By Cheryl Sullenger
In 1918, a man named John R. Brinkley opened a 16-room clinic in Milford, Kansas. There, in addition to treating influenza, Brinkley boasted of a treatment he developed to increase male virility.
Brinkley became famously wealthy by transplanting goat testicles into men in order to “improve” their sexual prowess and “treat” other male prostate problems.
Brinkley was later exposed as a charlatan, which led him into a failed run for Governor of Kansas, where, if successful, he planned to appoint his own medical board to set standards that would allow him to continue his quackery.
Thankfully, this case led to increased oversight and safety standards for the medical profession.
Now, an article that appeared last week in the Washington Post laments the opening of over 500 stem cell treatment clinics across the U.S., which are unregulated and supply treatments that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“According to a study, at least 351 companies with 570 clinics are marketing unapproved treatments for conditions such as osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s, autism and injured spinal cords, as well as for cosmetic enhancements,” states the Washington Post.
The clinics, which supposedly derive stem cells from the patient’s own fat or bone marrow, are considered by the FDA to pose a danger to the public. The agency recommends regulation to protect the public from “unscrupulous providers of stem cell treatments that are illegal and potentially harmful.”
It’s hard not to see the similarities between today’s unregulated “stem cell treatments” and Brinkley’s nefarious goat gland business.
But while the concern over stem cell treatment clinics is warranted, it is hypocritical at best, given the abysmal state of abortion clinics in our nation. Inspection deficiency reports – in states that bother to inspect abortion facilities — document the substandard conditions in which off-label use of ulcer medications and heart drugs contribute to nearly a million abortions each year. Pro-life groups, such as Operation Rescue, frequently report on one abortion-related injury after another.
Now, with the latest Supreme Court edict in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which struck down provisions of a 2011 Texas abortion safety law, there is a huge push by abortion providers to dismantle abortion safety regulations and return abortion facilities to a time of no accountability.
Apparently now, it is considered an “undue burden” to expect those conducting abortions to have hospital privileges or for clinics to have hallways that can fit a gurney in the frequent event an abortion patient must be hospitalized.
In reality, all the stem cell clinics are doing is following the business model of the Abortion Cartel and even John R. Brinkley himself. They want a hands-off approach from regulators so they may conduct their profitable but dubious “treatments” without the scrutiny of those responsible for ensuring medical standards are being met.
It is clear that this nation has forgotten the most important lesson of the Brinkley case, which was re-emphasized in the Kermit Gosnell murder trial. Gosnell was a late-term abortionist that operated in Pennsylvania for years without of any kind of oversight while conditions deteriorated into squalor, and practices, such as snipping the necks of babies born alive during failed abortions, descended into barbarity.
The grand jury that indicted Gosnell issued an indictment of sorts to the regulators who failed in their duty to monitor Gosnell and others like him:
If oversight agencies expect to prevent future Dr. Gosnells, they must find the fortitude to enact and enforce the necessary regulations. Rules must be more than words on paper.
We recommend that the Pennsylvania Department of Health plug the hole it has created for abortion clinics. They should be explicitly regulated as ambulatory surgical facilities, so that they are inspected annually and held to the same standards as all other outpatient procedure centers. Inspectors should review patient files, including ultrasound images, on site. Equipment, and employees’ licenses, should be scrutinized. Second trimester abortions should be performed or supervised by physicians board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology.
While the Supreme Court ignored the admonishment of the Gosnell grand jury, regulators around the country must not. Whether it be unlicensed stem cell treatment clinics or abortion facilities that shun licensing standards, regulation and oversight are life-saving necessities. That is, unless we wish to return to the time before medical standards when charlatans like Brinkley and his goat gland scheme flourished.
Some might say we are already there. Goat gonads, anyone?