Vitals Reporting on the pro-life movement

University of New Mexico ends baby body parts program

Abortion | The school’s tissue procurement operation comes to an end
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 8/06/18, 04:01 pm

Researchers at the University of New Mexico will no longer procure, sell, or dissect aborted baby body parts, the university announced recently.

The research program led for two decades by Robin Ohls, a pediatrics professor, was halted following an internal investigation. Both the New Mexico Alliance for Life and the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Panel on Infant Lives, organized to investigate allegations of fetal tissue trade exposed in a series of undercover videos, said evidence from their own investigations pointed to the university’s violation of state and federal law.

Buying, selling, or otherwise transferring fetal tissue for “valuable consideration” violates a U.S. law that stipulates offenders can face fines and up to 10 years in prison. The New Mexico Spradling Act also “prohibits making anatomical gifts of the remains of any fetus that is the product of an induced abortion.”

The university vehemently denies any wrongdoing, saying it has “been transparent and cooperative with every agency that has inquired into our work in this area. The plain fact is that UNM has never bought or sold fetal tissue.”

University emails obtained by the New Mexico Alliance for Life show Ohls asking a researcher in Michigan to pay $150 per tissue sample. The researcher, Tammy Movsas of the Zietchick Research Institute in Plymouth, Mich., wrote back, “[B]ecause I have some discretion with how the [research] funds are used, I can reimburse up to a total of $7,500 with the funded grant.”

Internal documents requested by the House panel showed a log of baby parts procured from abortion center Southwestern Women’s Options (SWO), with which UNM has close ties. Some entries are for finding a pancreas, a broken stomach, or a brain.

Some of the faculty held what was called a “Neuroscience Summer Experience” in the summer of 2012 during which they dissected aborted fetal brains in front of high-school students. The university had requested the brains from SWO and asked specifically for babies aborted between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation.

The House panel determined that evidence revealed a “symbiotic relationship” between the university and abortion center. It also found that UNM “aggressively engaged in expanding abortion in New Mexico” by training abortionists, granting them volunteer faculty status, sending its own medical residents to SWO to perform abortions, and encouraging pro-abortion activities among its faculty and staff.

It also found that regardless of whether UNM paid for specimens or SWO had permission from the mothers to donate their babies for research, the university definitely violated the Spradling Act by obtaining any aborted fetal tissue from SWO.

When the panel referred UNM and SWO to New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, he said he would not prosecute them.

The university then launched its own investigation. Meanwhile, the House panel asked the U.S. Justice Department to review the case.

New Mexico Alliance for Life Director Elisa Martinez told me she hopes the university will go one step further and turn the investigation over to federal authorities. Closing down the research is a “small victory, because we won’t see women being deceived and the lives of unborn children commodified,” she said.

UK allows starvation, dehydration of brain-damaged people

The U.K. Supreme Court ruled last week that doctors and family members can remove feeding tubes from patients suffering from a permanent vegetative state or in a minimally conscious state.

“These patients are not imminently dying and with good care can live for many years,” wrote pro-life advocate Peter Saunders, who is the CEO of U.K. Christian Medical Fellowship, a network of doctors and medical students. “Once we accept that death by dehydration is in some brain-damaged people’s ‘best interests’ we are on a very slippery slope indeed.”

The decision arose from the case of a man suffering from brain injury who had no written advance directive. His family wanted to remove his feeding tube and allow him to die by starvation and dehydration, which can take between two and three weeks.

The man, known as Mr. Y, was a 52-year-old financial analyst who had a heart attack. The London Evening Standard reported that he was in “a prolonged disorder of consciousness.” —S.G.

Facebook Facebook Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (center) visits an emergency shelter in East Portland, Ore.

No abortions, no healthcare?

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said last month that if the Trump administration adopts Title X rules keeping funds away from abortion centers, she will say no to all Title X funds for the state.

“If the Trump gag rule is adopted & legal challenges are unsuccessful, it would leave me no choice but to act in the best interests of the citizens of Oregon & our state law,” she tweeted, “[a]nd withdraw our state’s participation from an unethical, ineffective Title X program that reduces access to essential preventive health services.”

Oregon Right to Life executive director Lois Anderson called the decision inexplicable.

“In a bizarre political stunt, she is threatening the healthcare access of over 50,000 Oregonians, 95 percent of whom are 250 percent below the federal poverty line,” Anderson said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee, and Hawaii Gov. David Ige, all Democrats, have threatened similar moves.

With the new Title X rules, Planned Parenthood stands to lose about $60 million of its roughly $550 million annual tax dollar revenue . —S.G.

Facebook Facebook Artwork on the side of Seneca, Choices for Life, in Columbus, Ga.

Lifesaving art

A colorful painting by a teen on the side of Seneca, Choices for Life, pregnancy center in Columbus, Ga., recently saved the life of an unborn baby, according to pro-life advocate Joanna Keilson. The painting depicts a bright green and blue feather and the words:

“You are not alone. You are loved. Everyone needs help. Getting help is okay. Hard times come but are never permanent. It’s okay to feel scared, fearful, and angry. You have power. You have choices. You have the power to choose life. You have a beautiful future of hope ahead. This is not the end.”

Keilson said the mother was walking into Columbus Women’s Health Organization, the abortion center next door, when she saw the painting and decided against the abortion. —S.G.

Samantha Gobba

Samantha reports on the pro-life movement for WORLD Digital.

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  • AL
    Posted: Tue, 08/07/2018 08:10 am

    Please note in the article above, "No abortions, no healthcare?" Kate Brown is identified as governor of both Oregon (in the body of the article) and New Mexico (in the photograph).


    Rhonda Buckingham

  • Web Editor
    Posted: Tue, 08/07/2018 11:10 am

    Thank you for writing to point out the error. It has been corrected.

  • RC
    Posted: Wed, 08/08/2018 04:52 pm

    “Once we accept that death by dehydration is in some brain-damaged people’s ‘best interests’ we are on a very slippery slope indeed.”

    No, wrong, we have totally fallen off the slope.  Anyone who wants to ease their conscience by deceiving themselves into thinking it is O.K. to let a brain damaged human being starve to death is as cruel and inhuman as Hitler, Stalin, Pol-Pot, etc.  The right thing to do is to feed them or kill them outright and quickly.  We don’t know what kind of suffering and torture they are enduring as they slowly die, by starvation, over a several week period.  As C.S. Lewis would say, we are becoming men without chests.