Ben Carson has responded to allegations that he was part of a research team that used fetal tissue for experiments and testing. One of his former research colleagues published details of their 1992 research using fetal tissue on Wednesday. Carson doesn’t deny the allegations.
Carson admitted to using the tissue from aborted fetuses for medical research, but claimed that the way it was used by his research team is different from the allegations currently levied against Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood has been denounced by most of the Republican field, including Carson, since video secretly recorded showed officials talking about the procurement of fetal tissue for medical research.
The videos were taken by anti-abortion activists who began a conversation with Planned Parenthood officials about using fetal tissue from aborted fetuses for medical research. The Planned Parenthood officials have repeatedly claimed that they have done nothing wrong. Experimental medical research using fetal tissue has been linked to helping patients with Parkinson’s disease and paralysis. However, in the United States, selling fetal tissue for profit is illegal.
Republicans quickly waded into the politically charged issue, vowing to strip Planned Parenthood of some $500 million in annual federal funding. Carson was one of those who weighed in on the matter, telling Fox News’s Megyn Kelly that fetal tissue research was basically useless and the same things could be accomplished without it. The former Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon may find his presidential campaign derailed by the allegations.
On Thursday, Carson rejected the comparison between the research he performed and Planned Parenthood’s supposed actions. In an interview with The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel, Carson said, “You have to look at the intent. To willfully ignore evidence that you have for some ideological reason is wrong. If you’re killing babies and taking the tissue, that’s a very different thing than taking a dead specimen and keeping a record of it.”
Some considered Carson’s explanation somewhat odd. One interpretation of his remarks is that he’s claiming the fetal tissue he used for research didn’t come from fetuses aborted specifically for use in medical research while insinuating that was what Planned Parenthood was doing. However, the video of the Planned Parenthood conversation does not back up that assertion.