27 October 2009

The Devil is in the Details

Earlier today, I posted on the press release issued by Children of God for Life concerning the use of aborted fetal cell lines to develop anti-wrinkle cream.

A reader was kind enough to email me with a story of her purchase of products from this company--unaware of the process used to make it. She luckily investigated it prior to use, and exchanged in some correspondence with the company. She forwarded the exchange below, which purports to be this correspondence.

I reprint this with the identifying information redacted; I have no reason to doubt the veracity of this correspondence, but I have no way of verifying it either. So, if you are sceptical, fine-- take it with a grain of salt. I post it not for the accuracy of the contents, but rather for the arguments contained in the response defending the product. I believe that many of these same anti-life arguments are used in the vaccine debates, and that they are deceptive and dangerous.

STL Catholic,

...I was 'persuaded' to purchase Neocutis from a salon in STL, w/ out knowing what was in the products. I felt an urge the entire way home to go online and investigate what I had just purchased. The Holy Spirit was at work in that one. I got home and emailed the company and this is the response I received from the president[]. I immediately returned the product, unopened. The lady argued w/ me that 'it was not what we thought it was in the product and that 'she' would never sell such a product in her salon'. *sigh* This needs to be exposed to others who do not know any better. Thanks for doing just that.
I did not reply to [] as I was at a loss for words. :-(

God Bless,


--- On Mon, 7/27/09, []wrote:

From: []
Subject: Re: contact online from NEOCUTIS
To: []
Cc: []
Date: Monday, July 27, 2009, 5:47 PM

Dear Ms. []:

Again thank you for your interest in NEOCUTIS -

First short answers to your questions, then the entire cell origin story:

The original cells used to create our cell bank were donated by the parents of a child that did not come to term. The person donating the original cells is not alive.

Hopefully the reality behind our research will help with your question - NEOCUTIS products are not produced from aborted babies or cells from aborted babies. The cells used to make our lysate are cultured and come from a cell supply stored in a Cell Bank. The original cells used to create this Cell Bank came from a one-time single sample of donated fetal skin. This means that the original cells came from donated fetal skin, but all of the cells used to make our products are actually produced in the laboratory and are cultivated in the Cell Bank. The research department at the University Hospital Lausanne in Switzerland was the beneficiary of the original donation in a manner completely independent of the decision to medically intervene. Privacy laws and medical ethics preclude us from revealing the identity and diagnosis of the child; but we can tell you that the parents were informed by their physician that their child would not come to term and that a continued pregnancy would endanger the mother’s life. The parents were obviously distraught. Compassionately, they made a decision to have something good come of this saddening reality. Together they made the informed decision to help others by donating their child’s tissues to further research. They approached the medical team at the University Hospital Lausanne about their wishes and shortly thereafter their donation was made.

NEOCUTIS, Inc. was co-founded by three Catholic gentlemen in late 2004. We licensed the PSP® technology that is associated with cultured fetal skin cells. You need to know that some of our early concerns about fetal cells were similar to yours. We questioned the source of the cells as well as the enduring supply.

In order to address my personal concerns, I went directly to the Vatican Archives and eventually the Society of Pius X. The latter because of their conservative views and beliefs related to medical and moral issues. The result of my moral research was the basis for my decision to join my partners and begin the development of products to treat burns and heal wounds.

The closest relevant issue addressed by the Vatican was found in a document entitled, “Moral Reflection on Vaccines Prepared From Cells Derived from Aborted Human Fetuses”, supplied by the PONTIFICA ACADEMIA PRO VITA. The information contained in this document provided an analogous situation for reflection and comparison. After studying this document and consulting with local religious figures, I felt comfortable with my decision.

The document is full of information. The essential message came down to the following passages for me:

“…as the same vaccines are prepared from viruses taken from the tissues of fetuses that had been infected and voluntarily aborted, and the viruses were subsequently attenuated and cultivated from human cell lines which come likewise from procured abortions, they do not ceased to pose ethical problems.

If someone rejects every form of voluntary abortion of human fetuses, would such a person not contradict himself/herself by allowing the use of these vaccines of live attenuated viruses on their children? Would it not be a matter of true (and illicit) cooperation in evil, a problem which arises every time that a moral agent perceives the existence of a link between his own acts and a morally evil action carried out by others.”

The major point of contention for me was the source of the original cells and process for maintaining a continuous supply. The operative words for me were voluntary and procured abortions.

The source of the original cells was a small piece of a skin sample from a child that would not and could not come to term. The termination of the pregnancy was not voluntary nor was it procured. Furthermore, the mother’s life was in danger. This called for medical action on the part of the parents and their attending physician.

The couple was obviously very distraught about this situation and the subsequent distress experienced by the mother. However, they had the presence of mind to talk with their physician and agreed to participate in the tissue and organ donation program at the University Hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland. Research at the Hospital was the direct beneficiary of the compassion of these parents. The original tissue donation to the Hospital was a 4 cm2 sample of abdominal skin.

The cells from this skin sample were cultivated to form the original cell line. This cell line led to the creation of a Cell Bank, which is dedicated to the perpetuation and production of skin cells. It is important to understand that this single, one-time-only skin sample provided the start of this Cell Bank. There has not been, nor will there ever be another skin sample required to maintain the enduing supply of cells.

It is therefore my strong belief that what we do at NEOCUTIS is not evil or immoral. We use cells from a dedicated cell bank that was created as a result of a donation. This donation was not the result of a voluntary or procured abortion.

Even though at this time, our business focuses primarily on Appearance Medicine rather than burns and wound healing, I feel that our pursuits are noble and worthwhile.

I hope my beliefs and research have shed new light on these issues for you. If you have any questions or require additional information, please call me on my private line at [].

Date: Thu, 23 Jul 2009 22:52:21 -0400
To: []
Subject: contact online from NEOCUTIS

Your products
Under the technology section it states: "medically terminated'' Terminated means 'to bring to an end'. What I'm asking is where did this fetal cell line originate and is this person alive who 'donated' it (the person who gave the cells)??
message envoyé depuis neocutis.com


Fidelis said...

This is a shameful attempt to justify the unjustifiable. The abortion was clearly voluntary, even if it was the life of the mother at stake. Since Holy Mother Church never permits abortion in any case, from a Catholic standpoint, this tissue originated from the flesh of an aborted child.

It is complete nonsense to highlight that this tissue donation occurred only once and that the tissues come from a Cell Bank. Since fetal tissue cells can nearly perpetually reproduce (stem cells), that means that this cell line originated from the fetal tissue and can be maintained nearly in perpetuity, but the fact is, it came from the aborted child. That said, it is disingenuos to indicate that these cells never need to be replenished. Cells can only go through a limited number of passages (splitting cells into multiple petri dishes once they outgrow the dish they are in) before fresh cells need to be used to start the cultivation all over again. They may never need tissue again, because they already have billions of cells from the initial "harvest."

It is despicable to say the least how the Vatican document which is already questionable and comes to us without Papal infalliability is being further twisted to support as ridiculous and unnecessary a product as skin creme. The vaccines that come from aborted children are still in my mind, and in those of many a moral theologian, unethical. It is shameful to use this vaccine information (which at least one can say vaccines are necessary and save lives) to justify beauty products.

The culture of death continues to move forward full steam ahead and it is sad to see Vatican committees and well meaning Catholics helping to guide the process through support of stem cell usage and organ harvesting and transplantation.

thetimman said...

Fidelis, your point is well taken, but I don't think the Vatican committee at issue supports this sort of thing at all. The document published by the Pontifical Academy for Life concerns the relative moral culpability for those who receive vaccines derived from aborted fetal cell lines, and the the culpability for those who manufacture or sell them.

That document is very clear:

1. It is always gravely immoral to make them or promote their sale. So the company here clearly runs afoul of the document from the get-go.

2. The PAL allows the possibility of use for vaccines against certain deadly diseases as a form of permissible remote material cooperation in the evil of the original abortion IF the recipient does not will the abortion, no ethical alternatives exist, and that person makes their views known to the relevant business and political persons that such vaccines are morally unacceptable. In short, the PAL document considers such a situation tantamount to coercion. However, even this clause of the document would not cover use of an anti-wrinkle cream. Wrinkles aren't considered a cause of death (not that I have read the current health care bill).

3. Finally, though it makes the exception in number 2, the PAL document states in the strongest terms that no one should be forced to use such vaccines, and that parents should be allowed to opt out of such vaccines for their children.

It boils down to the well-informed conscience of the recipient. I could not knowingly receive such a vaccine, but the concept of permissible remote material cooperation is not a new one in Catholic moral theology.

If the email in the post is indeed that of the company's owner, his rationale is way off, the documents he cites are inapposite, and he is seriously in error.

just wondering said...

maybe you could send the "must have dead baby skin to make lots of money company" the abortion ticker at the side of the screen as a wake up call, i was just wondering...

Fidelis said...

I did not proofread my comment. I formally retract that last statement and apologize for sloppy and unintentionally inflammatory comments. Feel free to edit it if you are cabable. I meant to say that:

The culture of death continues to move forward full steam ahead and it is sad to see well meaning Catholics helping to guide the process through support of stem cell usage and organ harvesting and transplantation. It is also sad to see them twisting Vatican committee documents to support their positions.

I agree that the PAL does not support these things, including unethical vaccines, but it does fall short of prohibiting these vaccines when derived from unethical sources. Our family has decided to abstain from unethical vaccines because the end does not justify the means.

thetimman said...

Fidelis, no problem, I don't think the comment was inflammatory at all. And I totally agree with your rephrased comment.