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State Lawmakers Consider Change For Fetal Tissue Research

Ryan E. Poppe
Texas House State Affairs Committee

Even though no clinics in Texas collect fetal tissue during an abortion to donate to research groups and medical schools, it hasn’t stopped state lawmakers from examining the state laws and procedures concerning the issue.

Jennifer Allmon is an associate director with the Texas Catholic Conference and was asked by the House Committee on State Affairs to address the issue at Thursday’s hearing.

“While adult stem cell research has proven to be vastly more effective for producing cures than fetal research there continue to be broad claims that fetal tissue is needed for study.  For this reason we do not object to fetal research done to the remains of a child lost during a miscarriage," Allomon told the committee.

Allmon supports efforts to include legislation in 2017 that would ban the use of fetal tissue for research purposes if the samples were collected during an abortion, which is a bill Corsicana Republican Rep. Byron Cook is considering filing next session.

“It causes me to wonder if maybe we shouldn’t be looking at the utilization of tissue from miscarriages as opposed to tissue from elective abortions,” Cook said.

Dr. Raymond Greenberg is the vice chancellor of health affairs for the University of Texas System.  He told lawmakers UT has thoroughly vetted the out-of-state company here they purchase fetal tissue samples.

“In terms of the quality of the material and the pricing of the material, we think things are working well right now," Greenberg said.

Greenberg said all three of the university's medical research campuses paid just over $10,000 to a California bio-research firm for fetal tissues samples in 2015, but he says much of the money went to pay for the company's cost to obtain and store the material.

Fetal tissue collection became an issue in Texas shortly after the release of highly-edited videos featuring Texas Planned Parenthood executives.    The State’s Department of State Health Services says an investigation of Planned Parenthood is still ongoing, but so far all 10 abortion clinics operating in Texas remain in compliance with state and federal laws.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.