Stem Cell Research: The Truth By: Josh Brahm Director of Education and Public Relations It’s being discussed in court rooms, board rooms, the halls of Congress and the classroom. You’ve probably even heard it discussed in the break room at work. It played a part in the Presidential debates last year. Christopher Reeve’s death brought it back in the news. Nancy Reagan continues to fight for it, misusing her pro-life husband’s death to further her case. Stem cell research is a hot topic that we should be informed about, so that we can defend our pro-life position. California recently passed Prop 71, allowing 6 billion dollars for embryonic stem cell research, and nothing for adult or neonatal stem cell research. So what’s the big deal about stem cell research? What are the facts that the liberal media is NOT telling us? The first thing we must learn is: what are stem cells? Stem cells are the building blocks of life. In the first few weeks of life, our tiny bodies are filled with stem cells that multiply and eventually turn into dozens of different cells that our bodies need, like heart cells, bone cells, skin cells, etc. Scientists envision drawing from “lines” of stem cells - colonies of similar cells that can replicate for long periods - to create new specialized cells for transplant into patients, to repair or replace tissues that disease and disability have damaged. 1 In other words, if John Smith has liver disease, theoretically a scientist could take stem cells and “steer” them to become liver cells, and treat Mr. Smith with them. Where can you find stem cells? You can find embryonic stem cells in two-weekold babies. You can find neonatal stem cells in used placenta and umbilical cords after birth, and adult stem cells can be found in more than 12 places of our bodies, including our blood stream, bone marrow and skeletal muscle. So what’s the problem? The key to understanding the ethics of stem cell research is knowing the difference between embryonic stem cell research, and adult and neonatal stem cell research. Allow me to explain. Adult stem cell research is not controversial; no human being dies when these cells are collected. Neonatal stem cell research is also non-controversial, for the same reason: It doesn’t kill the donor.
NIH, Stem Cells: Scientific Progress and Future Research Directions, 6/01
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Embryonic stem cell research, on the other hand, kills the donor every single time. Leftovers from invitro fertilization are taken, grown until they are 7-15 days old, then a scientist cuts the tiny human being down the middle, and extracts its stem cells, to be frozen and used later. There is absolutely no way to get stem cells from the baby without killing it. We’re not only killing babies in the womb now, we’re killing them in petri dishes, too. Embryonic stem cell research has not cured anything yet, partially because embryonic stem cells are harder to control then we first thought. Sometimes we can engineer them to become what we want; sometimes we can’t. For example, a man in China had embryonic stem cells transplanted into his brain to cure Parkinson’s, and while some of the stem cells became brain cells like they were supposed to, the others became hair and bone cells. The man died a painful death as bone tissue grew into his brain and killed him. 2 While embryonic stem cell research is yet to cure one thing, adult and neonatal stem cell research has had opposite results. Through adult stem cell research, diabetes patients have been off of insulin for over a year. Parkinson’s patients have shown an average improvement of sixty-one percent increase of coordination. 3 Twenty-three patients regained their eyesight following adult stem cell transplants. 4 A patient with multiple sclerosis improved after being treated with adult stem cells from his own blood. 5 Even spinal cord injuries have been treated, and previously paralyzed people are walking with braces. 6 The list goes on. If embryonic stem cell research becomes accepted by our society, you should know that human cloning is the next logical step. We often talk about being on a “slippery slope.” We’re not even at the top anymore. We’re more like riding down the slippery slope in a toboggan that’s been sprayed with Pam. We must act now to stop embryonic stem cell research; but before you can act, you must educate yourself about the issue. Contact the GRTL office for more info and research, and prepare to be a voice for the voiceless.
“Survival and proliferation of nonneural tissues, with obstruction of cerebral ventricles, in a parkinsonian patient treated with fetal allografts.” Neurology, Volume 46, Issue 5. May 1, 1996. 3 Gill, SS et al., “Direct Brain Infusion of Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor in Parkinson Disease.” Nature Medicine. May 9, 2003, p. 589-595. 4 Holland, Edward J et al., “Management of Aniridic Keratopathy With Keratolimbal Allograft: a Limbal Stem Cell Transplantation Technique.” Ophthalmology, Volume 110, Issue 1, p. 125-130. 5 Silber, Judy. “A Promising Weapon in the Fight Against MS.” Sept. 7, 2000. Accessed at: www.multsclerosis.org/news/Sep2000/LATimesMSStemCellTransplants.html 6 Zwillich, Todd, “Paralysis Patients Tout Adult Stem Cells: Portuguese Surgery Soon To Seek FDA Approval in US.” WebMD Medical News, June 24, 2004. Accessed at: http://my.webmd.com/content/Article/89/100250.htm
-2Georgia Right to Life www.grtl.org