A leading embryonic stem cell expert in Britain has called for organs from aborted babies to be used in transplants to increase the supply of organs available for donation, drawing criticism from pro-life and Christian groups who called the proposal “absolutely horrifying.”
Professor Sir Richard Gardner of Oxford University, an advisor to the Royal Society and the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, made his comments at an Oxford International Biomedical Center conference, the Daily Mail reports.
Expressing surprise that the possibility has not been considered, he said using fetal tissues for organ transplant is “probably a more realistic technique in dealing with the shortage of kidney donors than others.”
Experiments in mice, he said, have shown that fetal kidneys grow extremely quickly when transplanted into adult animals.
Using aborted fetuses “is something that could be done but it's not something that's talked about much.”
“It is at least a temporary solution,” he said, also calling for a study into the feasibility of such procedures.
Professor Stuart Campbell, a London obstetrician who argued for the abortion time limit to be lowered, had no ethical objections to the proposal, arguing that many babies were aborted quite late.
“If they are going to be terminated, it is a shame to waste their organs,” he claimed.
“I am sure very few of those on the transplant list would rather die than accept an organ from an aborted fetus,” he told the Daily Mail.
Dr. Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship said the transplants would be immoral because every human being deserves “protection, respect, wonder and empathy.”
Josephine Quintavalle, of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, called the proposal “absolutely horrifying,” telling the Daily Mail:
“At what stage do you say to the woman who is to have an abortion, ‘Can we have some organs for transplant?’”