October 26, 2015 — "Research use of fetal tissue, which is legal, became an issue because of explosive but baseless allegations that Planned Parenthood illegally sold fetal tissue for profit," according to a Washington Post editorial.
The editorial explains that the organization "facilitate[s] tissue donations from patients who request it, and the only money involved was for reasonable reimbursement of costs." The editorial adds, "Planned Parenthood recently announced it would forgo even those token payments to remove any doubt about its practices."
However, the misleading videos have spurred "some of the organization's affiliates to rethink their participation in the research, and there are efforts in some states to ban or restrict use of fetal tissue for medical studies," the editorial notes. According to the editorial, fetal tissue research since the 1930s has played a "valuable role ... in advancing scientific understanding and developing treatments for a wide range of conditions," including the polio vaccine. It is also critical to research into "retinal degeneration, pregnancy loss, fetal health and human development disorders such as Down syndrome, according to the National Institutes of Health," the editorial states.
The editorial notes that Congress in 1993 recognized "[t]he importance of this research" when "bipartisan majorities in both houses ... passed the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act," which formally lifted "a moratorium on federal funding for fetal tissue transplantation research." Under the law, women who donate fetal tissue after an abortion must "give written consent, and only after she has decided to have an abortion."
In spite of opposition, which mostly "is rooted in objections to abortion," officials with "Planned Parenthood ... say there has been an increase in the number of abortion patients wanting to donate tissue," the editorial states. It concludes, "These women know better than anyone that their abortions would have happened no matter where the fetal tissue ended up, and they want it put to use saving lives" (Washington Post, 10/23).