Abortion is Big Business: Who buys, sells and uses fetal tissue acquired from abortion clinics

The fees for fetal tissue, which can run to thousands of dollars for a tiny vial of cells, do not break the law. There appears to be little or no oversight of the processing fees.





The New York Times

Videos released by an anti-abortion group during the last two weeks have drawn attention to a little-known practice: the buying, selling and research use of fetal tissue acquired from abortion clinics.

The group behind the tapes accuses Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue for profit — which is illegal and which Planned Parenthood denies doing. House Republicans plan to investigate. This may be just one more battle in the nation’s long war over abortion, but the dispute has raised questions about who the buyers and sellers are, what fetal tissue is used for and what the law allows.

Scientists at major universities and government labs have quietly been using fetal tissue for decades. They say it is an invaluable tool for certain types of research, including the study of eye diseases, diabetes and muscular dystrophy. Nevertheless, some agree to talk about it only if their names and their universities’ names are withheld, because they have received threats of violence from abortion opponents. Companies that obtain the tissue from clinics and sell it to laboratories exist in a gray zone, legally. Federal law says they cannot profit from the tissue itself, but the law does not specify how much they can charge for processing and shipping.

The National Institutes of Health spent $76 million on research using fetal tissue in 2014 with grants to more than 50 universities, including Columbia, Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, Yale and the University of California in Berkeley, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. It expects to spend the same amount in 2015 and 2016.

Researchers say fetal tissue is a uniquely rich source of the stem cells that give rise to tissues and organs, and that studying how they develop can provide clues about how to grow replacements for parts of the body that have failed.

“Think of fetal tissue as a kind of instruction booklet,” said Sheldon Miller, the scientific director of the intramural research program at the National Eye Institute.

Stem cells derived from adult tissue may eventually replace fetal ones, researchers say, but the science is not there yet.

Eye tissue from fetuses has played a crucial role in studies aimed at finding treatments for degenerative diseases of the retina that are a major cause of vision loss in people as they age, according to Miller.

“We couldn’t get this information any other way,” Miller said. He said the eye institute bought fetal tissue from a company, created specialized cultures of retinal tissue from it and sent them to other researchers.

A university researcher who asked not to be identified because he had received threats that led his institution to post a guard outside his laboratory said fetal tissue was extraordinarily useful because “if you want to understand how a tissue or a disease develops, you should go back to the beginning.”

Another researcher, also concerned about threats, said fetal tissue was essential in research to develop treatments for degenerative diseases of muscle, because “to regenerate tissues in a human, you need to understand how human cells work.” Animal tissue can take researchers only so far, they say, because there are critical differences in development.

Fetal tissue can be used only with the consent of the woman having an abortion. Some researchers receive the tissue from abortion clinics at their own institutions, or from tissue banks maintained by some universities. Many buy the tissue from companies that act as middlemen. Those companies pay small fees, usually $100 or less a specimen, to abortion providers like Planned Parenthood, who say they charge only what they need to cover their expenses. The companies then process the tissue and sell it to researchers for higher prices that reflect the processing.

The fees, which can run to thousands of dollars for a tiny vial of cells, do not break the law, according to Arthur Caplan, the director of the division of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center.

“It appears to be legal, no matter how much you charge,” Caplan said, adding that there appears to be little or no oversight of the processing fees. “It’s a very gray and musty area as to what you can charge.”

Many researchers buy tissue from two small California companies. StemExpress, a 5-year-old business based in Placerville, Calif., describes itself as “the largest provider of maternal blood and fetal tissue globally.” It also says it offers “special discounts to the academic community.”

Its founder, Cate Dyer, has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from California State University in Sacramento. She started StemExpress with $9,000. An article last November in Sacramento Business Journal said that the company had grown more than 1,300 percent in three years. Its revenue was $2.2 million, according to a report in August 2014 in Inc. magazine.

Dyer said that fetal tissue accounted for about 10 percent of the company’s business. She agreed to be interviewed on the condition that she not be asked about the congressional investigation into her company’s partnership with Planned Parenthood. Her lawyer and a crisis communication expert were present on the telephone interview.

She said the company obtained fetal tissue in accordance with the rules made by ethics boards at the institutions buying it, and the tissue has been used in studies of leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma and Parkinson’s disease.

It employs 37 people, including scientists, lab technicians and phlebotomists. Most clients come from referrals, and seek hard-to-find cell types, she said.

StemExpress uses procurement technicians to obtain fetal tissue. “We’re collecting biohazardous waste, discarded waste,” Dyer said. “They go to a hospital or to a facility that does terminations and collect tissues from those waste products.”

Back at the company, lab technicians process the tissue to try to isolate the specific cell type a researcher has ordered — for instance, fetal liver stem cells.

“These cells are hard to isolate,” Dyer said. “These are hard processes, expensive processes that take millions of dollars of equipment. Just to attempt to do some of these isolations can cost us thousands of dollars, and it may not even work.”

The effort is reflected in the pricing: a vial containing 5 million frozen fetal liver CD133+ stem cells can cost more than $24,000.

The final products are shipped fresh or frozen. Shipping fees are separate from specimen costs, and an overnight shipment to Germany, for example, can cost thousands of dollars, according to Dyer.

Fetal-tissue sales are not limited to cells in a vial. More than a dozen research papers published since 2012 acknowledge obtaining intact fetal eyes, hearts, livers and kidneys from StemExpress.

The other major supplier of fetal tissue, Advanced Bioscience Resources, or ABR, is a nonprofit that has 12 employees and recent sales of about $1.4 million, according to a Dun and Bradstreet report. A 2013 price sheet listed charges of $300 a specimen for tissue from a second-trimester fetus, and $515 if the fetus was first-trimester.

Linda Tracy, a registered nurse and president of ABR, said in an email that her company’s prices reflect the time, effort and space needed to obtain the fetal tissue. She noted that because funds for academic institutions are limited, her company tries to keep fees at a minimum.

“Planned Parenthood is in no way making a profit from participating in a tissue-donation program,” said Tracy, adding that the $30 to $100 acquisition fees mentioned in the first undercover video sounded “reasonable.”

ABR documents say its products have been used in HIV research by medical researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Southern California.

Tissue from the company has also been used at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and has been involved elsewhere in research on transplants.

A StemExpress brochure uncovered by the organization Center for Medical Progress, which was responsible for the leaked videos, contains an endorsement from a chapter of Planned Parenthood.

It quotes Dr. Dorothy Furgerson of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte saying: “Our partnership with Stem­Express is beneficial in a number of ways.” It goes on to describe contributions to “lifesaving research,” and its confidence that patients’ anonymity is secure.

But critics note several references in the flyer to financial benefits for clinics. By teaming with StemExpress, “you will also be contributing to the fiscal growth of your own clinic,” it says, a statement that some contend suggests clinics may be illegally profiting from providing fetal tissue.

George Annas, a law professor and bioethicist at Boston University, said, “What’s going on now is probably legal, but Congress won’t like it.”

Regarding the companies, Annas said: “They won’t be real happy that this is all out in the public. This threatens their business. Even if what they’re doing is legal, the law can easily be changed.”




Dutch farmers fight for their livelihoods against government plans

(LifeSiteNews) – Thousands of farmers in the Netherlands are in an ongoing struggle with the Dutch government over plans that will lead to the expropriation of large numbers of agricultural holdings in order drastically to reduce nitrogen oxide and ammonia.

With European regulations threatening overhead, the Dutch government decided to create a new ministry for “nitrogen and nature” last January, headed by Christianne van der Wal. She was tasked with finding the way to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 50 percent before the end of the decade. It is her plan that put thousands of farmers – and their tractors and even cows – in the streets of the Netherlands on several occasions in June. In the absence of a negotiated solution, a bid to “bring the country to a halt” has turned up on social media, with a group of activists planning to block major airports including Schiphol and Eindhoven, as well as the major ports such as Rotterdam, where a large part of international freight from and to Europe is handled.

Van der Wal presented her plan to reduce emissions on June 10, publishing a map with a fateful color-code that indicated by how many percent emissions must shrink in different parts of the country. This ranges from 12 percent in some places to up to 70 or 95 percent in and around the so-called “Natura-2000” zones, where European regulations tend to make established human presence next to impossible, with a blanket ban on running water and sanitation in the name of protecting plant and animal habitats.

In the Netherlands, emissions are higher than in other European countries due to the density of the population and construction in a relatively small area: the country is 237 times smaller than the United States. About half those emissions can be linked back to livestock farming, which is mostly of the intensive variety in the Netherlands. But as it is easier to reduce the number of farms and farmers than to reduce the population and put a curb on construction works, the “nitrogen minister” decided to work on that variable, at the cost of food production, farmers’ livelihoods, individual rights and liberties, and the historic attachment of the Dutch to the agricultural lifestyle.

Indeed, in the wake of the COVID crisis which saw the compulsory closing down of businesses and services – not to mention intense pressure on people to get COVID “vaccines” – the plan to shut down thousands of farms seems like much of a muchness. Authoritarian decisions in the name of the “environment” are clearly being made in order to regulate – or rather, to diminish – meat production and other types of farming in which nitrogen-rich fertilizers are used to feed the world.

As a major food crisis is already looming due to transportation difficulties since COVID, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and rising prices in the fertilizer industry, wiping away part of the Netherlands’ production seems like a crazy move. Unless, of course, this were all part of the “green” dislike of humanity.

For the Dutch farmers, compliance with the June 10 plan would mean choosing extensive over intensive farming, with huge loss of income, or selling farms that have often been in families for several generations. Failing to follow the rules would lead to expropriation pure and simple – with the government setting aside up to 25 billion euro to pay for wiping livestock and planted fields off the map.

As one young farmer put it, the perspective of getting 1.5 million euro for his plot of land might sound like good news, but the one-time income would be taxable and he would lose the job he loves and has been trained for, forever.

Right-wing parties that are against the Dutch center-left coalition government’s plans are talking about “communism” being implemented by the liberal-left-wing government, and rightly so: the plan reads like an attempt to take away means of production from free individuals and to have them regulated by the state at unprecedented levels.

It is no small paradox that the tiny Netherlands should be able to make such a difference. With its approximately 41,543 square kilometers where almost 17.5 million inhabitants rub shoulders, mostly in individual houses owned by families, and 162 nature reserves, one would hardly expect agricultural produce to be large.

But the Netherlands are Europe’s largest meat producer and they are also the second-largest exporter of agricultural products in the world, behind the United States but well before Germany, Brazil, China, France, and Spain. They boast 42 percent of the world’s cut flowers and ornamental plants produce.

Obviously, this could not be true if the Netherlands did not use cutting-edge technology, that includes new methods of indoor production with lighting systems that are limited to wave-lengths necessary for photo-synthesis and 90 percent less need for water. Livestock farms are also moving away from the traditional pastures where cows and sheep would peaceably graze on the Netherlands’ incredibly, almost indecently fertile soil, on ground conquered since the Middle Ages on the rivers and ocean. That ground has now become immensely valuable, selling for up to 80 times the prices obtained in nearby France, and that is also part of the problem.

Vegan Murder Files: Vegan mom starved toddler to death with diet of raw vegetables, fruit

A Florida vegan mother has been found guilty of murdering her 18-month-old son after only feeding him raw fruits and vegetables.

Sheila O’Leary, 39, is facing life in prison after a jury convicted her Wednesday of murder and a string of child abuse charges over the 2019 death of her toddler, Ezra O’Leary, the News Press reported.

Her little boy weighed just 17 pounds — seven pounds below average — when his parents noticed he had stopped breathing.

O’Leary and her husband, Ryan O’Leary, told police that Ezra followed a strict vegan diet — but that he was also breast fed.

They said the boy hadn’t eaten for about a week prior to his death and was having trouble sleeping.  


Cryptocurrency collapse continues: Prominent crypto hedge fund defaults on $670 million loan

Cryptocurrencies are continuing their staged collapse along with the rest of the U.S. economy under our hapless dementia patient of a president, Joe Biden.

As reported by CNBC, major crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital has defaulted on a loan worth more than $670 million in the latest disaster for the new-age currency, even as Bitcoin and other prominent cryptos continue shedding their value.

“Digital asset brokerage Voyager Digital issued a notice on Monday morning, stating that the fund failed to repay a loan of $350 million in the U.S. dollar-pegged stablecoin, USDC, and 15,250 bitcoin, worth about $323 million at today’s prices,” the outlet reported.

“3AC’s solvency crunch comes after weeks of turmoil in the crypto market, which has erased hundreds of billions of dollars in value. Bitcoin and ether are both trading slightly lower in the last 24 hours, though well off their all-time highs,” the report continued, adding: “Meanwhile, the overall crypto market cap sits at about $950 billion, down from around $3 trillion at its peak in Nov. 2021.”

Officials at Voyager said that the company is planning to pursue recovery from 3AC (Three Arrows Capital), but in the meantime, the brokerage firm made clear the platform remains in operation and is able to fulfill customer orders and withdrawals, CNBC noted. But that reassurance is most likely a public relations campaign aimed at limiting fear that the collapse will now spread to other cryptos and the wider ecosystem where they exist.

“We are working diligently and expeditiously to strengthen our balance sheet and pursuing options so we can continue to meet customer liquidity demands,” noted Voyager CEO Stephen Ehrlich.


The report adds:

As of Friday, Voyager said it had approximately $137 million in U.S. dollars and owned crypto assets. The company also noted that it has access to a $200 million cash and USDC revolver, as well as a 15,000 bitcoin ($318 million) revolver from Alameda Ventures.

Last week, Alameda (FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s quantitative trading firm) committed $500 million in financing to Voyager Digital, a crypto brokerage. Voyager has already pulled $75 million from that line of credit.

“The default of 3AC does not cause a default in the agreement with Alameda,” said the statement.

Three Arrows Capital was established by Zhu Su and Kyle Davies in 2012. The former is known to be significantly bullish in his views about bitcoin. Last year he claimed the world’s largest crypto may be worth around $2.5 million per coin, but in May as the crypto market began to tank in Biden’s economy, he announced on Twitter that his “supercycle price thesis was regrettably wrong.”

The recent onset of what has been dubbed a “crypto winter” has significantly harmed digital currency projects and firms across a broad spectrum. Three Arrow Capital’s issues appeared to begin earlier this month when Zhu posted a somewhat cryptic message that his company was “in the process of communicating with relevant parties” and is “fully committed to working this out.”

He never did follow up and list any specific issues, however.

However, following the tweet, the Financial Times reported that U.S.-based crypto lenders BlockFi and Genesis liquidated some of 3AC’s positions, quoting sources who were familiar with the matter. The firm had borrowed capital from BlockFi but was not able to meet the margin call, CNBC reported. That is a situation where an investor has to commit more funds in order to avoid losses on a trade that was made with borrowed money.

“The issue is that the value of their [3AC’s] assets as well has declined massively with the market, so all in all, not good signs,” Vijay Ayyar, vice president of corporate development and international at crypto exchange Luno, told CNBC.

“What’s to be seen is whether there are any large, remaining players that had exposure to them, which could cause further contagion.”