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Rep. Greg DeVries (R-Jefferson City)

Rep. Greg DeVries (R-Jefferson City)

As the Montana House nears the end of its work for the first half of the 2019 legislative session, Democratic lawmakers again rose to their feet to object to the comments of a Republican colleague.

The dispute happened during a debate over bills related to vaccinations.

"How are vaccines made?'' said Rep. Greg DeVries, a Republican from Jefferson City. "We're told some modern vaccines derive from two aborted babies from a country that makes cheese with holes.

"Here is our first cause for some reasonable doubt. Our first example of the case for vaccines being untrue and immoral, cultured from aborted babies. This is not listed on the data sheet for vaccines. Only two babies, though. And unwanted anyhow. Like lab rats. Eating dog meat is immoral, but harvesting and injecting human tissue is a necessary health practice."

Minority Leader Rep. Casey Schreiner, a Democrat from Great Falls, rose to object. 

"The violations of decorum are getting very old," Schreiner said. "... We need to be better, Mr. Chair. Inappropriate. We object."

Democrats also objected to DeVries' comments earlier this month when he was speaking about an abortion bill and called out members of the American Indian caucus, saying "abortion is a plague on Indian culture and the genocide against your own children."

Schreiner's objection Thursday was eventually defeated by a vote of the full House, and DeVries continued: "One might argue that these babies were no different than organ donors, except how can one harvest lung tissue from a mere clump of cells? How can one harvest ...." 

He was stopped at that point by Rep. Kimberly Dudik, a Missoula Democrat, who rose to again object. Speaker Greg Hertz, a Republican from Polson, directed members of the House to "please stick with the facts and try not to impugn motives of other individuals."

DeVries said during a break in the floor session, which started at 8 a.m. and continued well into the evening, that he thought the objection was inappropriate.

"I was just stating the facts about how modern vaccines are made," DeVries said. 

According to a post on the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia webste, vaccines for chickenpox, rubella, hepatitis A and versions of vaccines for rabies and shingles "are all made by growing the viruses in fetal embryo fibroblast cells. Fibroblast cells are the cells needed to hold skin and other connective tissue together.''

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"The fetal embryo fibroblast cells used to grow vaccine viruses were first obtained from elective termination of two pregnancies in the early 1960s,'' the hospital's website said. "These same embryonic cells obtained from the early 1960s have continued to grow in the laboratory and are used to make vaccines today. No further sources of fetal cells are needed to make these vaccines.''

In reference to his "dog meat" comment, DeVries said he doesn't have a problem if someone wants to eat dog meat, but that "as a society in America it's an unspoken immorality to eat."

Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, a member of the Native caucus and Democrat from Box Elder, said he's involved in ceremonies that include eating dog meat. 

"The statement that was made is that eating dog meat is immoral ... we use that dog as part of (a) ceremony," said Windy Boy.

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State Bureau reporter for The Independent Record.

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