Wednesday, August 19, 2015

'Terrorized' -- The LA Times on the StemExpress Story

Highlights
Juggling threats to business
Realistic response by StemExpress

The Los Angeles Times today said anti-abortion activists have  “terrorized and harassed” a small California stem cell/human tissue firm in a heated, national campaign that threatens important medical research.

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Michael Hiltzik took on the issue in a column published this morning.

The piece began:
“Last week a small California company that provides human blood, cells and tissues to research scientists bailed on one of its partners, Planned Parenthood.
“Placerville, Ca.-based StemExpress, which had worked with Planned Parenthood to distribute fetal cells and tissues following abortions at the organization's clinics -- with the full consent of the patients undergoing the procedure -- ended its relationship with the healthcare provider ‘due to the increased questions that have arisen over the past few weeks.’ “These aren't questions about the legality or ethics of Planned Parenthood's activities, which haven't been legitimately challenged. They're questions about whether the organization's activities can survive a full-scale political onslaught.”
The headline on the article read:
“A terrorized and harassed corporate partner abandons Planned Parenthood”
 Hiltzik continued,
“StemExpress isn't terminating its relationship with Planned Parenthood because it thinks the relationship led it to do anything wrong. The firm doesn't think Planned Parenthood has done anything wrong, either. We know this because the company says so in a lawsuit it filed last month against the Center for Medical Progress. That's the anti-abortion group that has been releasing edited undercover videos of meetings it conducted, apparently under false pretenses, with Planned Parenthood officials and others.”
He wrote,
“One might think of StemExpress' action as cowardly. But it's more fair to regard it as realistic. In any controversy involving private enterprise, corporate self-interest is the soft underbelly for attack, because economic interest almost always trumps moral steadfastness; the smaller the company the less its defenses against bad publicity, no matter how ill-informed.”
Hiltzik said,
“Among the most disturbing aspects of this affair is its effect on the legal and often necessary use of fetal tissue in biological research. It's true that advances in science have made this less important than it used to be, but it's also true that it's still needed in work toward cures of muscular dystrophy, diabetes, degenerative eye disease and other conditions. CMP's campaign threatens this whole line of inquiry, because any business or nonprofit that serves these researchers will have to ask whether it's worth trying to resist political pressure or the threat to employees' safety.”
For more on StemExpress' problems, see here. Sphere: Related Content

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