biomedical ethics: May 2005 Archives

Read it and weep

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The horrid consequences of the eugenics movement.

I heard a story recently from one of our family practice residents. Seems that a friend of hers was sterilized without knowledge or consent, at the age of 19(!!!!!!) by a doctor who told her after the fact that he had 'taken care of her problem' during her cesarean.

I remember hearing stories about what were called "Mississippi appendectomies" - young black women in public hospitals with abdominal pain being told it was their appendix, and as long as he was in there the doctor tied her tubes.

I remember seeing a young woman from Mexico a few years back who was concerned that she was having trouble getting pregnant. As part of a basic workup, we did a pelvic US that showed an IUD in her uterus. She honestly had no clue.

An interesting tidbit - the Federal Family Planning law has for several years required that consent for any sterilizing operation (including a hysterectomy pre-menopause) be consented for at least 30 days in advance. This can be waived to 72 hours only in very specific circumstances. A hospital that ignores this law will not only not get paid for the operation, but for any other bills incurred duing that hospital stay. But private insurance has no such safety clause.

A recurring conversation

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in the comments boxes over at A Saintly Salmagundi. It started with a bit about pharmacists and conscience clauses and evolved into a discussion of immunization. I put a lot of work into my comment and thought that I would also post it here.
If we accept the use of vaccines produced through immoral research on aborted fetal cell tissue, what moral standing can we possibly have to object to embryonic stem cell research or (later on, if any therapies actually develop) to the use of such therapies?

Also, mass immunization is not innocuous. It is an epidemiological herd concept idea where the risks to a small percentage of the population (and kids as well as adults have died or been damaged for life from vaccines of all sorts) is considered preferable to the large numbers of death and disability from the disease in its wild state. What is interesting to note is that other interventions rather than vaccinations may have been responsible for the decreases in deaths from infectious diseases. Sanitation has pretty well eliminated cholera and typhoid from the civilized world, not the vaccines (which are still available but not widely used due to the nasty side effects)

I personally have chosen to be immunized and my children are also immunized - though if I had been in possession of accurate information at the time I would probably have altered some of the timing and choices for the vaccines. I think that there is a need for true informed consent - and maybe then we could also have avoided the need for a federal vaccine liability fund (paid for by you and me folks, to compensate parents whose kids were damaged by vaccine side effects).

Anyhow - references below taken from the Children of God for Life Web site and verified by me in the medical journals.

On vaccine production:
Here are some excerpts from medical journals which provided specifics about the cell cultures for the Rubella vaccine:

Gamma Globulin Prophylaxis; Inactivated Rubella Virus; Production and Biological Control of Live Attenuated Rubella Virus Vaccines ; Amer J Dis Child Vol 118 Aug 1969

Dr. K McCarthy: It seems to me that there are two things that we worry about in regards to WI-38 cell substrate. First of all, presence of extraneous viral agents; secondly, the possibility of there being human genetic material passed over into the vaccine. I wonder if there is any information about the reasons for aborting that particular embryo that gave rise to WI-38; and if it was from a family, whether we have any information about siblings from the family and whether they are normal?

Dr.S Plotkin, Philadelphia: I should like to answer Dr. McCarthy's question. This fetus was chosen by Dr. Sven Gard, specifically for this purpose. Both parents are known, and unfortunately for the story, they are married to each other, still alive and well, and living in Stockholm, presumably. The abortion was done because they felt they had too many children. There were no familial diseases in the history of either parent, and no history of cancer specifically in the families; I believe this answers Dr. McCarthy's question.

Attenuation Of RA 27/3 Rubella Virus in WI-38 Human Diploid Cells; Amer J Dis Child vol 118 Aug 1969

Explant cultures were made of the dissected organs of a particular fetus aborted because of rubella, the 27th in our series of fetuses aborted during the 1964 epidemic. The third explant, which happened to be from kidney, was selected arbitrarily for further study.

Studies of Immunization With Living Rubella Virus ; Arch J Dis Child vol 110 Oct 1965

"This fetus was from a 25-year-old mother exposed to rubella 8 days after last menstrual period. 16 days later she developed rubella. The fetus was surgically aborted 17 days after maternal illness and dissected immediately. Explants from several organs were cultured and successful cell growth was achieved from lung, skin, and kidney. It was then grown on WI-38. This new vaccine was tested on orphans in Philadelphia".
on cell lines (from the Coriell Cell repository
( the cell line for a particular vaccine is listed in the PDR most of the time)
The MRC-5 cell line was developed in September 1966 from lung tissue taken from a 14 week fetus aborted for psychiatric reason from a 27 year old physically healthy woman. The cell morphology is fibroblast-like. The karyotype is 46,XY; normal diploid male. Cumulative population doublings to senescence is 42-48. G6PD isoenzyme is type B.
The WI-38 cell line was developed in July 1962 from lung tissue taken from a therapeutically aborted fetus of about 3 months gestational age. Cells released by trypsin digestion of the lung tissue were used for the primary culture. The cell morphology is fibroblast-like. The karyotype is 46,XX; normal diploid female. A maximum lifespan of 50 population doublings for this culture was obtained at the Repository. A thymidine labelling index of 86% was obtained after recovery. G6PD is isoenzyme type B. This culture of WI-38 is an expansion from passage 9 frozen cells obtained from the submitter.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the biomedical ethics category from May 2005.

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