Aborted Fetal Tissue Research
DO YOU WANT TO SEE A STATEWIDE BAN ON THE USE OF ABORTED BABIES FOR RESEARCH? SO DOES NEBRASKA RIGHT TO LIFE ! THAT’S WHY WE OPPOSED THE OMAHA CITY COUNCIL ORDINANCE .
By Julie Schmit-Albin
Nebraska Right to Life
On April 21, 2001, Nebraska Right to Life and the Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities issued a press release in opposition to a proposed local ordinance of the Omaha City Council intended to ban the use of aborted babies for research. Nebraska Right to Life believes this was the only logical and sensible course to take, with regard to the future of a statewide ban. Please read on for the facts:
I was not aware of the language in the proposed Omaha City Council oridnance banning aborted fetal tissue use which the Council was to vote on April 24th. My focus has been so intently upon the passage of LB 462 these past few months that my attention wasn’t on what was happening in Omaha on this issue. LB 462 is the bill introduced by Sen. Dwite Pedersen in this session of the Legislature to enact a statewide ban on the use of aborted babies for research. On April 11th, LB 462 was bracketed to next January. About a week and a half later I realized we should probably see the language in Omaha, which I had never seen. I had been given a copy of a proposed petition initiative that had been circulating in Bellevue on the same issue. That petition contained about two lines of language and that was the only language I knew was being dealt with in Omaha or Bellevue. On Thursday morning, April 19th, I requested the language of the ordinance from the Omaha City Clerk.
I faxed a copy of the language to our National Right to Life State Legislative Director and attorney, Mary Spaulding Balch. After consulting with Mary, Nebraska Right to Life determined that passage of this ordinance could hamper the passage of LB 462 next session. The main reason we opposed passage of the ordinance is contained in the attached press release reprinted in this factsheet. The main opposition stemmed from from the belief that if there is to be a "test case" on the aborted fetal tissue issue; Nebraska Right to Life wanted to see it on the best possible language, which we believe to be LB 462. Moreover, the language in the Omaha ordinance was poorly drafted compared to LB 462:
1. The language contained a subjective standard, rendering any ban useless according to National Right to Life. The subjective standard is seen in Sec. 12-151....."in the best judgment of the person conducting the research, based upon the available knowledge or information at the approximate time of the research, the research substantially jeopardizes the life or the health of the embryo, fetus or neonate." This is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house. In other words, the researcher who is receiving the tissue is the person who determines whether it jeopardizes the life or health of embryo, fetus or neonate to be using it.
2. Even if the subjective standard was removed and objective standard inserted, the fact remains that the objective standard would be based on research generally accepted in the research community...once again, the fox being in charge of the hen house as we don’t believe there are currently ethical standards in place in regard to aborted fetal tissue research.
3. The Michigan statute which the ordinance is based upon is not a ban on the use of aborted babies for research. There is no such ban in place in Michigan. However, it was misrepresented that such an ordinance would equal a ban on aborted baby research. Right to Life of Michigan Lobbyist Ed Rivett stated to me that the statute which the Omaha ordinance was based upon was intended to deal only with prohibiting research on living embryos, neonates or fetuses. He said the statute did not pertain to the use of tissue from dead babies. It has been touted that this statute has been in existence in Michigan for twenty years and never challenged. One might submit that it has never been challenged because it has no teeth in it and researchers are free to do as they please under it. (See Items # 1 & 2 above.) And, National Right to Life did not write the language of this Michigan statute. When it was passed in 1976, National Right to Life did not have in place a Department of State Legislation. In subsequent years, National Right to Life developed that department and that is now what state affiliates to National Right to Life, such as Nebraska Right to Life, use for drafting model legislation. It was this department and the attorney therein, Mary Spaulding Balch, who was instrumental in assuring that the drafting of LB 462 would be cutting edge and able to fend off questions of constitutionality.
3. Moreover, it’s questionable if the City has any legal jurisdiction over a State entity; i.e. Senator Brashear’s 14 page legal analysis of LB 462 wherein he explains exactly why only the State can have jurisdiction over another State entity.
4. If this ordinance had passed; there would most assuredly be a legal challenge. To what levels that challenge would have been taken is uncertain. However, our concern is that any pending legal challenge of this ordinance would then give the State Legislature an "out" not to deal with LB 462 in 2002. Further, if the ordinance was rejected by successive higher courts, the perception created in the public and in the minds of the Legislature would have been that the courts have already dealt with this issue; and that the issue has been decided.
5. Nebraska Right to Life rejects the notion that poorly written language that has no similarity whatsoever to LB 462, could become the test case for Nebraska on this issue, simply because four members of a seven member City Council would vote to pass it. For that reason we called all members of the City Council and the Mayor to ask them to consider our concerns before voting on the ordinance.
The Omaha ordinance failed to pass April 24th on a vote of 3 For, 3 Against and 1 Abstention.
ACTION NEEDED: Nebraska Right to Life is not ready to give up on the legislative process after two years. LB 462 will be back up for first round debate next January in the Legislature. Please fill out the form below and leave with us so that we can keep you updated on what needs to be done between now and January to see a statewide ban on aborted baby research enacted. Nebraska Right to Life distributed 10,000 postcards this past legislative session for pro-lifers to write to their senators about this issue. Key legislative districts have now been identified and it is our challenge to pull back the handful of senators that the University was successful in scaring away from LB 462. Please pledge your help in this effort. Thank you!
STATEWIDE PRO-LIFE ORGANIZATIONS OPPOSE OMAHA CITY COUNCIL PROPOSED BAN ON ABORTED FETAL TISSUE
4/21//01 Press Release From:
NEBRASKA RIGHT TO LIFE & BISHOPS’ PASTORAL PLAN FOR PRO-LIFE ACTIVITIES
Two statewide pro-life organizations, Nebraska Right to Life and the Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities have announced their opposition to the proposed ordinance before the Omaha City Council banning the use of fetal tissue from induced abortions. The primary basis of opposition stems from a concern that the ordinance is poorly drafted and should it be enacted, a subsequent court challenge would likely succeed and consequently impede efforts to pass LB 462. LB 462, a bill pending in Nebraska’s Legislature, would ban the use of tissue from induced abortions at publically funded institutions. On April 11th, senators voted to hold LB 462 over until the 2002 legislative session.
The language in LB 462 was drafted very carefully to ensure it would withstand judicial scrutiny. While we applaud the willingness of some Omaha City Council members to address this issue, we believe that LB 462 is the best vehicle to achieve our goal of prohibiting the use of fetal tissue from induced abortions by public institutions. It is our hope that if the Omaha City Council wishes to make a statement on this issue, that they would instead pass a resolution in support of the passage of LB 462 next session.
Support for Aborted Fetal Tissue Research is Incompatible
Pro Life Principle
Clarification of Pro Life Principle
Throughout the public debate over the University of Nebraska Medical
Center’s research involving the use of fetal brain tissue derived
from induced abortions, some public officials have tried to maintain
that supporting this research is compatible with a pro-life position.
The purpose of this statement is to declare that:
Supporting aborted fetal tissue
research is incompatible with the most fundamental principle of
the pro-life position.
The principle at the core of opposition to abortion is a belief
that prenatal human beings are morally equal to postnatal human beings
and deserve to be equally recognized and protected in law. Accordingly, this principle means that killing (or complicity
with killing) innocent human beings BEFORE birth is just as wrong as
killing (or complicity with killing) human beings AFTER birth.
Based on this fundamental principle, the pro life movement
opposes UNMC’s aborted fetal tissue research for at least
bottom line in the moral analysis of using aborted fetal tissue in
research is this: the moral arguments for or against its use stand or
fall on whether one equates the moral status of human beings before
birth with human beings after birth.
For anyone who believes that prenatal human beings are of equal
moral status as born human beings, support for UNMC’s research using
the bodies of intentionally aborted babies cannot be morally or
The pro life movement in Nebraska, represented by the following organizations, will work together to ensure that this clarification of the fundamental principle of the pro life position is communicated clearly and broadly throughout Nebraska and in particular to any public official who claims that a pro life stance is compatible with support for aborted fetal tissue research.
Support for Aborted Fetal Tissue Research is Incompatible
Pro Life Principle
A Clarification of Pro Life Principle
Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro Life Activities
Business and Professional People for Life
Democrats for Life
Metro Right to Life
Nebraska Family Council
Nebraska Right to Life
Vital Signs Ministries
LB 462 Post Card Campaign
Nebraska Right to Life kicked off its post card campaign for bill LB 462 to ban the use of aborted babies for research in Nebraska at the annual Walk For Life January 20th, 2001 at the State Capitol. Pro-lifers are urged to immediately send post cards to their state senator asking them to support LB 462. Free post card packets containing background information about the bill can be ordered by contacting Nebraska Right to Life.
RIGHT TO LIFE
UNMC: SAME SONG, SECOND VERSE
LINCOLN---Eight months after the
University of Nebraska Board of Regents vowed to direct
the University of Nebraska Medical Center to find
alternative sources other than aborted baby tissue for
its research; UNMC claims to be making headway with its
use of rapid autopsies. However, there is nothing new in
UNMC's report to the media today that they have been able
to obtain two of the three types of cells they have been
looking for through rapid autopsies, said Julie Schmit-Albin,
Executive Director of Nebraska Right to Life.
A few weeks ago Dr. Cohen told the
Bioethics Committee (Lincoln Journal-Star 7/19/00) they
had no evidence that rapid autopsies would yield neurons.
'That means Medical Center researchers must continue
using immature neurons collected from aborted fetuses.
Neurons from full-terms infants already have lost many of
the characteristics needed in the research.'
NEW BAN ON USE OF ABORTED BABIES FOR
State Senator Dwite Pedersen of Omaha has
vowed to introduce a new ban on the use of aborted baby
body parts for research in the next legislative session.
Sen. Pedersen made his pledge on the floor of the
Legislature as LB 1405, the bill in the 2000 session,
died when it butted up against the powerful lobby of the
University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). The bill
was introduced by Senator John Hilgert of Omaha in
response to the revelation that UNMC has been using
aborted baby body parts for research in Alzheimers and
AIDS dementia since 1993. Partial-birth abortionist Leroy
Carhart of Bellevue supplies UNMC with brain tissue from
(Underlined passages are emphasis added
by Nebraska Right to Life)