Education at a secular, government-funded university should never be compromised or infringed upon by one particular religious ideology. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happening to IU researchers as a result of the state’s latest abortion restrictions.
The new law, House Enrolled Act 1337, was signed by Gov. Mike Pence in April and is set to take effect in July. HEA 1337 would subject some researchers at IU to felony charges because they use fetal tissue in their medical and academic research.
The Editorial Board commends IU for the legal actions it’s taken against this heinous bill. We strongly condemn the governor, our legislature and the judges that support this bill and those who unethically use their power to impose one particular religious interpretation onto a spiritually and politically diverse body of people.
The use of fetal tissue in medical studies, known as “stem cell research,” will be outlawed in Indiana because HEA 1337 criminalizes the “receipt, transmission or purchase of fetal tissue for any reason.” The bill also requires abortion providers to bury or cremate fetuses, preventing the tissue from being donated and used in medical research.
Researchers at IU use fetal tissue in efforts to find cures for autism, Alzheimer’s and a number of other conditions. In response, the University has filed suit against the state of Indiana.
Continually, in what is supposedly the greatest nation on Earth, in the year 2016, we find ourselves fighting the religious right over restrictions on our educational freedom and the prohibition of medical progress.
We find ourselves, yet again, having to explain America is not a Christian nation. The First Amendment prohibits passing laws that impose religious regulations on behavior onto all people. A secular university is protected by the Constitution, which should allow them to conduct research using fetal tissue, because such research is not unethical or immoral by secular standards.
Despite the fact only 29 percent of Americans think stem cell research is “morally wrong,” despite the fact researchers never use whole fetuses at any stage in their viability and despite the fact only 19 percent of Americans think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, Mike Pence and the Indiana legislature has chosen to pander to extremists rather than the majority of their constituents.
And they’ve done so at the expense of our education and our ability to improve treatments for numerous medical conditions that afflict millions of Americans.
Considering the millions of dollars IU will lose in research grants, the compromises made to our education and health in addition to the absurdity of requiring that fetuses be buried and cremated, the consequences are impossible to rationalize. We hope the courts will believe the same.
We hope the ridiculous nature of this bill will soon be realized and it will be repealed accordingly.
We also encourage those on the religious right to examine their beliefs on the legality of abortion and decide whether imposing this extremism onto secular law is worth degrading the quality of our education and the quality of life for those suffering from conditions like autism and Alzheimer’s.
Upon doing so, we hope the religious right might become concerned with the lives of actual human beings and less concerned with a small package of embryos.
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