Ben Carson at 2015 Iowa Freedom Summit Photo credit: Dave Davidson - Prezography.com
Ben Carson at 2015 Iowa Freedom Summit
Photo credit: Dave Davidson – Prezography.com

***Updated***

Dr. Ben Carson has had a rough couple of days.  Carson who is running for president, doing well fundraising, and has fared well in the polls may have taken a big hit with pro-life activists he will need if he plans to win the Iowa Caucus.

Carson has been vocally critical of Planned Parenthood’s involvement in fetal tissue research that has allegedly been done for profit.  Wednesday a blog released after a blog pushed excerpts of a paper Carson wrote in 1992 that described research he carried out using aborted fetuses.

He defended the practice in an interview with The Washington Post on Thursday.

“You have to look at the intent,” Carson told the Post. “To willfully ignore evidence that you have for some ideological reason is wrong. If you’re killing babies and taking the tissue, that’s a very different thing than taking a dead specimen and keeping a record of it.”

This is at odds with what he told Fox News after the first video from the Center for Medical Research was released as reported by Breitbart News:

Carson said, in response, to the argument that Planned Parenthood uses fetal organs for medical research, “it’s been over-promised what the benefits of fetal research would be. And very much under-delivered. And if you go back over the years, and look at the research that has been done and all the things that it was supposed to deliver, very little of that has been done, and there’s nothing that can’t be done without fetal tissue. So, it’s a spurious argument, but, you know, what’s really disturbing is the fact that we have become so callous that a lot of people don’t even realize that this is shocking. To see the callousness, [with] which we are treating human life. It’s interesting that there are so many people who are concerned about snail darters and little spiders and things, and yet, the human being inside of that mother’s womb, just beyond, you know, 10 weeks, is much more sophisticated than many of these creatures that they’re trying to preserve. And we’ve created a dichotomy in what should be a[n] almost sacred relationship between a mother and that baby, and a mother is a protector of that baby, and we’ve distorted things to the point where people believe that if the mother can’t kill the baby, than anybody who’s advocating that is an enemy of women. How can we be so foolish as to believe such a thing?”

He added, “Well, I think the thing that’s really controversial about it [the video] is that it’s sort of like taking a cold fish and slapping you in the face when you’re falling asleep. And you begin to recognize how far we have drifted in terms of our humanity. And, you know, a little developing baby is just an incredible sight to behold. You know, now that we have very good ultrasound techniques, even have the ability to endoscopically look at these little human beings as they’re developing. [In reaction to pictures of a 17-week old child] At 17 weeks, you know, you’ve got a nice little nose and little fingers and hands, and the heart’s beating, and it can respond to environmental stimulus. I mean, how can you just believe that that’s a[n] irrelevant mass of cells? And that’s what they want you to believe, when in fact, it is a human being.”

The fetal tissue research that Carson defends was done with tissue from preborn babies older than 17 weeks.

“When we obtain tissue like that, we want to know what the origin of that tissue is developmentally,” Carson told The Washington Post explaining his research. “Knowing that helps us determine which patients are likely to develop a problem. It’s one of the reasons why at the turn of the last century, the average age of death was 47. Now, the average age of death is 80. Using the information that you have is a smart thing, not a dumb thing.”

Carson also said that fetal tissue research should not be outlawed.

If he meant research done on babies who have been miscarried with parental consent one could possibly see his point, but this appears to be a contradiction from what he originally says he believes and what Carson does in practice.

If he said to the Washington Post, I was wrong then.  I’ve changed my position since, many people could accept that since this paper was written 23 years ago.  He didn’t do that.  He defended it.

That’s a shame, and his reasoning is convoluted.  I won’t say what he did is the moral equivalence of what Planned Parenthood is doing, but it is not a practice that someone who professes to be pro-life should defend.

Update: He released a statement on Facebook:

I wanted to use our time tonight to directly deal with an attack launched on me today by the left and the media. A couple questions came in on this subject, so I want to address it head on.

Today I was accused by the press as having done research on fetal tissue. It simply is not true. The study they distributed by an anonymous source was done in 1992. The study was about tumors. I won’t bore you with the science. There were four doctors’ names on the study. One was mine. I spent my life studying brain tumors and removing them. My only involvement in this study was supplying tumors that I had removed from my patients. Those tissue samples were compared to other tissue samples under a microscope. Pathologists do this work to gain clues about tumors.

I, nor any of the doctors involved with this study, had anything to do with abortion or what Planned Parenthood has been doing. Research hospitals across the country have microscope slides of all kinds of tissue to compare and contrast. The fetal tissue that was viewed in this study by others was not collected for this study.

I am sickened by the attack that I, after having spent my entire life caring for children, had something to do with aborting a child and harvesting organs. My medical specialty is the human brain and even I am amazed at what it is capable of doing. Please know these attacks are pathetic attempts to blunt our progress.

Carson wasn’t done.  That was just one controversy.

On Thursday in an interview with Neil Cavuto, Carson was asked about abortion bans with exception clauses for rape and incest.  Carson indicated support for the abortion drug, RU-486, to be given in the emergency room for women who experience a rape.

This is definitely inconsistent with a pro-life message.

“In cases of rape and incest, I would hope they would very quickly avail themselves of an emergency room. And in the emergency room they have the ability to administer RU-486, other possibilities, before you have a developing fetus,” Carson told Cavuto.

Cavuto asked, “At the point of conception do you see that as life Doctor?”

“Certainly once the heart starts beating, certainly at that point. This is something that we need to come to accommodation. If we are willing to open up the discussion, both sides, I think we can come to an accommodation.  We’ll never come to an accommodation as long as we get off in our respective corners and say absolutely not,” Carson answered.

This is even worse. Now he advocates the abortion of those who have been conceived in rape or incest prior to a heartbeat.

Carson on his issues page “Protecting Innocent Life” says, “I am unabashedly and entirely pro-life. Human life begins at conception and innocent life must be protected.”

He waffled when the “pressure” was on with Neil Cavuto (whom I’ve not known to be a pro-abortion activist).  His answers to Cavuto’s questions are utterly inconsistent with what he claims on his website and have heard him proclaim publicly in speeches).

Children conceived in rape and incest are just as innocent as those who are not.  All abortion does in this case is create another victim. Also either you believe life begins at conception or you don’t.  Life doesn’t suddenly not begin at conception just because the circumstance is difficult.

On abortion there really isn’t any middle ground it’s naive to think that compromise on this issue is possible.  Certainly people can accept, pragmatically, that certain bills may not be passed and so strategies differ among pro-life activists.  Carson’s statement doesn’t reflect that.  He states approval for the use of an abortion drug.  That

With a crowded field Carson’s pathway to the nomination and largest base of support are social conservatives.  He has suffered an implosion that could cripple his ability to win.  He may have damaged his pro-life street cred beyond repair.

8 comments
  1. Hey Shane, at least be honest. Dr. Carson did nothing of the kind that you are stating. He didn’t experiment on aborted fetuses as you so wrongly claim. He provided tissue samples from from tumors of his patients that were in turn given to pathologists who compared and contrasted the samples with decades old archived tissue samples. Got it?! Go ahead, make your case, but please be honest. Which candidate are you fronting for?

    1. Doug, I never said he was experimenting on aborted fetuses. I also never said he provided tissue samples. All I did was contrast what he said to the Washington Post to what he said to Fox News using his own words.

      I also included his statement. If it satisfies you, great. Frankly what bothers me more, and you don’t even address this, is what he said about RU-486 and when life begins. I also think it’s pretty lame that you accuse me of fronting for a candidate. I am not backing any candidate. I never jump on a campaign this early. I take my time, listen to what they have to say, do my research. Interview them if given the possibility, listen to other interviews… You know actually vet them. Apparently you have not read the positive things I’ve said about Dr. Carson. I, unlike you, am actually objective. If it had been a different candidate who said these things this article would have been about them.

      1. I honestly don’t think this is going to be a problem with Pro-Lifers. How many pro-lifers support and ACTUALLY use birth control pills, which do EXACTLY the same thing as RU-486, which is to not allow a fertilized egg to implant. How many pro-lifers are “OK” with that? I’d bet that a VAST majority are either ok with it or at least don’t object or are willing to speak out against it. What it comes down to is the personal definition of “conception” and “conceiving” of a child.

  2. ok…. we now are all in agreement that Dr. Carson did not use aborted fetuses in his research.

    Only God knows when the sperm actually penetrates and unites with the egg after conception. If used immediately, the drug could be very useful and I would advocate it in cases of rape and incest.

    1. His statement does not explain away what he said to the Washington Post. Re. RU-486, I don’t personally know any pro-life activist who agrees with you. I also think you need to go look up what “conception” means.

  3. Dr. Carson is prolife and a pragmatic caring Doctor. Your attempt to editorialize his position diminishes hes ability to lead this nation as a conservative Christian. Write an article about how he came from the poverty of Detroit with a single mother to become a brilliant surgeon. He will help heal our nation as President.

  4. I think you are taking Carson’s words a little bit out of context.

    1) a. On the 1992 research paper: There were only two fetuses one was 9 weeks and one was 17 weeks. To say “The fetal tissue research that Carson defends was done with tissue from preborn babies older than 17 weeks,” which implies multiple preborn babies older than 17 weeks. Is a grave misrepresentation.

    b. The second thing is not being able to differentiate the difference between a single research paper from 23 years ago and the current practice performed by Planned Parenthood and the abortion pipeline.

    2) It could take up to 48 hours before a sperm fertilizes an egg and conception begins. To argue that Carson’s comment about RU-486 or other possibilities being provided to a patient in an ER visit does not necessarily contradict or show that he has waffled on his pro-life stance.

    Regarding his “life begins when there is a heartbeat” comment, it is a much stronger argument when facing opposition to defend than “life begins at conception.” Both stances are still very much pro-life. The one thing, is that for politicians, it’s an extremely fine line that must be walked. They need to get roughly 50,000,000 people with differing opinions to want to vote for them.

  5. Why would evangelicals choose a SDA candidate that is following the precepts of the SDA faith/hospitals? We have evangelical candidates that have always been true to the unborn. I personally believe that Mike Huckabee is the strongest advocate of the unborn in the field. “Now, you can be quietly and passively pro-life, or you can be passionately and actively PRO-LIFE. I am the latter. I first became politically active because of my view on the sanctity of life. I worked on Arkansas’s Unborn Child Amendment, which requires the state to do whatever it legally can to protect life. As governor, I sure did all I legally could. The many pro-life laws I got through my Democrat legislature are the accomplishments that give me the most pride and personal satisfaction. I pushed for and signed bills that banned partial-birth abortion; that required parental notification; that required a woman to give informed consent before having an abortion; that required a woman be told that her baby will experience pain and be given an option of anesthesia for her baby; that allowed a woman to deliver her baby and leave the child safely at a hospital; and that made it a crime for an unborn child to be injured or murdered during an attack on its mother.”-Mike Huckabee, Do The Right Thing

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