Two professors at the Medical School yesterday said they have issued statements opposing a bill before the State Senate-House Judiciary Committee that would prohibit experimentation on human fetuses.
Dr. Arthur T. Hertig, professor of Pathology, said yesterday that he was opposed to the bill. He said that the human polio virus could not have been cultured had the bill been in effect in the early 1950s. Hertig explained that both the Salk vaccine and the german measles vaccines were developed from viruses obtained from human embryonic tissue.
The bill, introduced by Speaker David M. Bartley, states. "No person may use any human fetus, whether before or after an expulsion from its mother's womb, for scientific, laboratory or other kinds of experimentations or study, except to preserve the life of said fetus."
"This bill would've made criminals out of distinguished people who have helped the human race," Hertig said.
Dr. Thomas H. Weller, Strong Professor of Public Health, who isolated the german measles virus, said in a statement, "The passage of this bill would effectively stop ongoing studies on methods to prevent the current major cause of congenital brain damage, hearing loss and blindness."
Dr. Joseph Stanton of Tufts University contested the statements at last Thursday's meeting of the judiciary committee. He said that the bill only prohibited experimentation on willfully aborted but not "spontaneously aborted" fetuses.
"The Salk vaccine and the measles vaccine could have been developed on the kidneys of naturally-aborted fetuses," he added yesterday.
"Damning the bill as anti-science does not do justice to billions of Americans who believe in death with dignity and will not buy performing experiments on willed abortions," he said.
"If the bill results in a slow-down of fetal research, that is the price we must pay for ethical sensitivity to human life."
Both George McMahon, legislative aid to Bartley, and Stanton said that they thought that the bill would pass.
"Both Illinois and Minnesota have recently passed far more restrictive bills," Stanton said