The Partnership Between Gov't, Business and Genetic Research
The field of genetic research has been an expanding and growing field for several decades. Since the completion of the mapping of the human genome, which was announced in 2003 as a result of the partnership between the Human Genome Project, funded and managed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a private consortium of pharmaceutical companies, there have been proclamations from that field of study declaring the discovery of various genes.
Currently, there is ongoing and continued research worldwide, at hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, universities and other private entities, meant to unlock the secrets of numerous diseases and conditions, in an effort to gain information that it has been stated will be used to improve the human condition. At present, materials harvested from aborted and stillborn remains are of paramount importance in this research, most notably and always in the news, the use of stem cells.
There are three primary sources for obtaining these aborted and stillborn remains in the U.S., from health care clinics and hospitals, abortion clinics, like those in operation and use at Planned Parenthood Parenthood Federation of America Inc. and from private physicians. Most physicians are linked professionally with hospitals and clinics. The majority of clinics and hospitals are linked to colleges and universities, with both often involved in research with the aid of government funding. Pharmaceutical companies are involved in this research process on any number of these levels as well.
According to Planned Parenthood, these aborted and stillborn remains are the major source of embryonic stem cells and fetal tissue. Researchers, from various settings like academic institutions, commercial companies and institutions outside of the US, usually acquire these remains through private arrangements from nearby individual obstetricians because of the need for immediate delivery to the researchers' laboratories to prevent deterioration.
It has been reported that there is no formal national organization that accomplishes these tasks. Organizations wanting access to these remains deal directly with private laboratories or pharmaceutical companies. After women have given consent in writing for abortions, they are solicited to donate the remains for research.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Revitalization Act of 1993 prohibits these women, if they choose to allow the remains to be used in this manner, from knowing who will receive the remains or voicing any form of opposition to who will receive the remains. This act authorizes federal support for research on those materials obtained from those remains, whether from spontaneous or induced abortions or stillbirths.
Genetic research on any number of genes, in it's preliminary stages, is being funded and supported by governmental agencies and pharmaceutical companies, with a new strategy of funding for the drug companies coming from individuals and foundations and going directly to the drug companies.
Massive government studies around the world are engaged in doing basic genetic identification, to aid in the process of targeting specific genes, as a cost saving measure for the pharmaceutical industry and other possible researchers. The primary revealed use for this research has been for the development of genetic prenatal testing for determining birth defects.
Recently, in May 2007, the New York Times ran a story about a meeting organized in Detroit, Michigan to help people better understand children with Down Syndrome. There is a growing concern and fear among those identified as advocates for those with Down Syndrome that genetic testing may represent a new form of eugenics. It has been reported that 90% of pregnant women who are informed after prenatal testing that their unborn will have Down Syndrome choose abortion.
Will the connections and relationships between business, in the form of the drug industry, health care facilities and research institutions result in a possible increase in abortions, a concern raised at Womensenews.org in an article entitled New Prenatal Tests Raise Hopes and Fears, as a result of future mothers being informed that their unborn children will be born defective and victims of some horrible condition or disease?
Given the complexity and difficulty of any decisions to be made by any parents given the news of possible health issues and challenges for their child, the question is what level of disability or intellectual limitation might deem it advisable for steering prospective parents toward discontinuing a pregnancy?
As the demand for more diverse genetic samples and materials are desired, are any of our biological samples safe when we go to the hospital, clinic or physician unless we specifically dictate exactly what we will allow to be done with any parts of ourselves we are asked to provide for testing?
Appearing at Stem Cell Information, a web page maintained by the NIH, under Research and Policy Questions:
1) Which research is best to pursue?
The development of stem cell lines that can produce many tissues of the human body is an important scientific breakthrough. This research has the potential to revolutionize the practice of medicine and improve the quality and length of life. Given the enormous promise of stem cells therapies for so many devastating diseases, NIH believes that it is important to simultaneously pursue all lines of research and search for the very best sources of these cells.
We must make ourselves aware of the links and connections that power this current technology because, for a great many involved, this is business and business exists to turn a profit. These profits must not come at the expense or as the result of an uninformed populous, that waits silently on the sidelines, ignorant and oblivious to the possible danger of misuse and abuse that may await.