Utah law says more about how to dispose of dead cats and dogs than it does about disposal of aborted human fetuses. That could allow the state to legally condone "fetal farming."
That is when a woman becomes pregnant only so she can abort the fetus for its cells to be used in treatment of such illnesses as Parkinson's disease.Such situations are no longer science fiction. Already one U.S. woman, whose father suffers from kidney disease, sought to be artificially inseminated with his sperm so that she might abort the fetus in the third trimester and transplant its kidneys into her father. Physicians believe the tissue match would be nearly perfect. But she was refused, and no such arrangements have yet been reported in the United States.
But researchers in Sweden have implanted human fetal cells into animal brains to fight Parkinson's disease, and UCLA Dr. Robert Gale implanted liver cells from aborted fetuses into three victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. He hoped that would multiply and replace bone marrow, but the patients died before the effects could be determined.
Even more troubling are reports that some European cosmetic companies use fetal cells not just placentas in skin cremes. An ad for one such product says it used "embryo cell extract" to "retard and treat the effects of aging."
Such situations suggest that some law changes are needed to prevent the human race from turning into high-tech cannibals.
For example, Utah law is silent about how fetuses should be disposed. But ironically, it requires local governments that pick up dead cats and dogs to bury them.
Shauna Spencer, director of the Utah Women's Health Center Utah's only abortion clinic says aborted fetuses there are still treated with respect. She says they are taken to a pathologist as required by law to certify that an abortion occurred, and then are incinerated.
Even though she says her operation would never consider selling or giving fetuses for research or cosmetic use, it could legally do so as could any other hospital or doctor's office where the 4,200 abortions a year in the state are also performed.
The Legislature should adopt a law requiring incineration or burial of fetuses after the required examination by pathologists. It may allow scientifically unique fetuses to be saved for scientific examination.
Even if lawmakers do not want to go quite that far to allow some medical research with fetuses, it should ban the sale of fetal tissue requiring that it be obtained through donation. That should stop the abhorrent possibility of women becoming pregnant only to sell the fetus.