After weeks of GOP candidates pandering to the anti-Planned Parenthood masses, it looks like the one man who should know better re:fetal tissue donations—famed ex-neurosurgeon Ben Carson—actually does know better. Or at least, he did back in 1992 when he did his own research on 17-week fetal tissue. But, according to Carson, that was different.
This frantic attempt at revisionist history started when author and OB/GYN Dr. Jen Gunter discovered the candidate’s paper Colloid Cysts of the Third Ventricle: Immunohistochemical evidence for nonneuropithelial differentiation (catchy!) in a ‘92 publication of the Human Pathology medical journal.
Dr. Carson, like everyone, is entitled to an opinion no matter how wrong, What he says doesn’t change the fact that fetal tissue plays a vital role in medical research. For example it is being used to develop a vaccine against Ebola. Many researchers depend on fetal tissue to understand and hopefully develop treatment for a myriad of conditions from blindness to HIV. Without fetal tissue neurosciences research, something essential for the development of neurosurgical techniques, would be far less developed. Dr. Carson should be intimately aware of this fact.
And how! But as Gunter points out, just this past July, Carson went on Fox News to say that “it’s been over-promised what the benefits of fetal research would be. And very much under-delivered. And if you go back over the years, and look at the research that has been done and all the things that it was supposed to deliver, very little of that has been done, and there’s nothing that can’t be done without fetal tissue.”
All of which would seem to make him look like one hell of a hypocrite. But as Carson so kindly explains to The Washington Post, no, it does not. His reasoning: “To willfully ignore evidence that you have for some ideological reason is wrong.” Agreed! Unfortunately, he goes on, “If you’re killing babies and taking the tissue, that’s a very different thing than taking a dead specimen and keeping a record of it.”
While Carson’s reasoning is largely nonsensical and relies on the use of “synonyms” to make the words sound “slightly different,” it’s worth noting that the fetuses used in Carson’s research were, in fact aborted:
It’d be one thing if—like his fellow candidates, ostensibly—Carson was spouting off incorrect and potentially highly damaging rhetoric because he actually didn’t know any better. But the good doctor is clearly fully aware of both the necessity and the great potential for good that lies in using fetal tissue in medical research. But hey, maybe it’s only ok when he does it.