cites Vatican document to defend its use of aborted baby
A pro-life group is criticizing pharmaceutical company Neocutis’
defense of its use of cells harvested from an aborted fetus in the
development of burn treatments and anti-aging creams. While the company
said it takes seriously concerns about the dignity of human life—going
so far as to cite a Vatican document—the pro-life group is questioning
Neocutis’ version of the facts.
Last week the organization Children of God for Life released a
statement criticizing Neocutis’ use of cells harvested from an aborted
fetus in the development of anti-aging creams. The group also called
for a boycott.
The “Processed Skin Proteins" (PSPs) being used in Neocutis' burn and
wound treatments were reportedly taken from an electively-aborted
14-week-old male fetus donated by the University Hospital of Lausanne
The baby’s cells were used to create a working cell bank by laboratory
cultivation. The cells now number in the hundreds of millions.
Though the University Hospital of Lausanne said the cells were
originally established for wound healing and burn treatments, Children
of God for Life charged that they are now being used for cosmetic
Neocutis defended its procedures in a recent statement which professed
respect for differing views. It said the important question is how to
conduct research and development in a way that is “respectful of the
dignity of human life, and that is conducted in a highly controlled and
“This is an understandable concern that we take very seriously,”
Neocutis said. “The small skin donation that, ultimately, made the
development of our treatment possible originated from a single
terminated pregnancy that could not survive to term and was deemed
medically necessary by the attending physicians.”
According to the company, the “voluntary donation to medical research”
was made by the parents and was performed in adherence with “strict
“To be clear, our products do not directly use the originally donated
tissue in any way,” the company added. The cells used were not
embryonic stem cells, it reported, saying that no other donation will
ever be necessary and that the cell bank enables the production of
about 900 million biological bandages for patients with severe wounds,
burns and other serious skin conditions.
The company said it believed “extremely limited use” of fetal skin
tissue obtained in a respectful manner can lead to “significant medical
In a Nov. 3 statement, Children of God for Life Executive Director Debi
Vinnedge charged that the company was “not being honest.” The group
cited evidence that the company was using fetal cells since 1995, long
before the 2004 abortion used to provide fetal material.
The organization also questioned Neocutis’ claims, made in other
responses to public inquiries, that the abortion was performed on a
pregnancy that could not come to term in which the mother’s life was in
danger. These facts were not documented in a 2009 research paper
published in Experimental Gerontology, the pro-life group says.
Vinnedge criticized as “unconscionable” other comments by Neocutis
President Mark Lemcko that he had “felt comfortable with his decision”
after studying a 2005 document by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for
In Vinnedge’s view that document, “Moral Reflection on Vaccines
Prepared From Cells Derived from Aborted Human Fetuses,” allowed the
use of fetus-derived treatments only in temporary situations of “grave
inconvenience” or “considerable danger” to the health of children and
would not apply to cosmetics.
The issue is one of “health versus pure vanity,” Vinnedge insisted.
November 4, 2009
to a friend.
The IFRL is the largest grassroots pro-life organization in
Illinois. A non-profit organization, that serves as the state
coordinating body for local pro-life chapters representing thousands of
Illinois citizens working to restore respect for all human life in our
society. The IFRL is composed of people of different political
persuasions, various faiths and diverse economic, social and ethnic
backgrounds. Since 1973 the Illinois Federation for Right to Life has
been working to end abortion and restore legal protection to those members of the
human family who are threatened by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. Diverse though we are, we hold one common belief - that
every human being has an inalienable right to life that is precious and must be protected. IFRL is
dedicated to restoring the right to life to the unborn, and protection
for the disabled and the elderly. Click here to learn more about the IFRL.