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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Dr. Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon running for the Republican nomination, has spoken out against Planned Parenthood and fetal tissue research. Too bad he’s done medical research on fetal tissue himself — but it’s different, he says, because he didn’t do the abortion and collect it himself.

OB/GYN and blogger Dr. Jen Gunter discovered a research paper from 1992, co-authored by none other than Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, which included tissue samples “obtained from two fetuses aborted at the ninth and 17th week of gestation.”

Gunter weighed this against Carson’s recent statements denouncing Planned Parenthood and fetal tissue collection — such as: “There’s nothing that can’t be done without fetal tissue” and and also: “At 17 weeks, you’ve got a nice little nose and little fingers and hands and the heart’s beating. It can respond to environmental stimulus. How can you believe that that’s just a[n] irrelevant mass of cells? That’s what they want you to believe, when in fact it is a human being.”

Gunter opined:

How does one explain this given Carson’s stand on fetal tissue research?

Perhaps Dr. Carson feels that only his work delivered the goods and all other researchers have produced inconsequential work, an Ebola vaccine clearly not of merit by Carson’s logic.

Could he think his own research was useless? However, if it was non-contributory to the field, why was it published?

Maybe he forgot that he’d done the research on fetal tissue? Convenient, I suppose, if you are a presidential hopeful and want to use your doctor credentials to get prime Fox and Breitbart space and there is a fetal-tissue-for-research issue.

Carson offered an explanation to The Washington Post of how his work was totally consistent with his pro-life beliefs — but at the same time, it really reads like a much-needed lecture to the public about the vital need for fetal tissue research.

“You have to look at the intent,” Carson told the Post‘s Dave Weigel in New Hampshire. “To willfully ignore evidence that you have for some ideological reason is wrong. 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.”

“When we obtain tissue like that, we want to know what the origin of that tissue is developmentally,” he also said. “Knowing that helps us determine which patients are likely to develop a problem. It’s one of the reasons why at the turn of the last century, the average age of death was 47. Now, the average age of death is 80. Using the information that you have is a smart thing, not a dumb thing.”

Carson also offered his insights of the process pathologists use to gather specimens — which, despite coming from mouth of a conservative presidential candidate, sounds like a pretty compelling defense of fetal tissue research and the people who do it.

“Bear this in mind about pathologists,” Carson clarified. “Regardless of what their ideology is, when they receive tissue, they prepare the tissue. They label it. They mark how it got there. Regardless of whether it’s from a fetus or someone who’s 150 years old, they bank them in tissue blocks. Other people doing comparative research need to have a basis. When pathologists receive a specimen, their job is to prepare the specimen. They have no job opining on where the tissue came from.”

Photo: Republican 2016 U.S. presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson answers a question at the first official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign in Cleveland, Ohio, August 6, 2015. (REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk)

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