At last night’s Republican presidential debate, Mike Huckabee offered a convenient solution to all of America’s health care concerns: Rather than focus on improving access to health care, why not just cure all the diseases that make people sick?
“We don’t have a health care crisis in America, we have a health crisis,” he said. “And until we deal with the health of Americans and do what we did with polio — when I was a little kid, we eradicated it. You know how much money we spent on polio last year in America? We didn’t spend any. We’ve saved billions of dollars.”
Huckabee conveniently failed to mention that we wouldn’t have the polio vaccine — among others — without fetal tissue research, a practice he wants to ban and has roundly criticized in the wake of deceptive sting videos targeting Planned Parenthood.
“One of the earliest advances with fetal tissue was to use fetal kidney cells to create the first poliovirus vaccines, which are now estimated to save 550,000 lives worldwide every year,” CNN reported. “In the early days of making the vaccine, researchers infected fetal kidney cells in Petri dishes to produce a large amount of virus that they could then harvest, purify and use to vaccinate people. (The virus evolves to become less deadly when it infects cells out of the body, and thus could safely be given to people to prime their immune system for the real thing.) Today manufacturers of the polio vaccine use other types of human cells, which weren’t available in the mid-1900s. They also use monkey cells, which they originally avoided for fear that making the vaccine in animal cells could put people at risk of diseases from other species. Many of our other common vaccines, such as chicken pox, rubella and shingles, have been produced in tissue derived from fetuses, particularly two electively terminated pregnancies from the 1960s.”
Seeing that Huckabee has floated the idea of using the National Guard to raid abortion clinics and promised to outlaw abortion by executive fiat, he should probably give a close look into the development of the polio vaccine.