WASHINGTON — Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center, a Roman Catholic institution, can continue working with cells derived from aborted fetuses, school officials said Friday.
Catholic doctrine opposes abortion, but the university decided to let researchers who have been using the cells continue their work into treatments for illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and cancer.
The medical center said in a statement that the researchers did not know the origins of the cell lines, which are between 25 and 40 years old. Of the 18 researchers using cell lines derived from aborted fetuses, 14 needed to keep using them. Four others were able to use alternative lines.
Under church guidelines, the cell lines can be used because the research could lead to lifesaving cures, because the pregnancies were not ended to get them and because "the connection to abortion was distant and remote enough so as to not encourage or contribute to abortion in any way," the university said.