Prof who labeled fetus 'legitimate parasite,' compared to cancer: 'My point was not to indoctrinate'

  • A University of California-San Diego professor compared human fetuses to parasites.
  • The comparison showed up on a slide, a picture of which circulated on social media.

UPDATE: The professor of the course, as well as the school, reportedly responded to coverage of the slide. 

"Most of you probably realize that my point was to show that mammals are especially prone to invasive cancers because mammals evolved invasive placentation," the professor said in an email to students, according to a student, Fox News reported. "My point was not to indoctrinate you with the notion that fetuses are cancers, as insinuated in the article."

“This slide, while intended to show similar mechanisms of invasive processes, both implicitly and explicitly pathologizes pregnancy."   

The university also released a statement, saying, "the slide presents common, widely accepted scientific concepts and in no way represents a political statement," Fox News also reported.

Original story below... 

A lecture at the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine included a slide that drew “parallels between fetuses and cancers.”

In response to a Thursday night tweet containing a photo of one of the slides, Twitter users expressed disgust at the language used by the professor, who referred to the fetus as a “legitimate parasite” that “invades” a mother and “manipulates” her immunity.

Campus Reform obtained a copy of the full slide deck from the course, titled, "Evolution of Human Disease." The slide in question reveals that the comparison was billed as an attempt to explain the tendency of humans and other mammals to develop cancer.  Notes on the deck portray the comparison as a "practice question." 

[RELATED: Abortion doc: 'We have to get over the love affair with fetuses']

"The fetus: a legitimate parasite: rapidly grows, invades, manipulates immunity of mother, reshapes blood vessels," the top half of the slide reads. "The cancer: crashes the party, rapidly grows, invades, manipulates immunity, reshapes blood vessels," the bottom half reads. 

Stanford Medical student Dylan Griswold tweeted the photograph after he said it was sent to him by a student enrolled in the upper-level UCSD biology course.  He says he felt the need to do so in order to address the increasing tendency to speak about pregnancy as a disease.

“In a country where abortion on demand/till birth is becoming the norm, it becomes increasingly important to recognize the dignity of both the mother and her unborn child,” Griswold told Campus Reform

[RELATED: Purdue prof calls pro-life fetal images 'child pornography']

“This slide, while intended to show similar mechanisms of invasive processes, both implicitly and explicitly pathologizes pregnancy. It is no wonder why Planned Parenthood performs over 300,000 abortions each year - we treat pregnancy as a disease to be avoided at any cost - often at the highest expense, the life of the unborn child,” he added. 

Campus Reform reached out to both the professor and the university for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter:  @celinedryan 



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Celine Ryan
Celine Ryan | New Hampshire Senior Campus Correspondent

Celine Ryan is a New Hampshire Senior Campus Correspondent, and reports on liberal bias and abuse on campus for Campus Reform. Celine attends Cuesta College, where she where she serves as president of Young Americans for Liberty.

20 Articles by Celine Ryan