Wis. GOP Leader Lies About Aborted Fetal Tissue Research

Last week, Media Trackers, a state-based conservative watchdog group, reported that the University of Wisconsin – Madison for at least two years worked directly with Planned Parenthood’s Madison, Wisconsin clinic to obtain up to 40 aborted fetal tissue samples for an academic study. The revelation was the latest in a long-running investigation that Media Trackers launched in the wake of undercover videos released last summer showing Planned Parenthood officials callously negotiating the sale price of aborted fetal body parts to tissue suppliers and academic and scientific researchers.

Stunningly, on Sunday, Speaker Robin Vos, the top Republican lawmaker in the Wisconsin Assembly, took to the airwaves to dismiss pro-life lawmakers pushing for legislation that would ban the use of aborted fetal tissue in research in Wisconsin.

Vos claims to be a conservative.

Vos claims to be pro-life.

Vos claims to be “disgusted” by the Center for Medical Progress videos released last summer.

Vos lied when he claimed on television (2:15 mark onward) that aborted fetal tissue is not used in research in Wisconsin.

“Now, luckily, it [aborted fetal tissue research] is not occurring,” Vos told WISN television’s Mike Gousha before complaining that, “There are some [lawmakers] who want to go further, and they want to work on um, trying to eliminate some potential types of research, and I just have a serious concern about what type of affect that will have on the UW.”

But the University of Wisconsin has used aborted fetal tissue in research, and contrary to Vos’ claims, pro-life lawmakers have narrowly targeted their proposed aborted fetal tissue research ban at research that uses fetal tissue from abortions. Fetal tissue acquired from non-abortion sources would be perfectly acceptable for research, and fetal tissue already acquired from abortions by the date the legislation became law would be grandfathered in.

Dr. Shannon Kenney, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin, repeatedly obtained fetal tissue for research projects from Advanced Bioscience Resources. ABR is the firm the Center for Medical Progress exposed for having ties to Planned Parenthood, its preferred supplier of the fetal tissue it sells to research institutions.

Kenney’s husband, Dr. Robert Golden, is the dean of the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and Public Health. Golden has repeatedly testified in front of Wisconsin lawmakers, urging them to continue to allow the school to use aborted fetal tissue in experiments and research. When asked by Republican state Rep. Joel Kleefisch, the husband of Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R), about what would happen to UW research if women voluntarily stopped getting abortions, Golden replied:

“It would have a substantial negative impact on our capacity to do the life-saving research that we are doing.”

A pair of UW studies published in 2014 together used at least 44 separate aborted fetal tissue specimens for research. One of the studies specifically thanked two Planned Parenthood doctors for their work in securing the fetal tissue used in the project.

In the 20 months prior to August 2015, University of Wisconsin records obtained by Media Trackers showed that the school approved no less than 7 separate studies that planned to make use of fetal tissue for research and experiments.

Then last week Media Trackers unearthed a 2009 study approval that contained specific details about the University of Wisconsin’s relationship with Planned Parenthood, including details about how women seeking an abortion would be asked to donate the fetal tissue from their unborn children to UW research. The university’s ethical board that reviews studies for regulatory and ethical compliance approved the collaboration with Planned Parenthood 18-0.

One of the few media outlets in Wisconsin to pick up on Vos’ comments to WISN television was the left-leaning CapTimes, which on Monday simply reported that the Speaker doesn’t think he has the votes to pass an aborted fetal tissue research ban. The CapTimes on Sunday did publish a story expressing outrage over inhumane practices at a Wisconsin animal fur farm.

Speaker Robin Vos may be betting that voters aren’t paying attention, but that doesn’t minimize the fact that he lied to both the press and the public about the nature of aborted fetal tissue research in Wisconsin.

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Brian Sikma

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