Dr. Ben Carson, who not long ago wrote an op-ed for CNN denouncing the way Planned Parenthood is “butchering” babies and told Fox’s Megyn Kelly that fetal tissue isn’t even needed in medical research, used fetal tissue in his own research. Carson is blithely insisting that’s not hypocritical, because he wasn’t “killing babies.”

Dr. Jen Gunter is an OB-GYN and pain medicine physician who keeps a personal blog on a variety of medical issues. She discovered a 1992 study that Carson authored, which used tissue obtained from two fetuses, aborted at nine and 17 weeks gestation.

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Gunter points out that squares up in a mighty interesting way with Carson’s claims to Megyn Kelly that the benefits of fetal research have been “over-promised and under-delivered,” that “nothing” that fetal research accomplished couldn’t be done without it, and that fetuses of 17 weeks gestation are people too:

“At 17 weeks you’ve got a nice little nose and little fingers and the hands and the heart’s beating and it can respond to environmental stimulus,” Carson said. “How can you believe that that’s an irrelevant mass of cells?”

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Gunter speculates that Ben Carson maybe just clean forgot at this very delicate time that he’d used fetal tissue from a 17-week-old fetus:

Maybe he forgot that he’d done the research on fetal tissue? Convenient I suppose if you are a Presidential hopeful and want to use your doctor credentials to get prime Fox and Breitbart space and there is a fetal-tissue-for-research issue.

It could have been some resident research paper that just needed a faculty member and he was sympathetic so got stuck with the job, but then again if you are running for President shouldn’t you know your own CV? And there is still that sticky issue of why add your name if you find fetal tissue research so unnecessary?

Might he feel that fetal tissue research was ok then, but not now? Using that logic we must have learned everything about medicine by 1992 and now we’re just working out the kinks while waiting for the cure for Alzheimer’s, HIV, and Parkinson’s to drop from the heavens.

As it turns out, it was none of those things: Carson explained to Dave Weigel at the Washington Post that he actually does believe fetal tissue should be used for medical research. His own use of fetal tissue was defensible, he added, because of his “intent:”

“You have to look at the intent,” Carson said before beginning a campaign swing through New Hampshire. “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.”

This is the first time Carson has threaded the needle quite that fine; in an op-ed for CNN on July 28, he pointed to the “destroying or butchering” of fetuses as a symptom of how far we’ve fallen as a society:

My entire professional career as a pediatric neurosurgeon was dedicated to saving the lives of children and promoting their long-term welfare, as I took the Hippocratic Oath to “First, do no harm.” Protecting innocent life is a duty consistent with that solemn oath. Destroying or butchering them is particularly offensive to someone like myself who has operated on babies while they were still in utero. All human life is precious and should be preserved and protected with the utmost respect and care.

When we reach a point where we are so callous that we kill innocent little babies, what else won’t we do? Is there a limit to our barbarism?

Carson wouldn’t tell Weigel if he thought Planned Parenthood should stop donating fetal tissue, but said he definitely still favors defunding them. Of course.


Contact the author at anna.merlan@jezebel.com.

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