THE TWISTED TALE OF HOW A DEAD BABY ENDED UP IN A VACCINE
Julio Gonzalez, M.D., J.D.
In 1962, a Swedish woman was faced with an awful decision. She was married to an alcoholic, irresponsible man. Her life was economically and emotionally stressed, and she was pregnant with his baby. Mrs. X already had a number of other children and felt she could not deal with another. Being that abortion was legal in Sweden (still is), she sought to get one.
As the story goes, Mrs. X could not find a doctor to execute her baby's abortion until she was nearly four months pregnant. By that time, her baby was in his second trimester of development. He was about eight inches long, and his organs, his brain, his eyes, and his heart had already been formed. He was even capable of feeling pain.
Regardless, Mrs. X found a female gynecologist to kill her baby. The corpse was taken to the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm where, without Mrs. X's permission, the dead baby was dissected and some of his lung's tissue flown to Philadelphia where Dr. Leonard Hayflick, a molecular cell biologist, was waiting. Dr. Hayflick had worked with the federal government to gain possession of the cells and eagerly began running studies on them.
As fate would have it, while Hayflick was conducting his work in Philadelphia, he was hired by Stanford University. By this time, Mrs. X's baby's cells had become incredibly important to him. For one thing, these "WI-38 human pulmonary fibroblast cells" had become a great source of money for him, as he had begun selling them to other researchers. But Hayflick had signed a contract with his employer and the federal government that allowed him to fund the procurement of the cells, so the cells were not his. Moreover, the contract through which the cells were obtained called for the passing of all remaining cells to the federal government once research was completed. At this point, there were over 350 vials of a million cells each.
Hastily, Hayflick called a meeting with his soon-to-be former employers. By its conclusion, an agreement was made allowing Hayflick to keep ten of the vials while the rest would revert to the federal government. Apparently, Dr. Hayflick did not like this idea very much because, just before leaving for Palo Alto, he grabbed all the vials and took them with him.
Yes, Dr. Hayflick stole the cells.
To be sure, a long legal battle ensued with the federal government that would ultimately result in Hayflick's reluctant resignation from Stanford and in him being labeled a thief. Dr. Hayflick went from being a burgeoning microbiology superstar to an unemployed scientist without a job opportunity in sight. In time though, Hayflick would settle with the federal government and would be hired by Merck, which went on to use the cells in its vaccine development efforts among other projects.
Over time, this whole ugly affair was swept under the rug, and Hayflick was restored to a place of national prominence. With those cells, the formerly dishonored scientist went on to discover the Hayflick Limit denoting a limitation to the number of times a human cell could divide. The discovery had fundamental implications to cloning technology, cancer research, and biological engineering. More importantly, Merck would use the cells to develop the Rubella vaccine, possibly saving over a billion lives and making billions of dollars off them as well.
Mrs. X never received a penny from the proceeds of the use of her discarded son's cells. Once, a researcher tracked her down and informed her of all that had happened as a result of her abortion. According to the researcher, she was distraught at learning that her baby's cells had been exploited without her permission, but wished to keep the whole episode behind her and protect her anonymity. Thus, we still do not know the identity of the woman whose discarded baby arguably helped save a billion lives.
But Mrs. X was no victim here. First, she killed her baby and allowed his body to go into some disposal container. Once she killed him, the baby was nothing other than tissue to her. She expected it to go to the trash. Not only had she cast out any responsibility over that poor defenseless human being, but she also relinquished any ownership to the baby's body.
Since Mrs. X's time, other cell lines have similarly appeared. Today, there are at least two cell lines obtained through abortions that are being used for vaccine development in the quest to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic. One line, HEK-293, is derived from the kidney cells of a baby aborted around 1972. The other, PER.C6, is used by Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, and taken in 1985 from the retinal cells of an 18-week-old aborted baby.
The fact is that every abortion of a viable baby is an act of evil for which there is no justification, not even the potential of billions of lives saved. Just ask yourself, would you knowingly stare into the eyes of a fully-grown human being and take his or her life if you believed that by doing so you could potentially save billions? The overwhelming number us of couldn't do it, for if killing one could be justified, why not two? Or twenty? Or six million? And why not for the sake of saving a million? A hundred thousand? Or ten? If we adopted this policy it would make us no different than any cannibal that ripped the beating heart out of his brother's chest merely to appease some man-made god. After all, wasn't that cannibal acting in the hope of saving his brethren?
Knowing what we know about human development, making the successful passage through the birth canal a determinant as to whether someone merits being killed in the name of saving another seems to be an arbitrary measure. Yet we have done it, and medications have come into existence because of it. Now, humanity will enjoy the benefits of that decision. . . and deal with it's consequences.
Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopaedic surgeon and lawyer living in Venice, Florida. He served in the Florida House of Representatives. He is the author of numerous books including The Federalist Pages, The Case for Free Market Healthcare, and Coronalessons. He is available for appearances and book signings, and can be reached through www.thefederalistpages.com.
Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopedic surgeon living in Florida. He is a lawyer, author, and former member of the Florida House of Representatives. He is available for speaking engagements at firstname.lastname@example.org