Stem Cell Research
Rochester Area Right To Life
|Articles on this page:
Stem Cell Poll - 70% oppose taking a life
A Stem Cell Commentary Interview With Genetics Prof. David Prentice on Stem Cell Research
Favoring Fetal-Cell Use Is Plainly Not Pro-Life. Dr. Doran explains why a woman who choses abortion really cannot give informed consent for the use of her baby in stem cell or other research.
Adult Stem Cell Successes: You hear about the possibilities of embryonic stem cell cures. So now read about the realities of cures with adult stem cells. Cures where you don't have to kill one person to help another.
New Poll Shows 70% Oppose Stem Cell Research That Kills Unborn Children
(A June 8 press release from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops)
Washington, DC -- As two very different bills are introduced in the House of Representatives this week on stem cell research, a new poll commissioned by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops shows that Americans strongly prefer one approach over the other.
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) has introduced the "Stem Cell Research Act of 2001" (H.R. 2059) to change the law so federal funds can be used to destroy human embryos for their stem cells. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) has introduced the "Responsible Stem Cell Research Act of 2001" to increase funding for stem cell research that does not require destruction of human life at any stage.
Questions about these two approaches to stem cell research were included in a multi-issue survey conducted by International Communications Research (ICR), a national polling firm headquartered in Media, Pennsylvania. A weighted sample of over a thousand American adults was surveyed by telephone between June 1 and June 5 to obtain the results.
The poll suggests that Americans oppose federal funding of stem cell research that requires destroying human embryos, by a factor of almost three to one (70% to 24%). Asked to choose between funding all stem cell research (both adult and embryonic), and funding only adult stem cell research and similar alternatives to see if there is no need to destroy embryos for research, Americans prefer the latter approach by an even wider margin (67% to 18%).
"Polls sponsored by groups promoting destructive embryo research claim to show broad support for their agenda," says Richard Doerflinger, Associate Director for Policy Development at the NCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. "They create this illusion by using what political campaigns call 'push polls' -- presenting false and misleading claims as though they are fact, to push the respondent to a favorable answer. They even avoid mentioning the destruction of human embryos, asking only if people support the use of stem cells 'that come from excess fertilized eggs.' Perhaps they use this scientifically absurd euphemism out of fear that many Americans recognize a 'human embryo' as a human life."
"Even the Clinton Administration's guidelines for embryonic stem cell research insist that parents donating embryos for this research must be told that the embryos will not survive the harvesting process," said Mr. Doerflinger. "Federal officials recognized that failing to mention this important fact would violate parents' right to informed consent. Why do some advocacy groups want to deny Americans that right of informed consent when they conduct polls?"
The results of the new ICR survey are as follows:
1. Stem cells are the basic cells from which all of a person's tissues and organs develop. Congress is considering whether to provide federal funding for experiments using stem cells from human embryos. The live embryos would be destroyed in their first week of development to obtain these cells. Do you support or oppose using your federal tax dollars for such experiments?
|Support 23.9%||Oppose 69.9%|
|Don't know 4.8%
2. Stem cells for research can be obtained by destroying human embryos. They can also be obtained from adults, from placentas left over from live births, and in other ways that do no harm to the donor. Scientists disagree on which source may end up being most successful in treating diseases. How would you prefer your tax dollars to be used this year for stem cell research? (Options rotated)
|Supporting all methods, including those that require destroying human embryos, to see which will be most successful - 17.6%||Supporting research using adult stem cells and other alternatives, to see if there is no need to destroy human embryos for research. - 66.8%|
|Neither (volunteered) - 8.6%
Don't know - 6.3%
Refused - 0.7%
The survey of 1013 adult Americans has a margin of error of plus or minus 3%.
Source: National Conference of Catholic Bishops, press release June 8, 2001 as quoted in the Pro-Life Infonet 6/8/01 #2450. The Pro-Life Infonet is a daily compilation of pro-life news and information. To subscribe, send the message "subscribe" to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Infonet is sponsored by Women and Children First (http://www.womenandchildrenfirst.org). For more pro-life info visit http://www.prolifeinfo.org and for questions or additional information email email@example.com
An excerpt from an
Interview With Genetics Prof. David Prentice on Stem Cell Research
[Pro-Life Infonet Note: Pro-life Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) recently introduced the Responsible Stem Cell Research Act of 2001. National Review's Kathryn Lopez discussed the bill with David Prentice, a professor of life sciences at Indiana State University and an adjunct professor of medical & molecular genetics at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Prentice also serves as an ad hoc science adviser to pro-life Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS).]
Question: Does the press mislead the public on these issues (for example, by not reporting successes with adult stem cells and failures with fetal and embryonic cells)?
Prentice: The general perception has been that the "hype" goes to embryonic stem-cell research, even though there's precious little substance to go along with the promises being made. And [there's the impression] that adult stem-cell successes get much less coverage, and the negatives of embryonic little or no coverage. Interestingly, beyond impression, there was a study done recently by the Statistical Assessment Service on how balanced the reporting was regarding embryonic vs. adult stem cells. The study found that the impressions of the unequal coverage were well founded. There is obviously still a need to dispel the misleading statements and restore balance and truth to the reporting.
Question: Last month, Christopher Reeve and seven scientists sued the Bush administration for doing "irreparable harm" for halting federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research for the time being, a policy that is currently under review. They accuse the administration of "preventing or delaying the advent of a cure for paralysis, Parkinson's disease, diabetes and other debilitating conditions." Is that true? Or is there stem-cell research still going on in the U.S.?
Prentice: Delaying the funding of two or three projects (the number submitted) will not make or break any cure, especially in such an "embryonic" area of research, one which is frankly much farther away from such cures than adult stem-cell research. And embryonic stem-cell research will continue as it has been using private funds, likely by those same investigators, and likely with more funding than adult stem-cell research.
Source: National Review; June 8, 2001 as quoted in the Pro-Life Infonet 6/10/01 #2451. The Pro-Life Infonet is a daily compilation of pro-life news and information. To subscribe, send the message "subscribe" to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Infonet is sponsored by Women and Children First (http://www.womenandchildrenfirst.org). For more pro-life info visit http://www.prolifeinfo.org and for questions or additional information email email@example.com
Adult Stem Cells More Effective Than Those From Aborted Babies
London, England -- New research in the UK has raised further hope that adult stem cells can be used to repair the damage caused by strokes to brain cells, British scientists heard Monday.
Experiments carried out on rats indicate that transplants of stem cells - the "building blocks" of bodily tissue - can help stroke victims regain movement, senses and understanding. They also show that the adult cells were more effective than cells from aborted babies, which have been at the center of a recent scare involving the treatment of patients with Parkinson's disease.
The researchers are presenting their findings Monday to the British Neuroscience Association's annual conference in northern England, and published them in the Stroke Journal.
The potential of stem cells to develop and translate into other types of cells has excited scientists worldwide, raising hopes they may be able to help undo the damage of strokes and help cure degenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
But the issue has also raised controversy, primarily in that many researchers want to harvest stem cells from human embryos, believing them to offer the greatest benefits. Other specialists argue that "adult stem cells" - taken for example from umbilical cords - offer an effective, and ethical alternative.
The use of embryos for the purpose of harvesting stem cells alarms pro-lifers.
The early-stage human beings are destroyed after the stem cells have been removed. Adding to the debate is the recent approval by the UK government of cloning of human embryos for this limited purpose. An Italian scientist has already announced his intention to clone a human being within a year.
When a person has a stroke, blood supply is cut off from areas of brain tissue, leading to the loss of many mature cells, and often leaving the patient unable to control his or her movements.
The new study, by researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry in London and a biotechnology company, showed that transplanted adult stem cells made their way to whichever area of the damaged brain needed repair. The adult stem cells also appeared to boost the production of an important protein that usually increases after a stroke as the brain attempts to heal itself, helping to connect damaged and undamaged parts of the organ.
The experimental rats' movement and cognitive abilities improved after the introduction of the stem cells, the researchers found.
The movement of stem cells to the damaged area of the brain differs from the behavior of fetal stem cells, which they say remain in one place when transplanted.
Scientists in the United States have been injecting cells from aborted babies into the brains of Parkinson's patients, but it was reported in early March that the experiment was being abandoned after side-effects described as "absolutely devastating" were observed.
"We expect that stem cells will prove far safer and more flexible for repair of brain damage than primary fetal cells," research leader Dr. Helen Hodges was quoted as saying. "They are not likely to worsen symptoms, as recently reported in elderly Parkinson patients."
The British study comes in the wake of an earlier one by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, which came to similar conclusions, as did another last year by the Institute for Stem Cell Research in Milan, Italy.
Researchers at the University of South Florida in Tampa have also found that stem cells from the tiny amount of blood found in the umbilical cords of newborn babies may be able to help repair damaged brain tissue after a stroke.
The research has provided further weight to arguments that adult stem cells may hold sufficient potential to make it unnecessary to use embryonic cells - or to use therapeutic research as justification to allow embryonic cloning.
Source: Cybercast News Service; April 9, 2001 as quoted in the Pro-Life Infonet 4/10/01 #2403 The Pro-Life Infonet is a daily compilation of pro-life news and information. To subscribe, send the message "subscribe" to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Infonet is sponsored by Women and Children First (http://www.prolifeinfo.org/wcf). For more pro-life info visit http://www.prolifeinfo.org and for questions or additional information email email@example.com
Favoring Fetal-Cell Use Is Plainly Not Pro-Life
by Stephen E. Doran, M.D.
[Pro-Life Infonet Note: Stephen E. Doran, M.D. is an Omaha, Nebraska neurosurgeon.]
As a practicing neurosurgeon and member of the clinical faculty at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, I have treated individuals with neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease. I have also published laboratory research investigating strategies in gene therapy for neurodegenerative disorders. These diseases slowly and mercilessly destroy the lives of affected individuals as well as their families. I would rejoice at any insight into these disorders, as long as this information is obtained in a morally acceptable fashion.
If an individual believes that abortion is a morally acceptable action, then there is no argument that can persuade him or her that research using fetal tissue from induced abortion is morally wrong. However, a large number of Nebraskans believe that abortion is a morally reprehensible action and as such believe that publicly funded institutions should not use taxpayer revenue to support immoral research. No argument would persuade them to think otherwise.
Yet, there are individuals, some of whom are state legislators, who consider themselves "pro-life" - i.e., against abortion - yet feel that they can in good conscience support research that uses fetal remains from induced abortion.
The goal of this commentary is to build a solid, rational argument that dispels the notion that one can be "pro-life" and simultaneously support what is immoral research.
Opponents of Legislative Bill 462 believe that the research using fetal tissue from induced abortion is morally distinct from abortion itself. They argue (without solid evidence) that using fetal remains from induced abortion would not result in a greater number of abortions and, therefore, that the two actions are not morally linked.
This could not be further from the truth as demonstrated by the ethical principle of "moral complicity." If a scientist uses fetal cells from induced abortion, it places him or her in moral complicity with the abortionist. That is, the scientist becomes an accomplice to the action of abortion. This type of research requires an ongoing collaboration with the practice of abortion. The scientist and the abortionist must interact in a premeditated, substantial fashion in order for the research to be a success. The tissues must be either delivered immediately or prepared in a fashion compatible with the design of the experiment. In either situation, as outlined in LB 462, an unavoidable entanglement with abortion providers occurs.
Opponents of LB 462 argue that the fetal remains would otherwise be discarded and as such it is a "nobler" end for them to be used for research purposes. This argument can be refuted on the basis of "informed consent." In almost all cultures, human remains are treated with deference, and to use them without consent for research purposes would violate this tradition of respect.
Who, then, has the right to consent to use this tissue? The intuitive response is that the mother has the right to consent because the unborn child is merely a part of her body, much like her blood, skin or internal organs. The flaw in this claim is that although the tissue is from within her body, it is the body of another, with a distinct genotype, blood, gender, etc.
|The alternative response would then be that either parent, acting as the child's guardian, could give consent. However, once the parents have decided to destroy the unborn child, they implicitly abandon their role as guardian. One cannot presume to act in a child's best interest and simultaneously plot his or her destruction.|
It has also been suggested that using fetal tissue from induced abortions is morally identical to organ donation from victims of auto accidents. This analogy fails to take into account the clear difference between intentional and accidental death.
Others have suggested that using tissue from aborted fetuses is analogous to organ transplantation from a homicide victim. Here the death is also intentional. However, in the case of the homicide victim, the person giving consent for donation is not the person responsible for the death.
Finally, opponents of LB 462 argue that such legislation would impede the university's ability to attract talented scientists and that research in neurodegenerative disorders would come to a halt. There is no evidence to support this. In fact, the true "cutting-edge" research being done now uses adult stem cells as a source for tissue. Adult stem cells are primitive cells found in mature tissues, such as bone marrow or even the brain itself. These cells can be harvested from a living individual and then stimulated in tissue culture to transform into more specialized cells, which then could be used for research or even therapeutic purposes. While this technique is still in the early phases of development, it is exceptionally promising and, equally important, is morally acceptable.
It is clear, then, that one cannot claim to be both "pro-life" and simultaneously support research using fetal remains derived from induced abortion. The ethical principles of moral complicity and informed consent refute this, and the scientific promise of adult stem cells make such research unnecessary.
Source: Omaha World Herald; April 3, 20012001 as quoted in Pro-Life Infonet 4/9/01 #2402. Emphasis and formatting is done by RARTL, not the author. The Pro-Life Infonet is a daily compilation of pro-life news and information. To subscribe, send the message "subscribe" to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Infonet is sponsored by Women and Children First (http://www.prolifeinfo.org/wcf). For more pro-life info visit http://www.prolifeinfo.org and for questions or additional information email email@example.com
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