Dr. Ben Carson came into the public eye with his 2013 Prayer Breakfast speech at the White House.  Conservatives, myself included, were thrilled to see a prominent physician speak out for life and against many Obama policies . . . with Obama squirming in his chair only a few feet away. We love someone who is brave enough to stand for their principles and unafraid to take on the powers that be (as witnessed by the strong conservative support we are currently seeing for Trump). Dr. Carson was, many conservatives thought and still think, just what the doctor ordered.

There was a hiccup along the way, however, when Dr. Carson made his remarks that the Second Amendment should only being applied to some people, depending on where they live. Populated areas, he felt, were not the place for legal gun ownership. He later clarified these remarks and asserted that he is “extremely pro–Second Amendment, no question about it,” and the issue kind of faded away.

Now, Dr. Carson is facing another controversy stemming from Dr. Jen Gunter’s blog post stating that he “once did research on 17-week aborted fetal tissue.” It seems that Dr. Carson was one of several authors listed on a paper, published in Human Pathology in 1992, detailing his and others’ study of adult and fetal tissue.

Dr. Carson’s first defense of his purported fetal tissue research appeared in The Washington Post:

“You have to look at the intent,” Carson said before beginning a campaign swing through New Hampshire. “To willfully ignore evidence that you have for some ideological reason is wrong. If you’re killing babies and taking the tissue, that’s a very different thing than taking a dead specimen and keeping a record of it.”

. . . .  “When we obtain tissue like that, we want to know what the origin of that tissue is developmentally,” he said. “Knowing that helps us determine which patients are likely to develop a problem. It’s one of the reasons why at the turn of the last century, the average age of death was 47. Now, the average age of death is 80. Using the information that you have is a smart thing, not a dumb thing.”

Asked if fetal tissue research should be banned, or if it was immoral, Carson said no.

“Bear this in mind about pathologists,” said Carson. “Regardless of what their ideology is, when they receive tissue, they prepare the tissue. They label it. They mark how it got there. Regardless of whether it’s from a fetus or someone who’s 150 years old, they bank them in tissue blocks. Other people doing comparative research need to have a basis. When pathologists receive specimen, their job is to prepare the specimen. They have no job opining on where the tissue came from.”

There was no contradiction between this science and Carson’s pro-life views, he said. “My primary responsibility in that research was when I operated on people and obtained the tissue,” said Carson, who noted that he has not used fetal tissue samples since then. “This has everything to do with how it’s acquired. If you’re killing babies and taking the tissue, that’s a very different thing than taking a dead specimen and keeping a record of it.”

Asked if Planned Parenthood should cease its fetal tissue distribution, Carson demurred. He still favored defunding the group, but would not call for the end of fetal tissue research so long as the fetal tissue was available.

This gets complicated for some because, as with fetal stem cell research, it opens a can of worms that pits medical research and scientific study against morality and human ethics.  It is further complicated because Dr. Carson himself said in July that Planned Parenthood’s defense is “spurious” because there is “nothing that can’t be done without fetal tissue.”

Last night, he was interviewed by Eric Bolling for the O’Reilly Factor to discuss the racist origins and purpose of Planned Parenthood.  During this interview, the topic of the claims that he had engaged in fetal research was broached, and Dr. Carson stated, apparently contradicting his comments to WaPo, that he had “not actually worked with fetal tissue.”

The interview starts at around the minute mark; the relevant comments about fetal tissue research at 5:28.  Watch:

Dr. Carson’s statements explaining his role in the 1992 paper from the above interview:

“Well, I have not actually worked with fetal tissue. The left has put out information saying that I’ve done research on fetal tissues because my name appears on an article in which the pathologist compared specimens that I delivered from the operating room to some fetal tissues, in an attempt to decide which way the cells were being differentiated. You know, my part is to do the operation and supply the tissue. At that point, I move on to the next operation. So, to suggest that I’m in the laboratory actually doing the research, or retrieving fetal tissue, is nothing but propaganda.”

Also making the rounds are his comments on Neil Cavuto’s show in which Dr. Carson expressed his support for the distribution of the “abortion pill,” RU-486, in cases of rape or incest.