Saturday, March 14, 2009


As expected, the Religious Reich has begun its campaign against President Obama's lifting of restrictions on stem cell research. Lobbyists have been dispatched to Congress and to state legislatures to roll back the effects of the executive order, and they have given marching orders to sympathetic columnists as well. Their plans and arguments were described in an article in yesterday's Los Angeles Times.

Conservative leaders said they would lobby Congress to maintain a ban on using federal funds for research that creates or destroys human embryos. They also plan to advocate the use of induced pluripotent stem cells, which are artificially derived from adult cells, as an alternative to embryonic stem cells.

"We have no problem with research that does not result in the death of embryos. This would provide all the stem cell material necessary for research without causing unborn babies to be killed," said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. "This is very important to our community, and it will make a difference in how many of their constituents get their vote."
[Emphasis added]

Notice the language: "death" of embryos and "unborn babies." It's the same language used when abortion is under discussion. The argument is the same because the goal is the same, the end of reproductive freedom for women.

Conservative columnist Cal Thomas uses the same language in his diatribe against President Obama's executive order:

...Shifting moral sands will allow almost anything as soon as the public can be conditioned with images of a trembling Michael J. Fox, or an average American in a wheelchair pleading for the chance to walk again. The unborn have no voice except for those that cry out on their behalf. ...

Removing restraints on stem cell research is another step on a journey leading us to a distant somewhere. Does anyone know the destination? Do enough people care that it might just be leading us not only to the destruction of more pre-born human life, but also ultimately to our own end?
[Emphasis added]

The use of this kind of language, however, reveals the problem with this stance, as an ethicist noted in the Times article. Those embryos haven't been created out of nothing, they are the 'extras' left over from in vitro fertilization efforts at fertility clinics. No longer needed, they are frozen.

"It is a problematic strategy because when you define an embryo as a person, what they say is: Therefore you cannot destroy them. My response is: Therefore you cannot freeze them. How can you freeze a person and keep them suspended in animation?" said Paul Wolpe, director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University. "The idea that they can pick and choose which aspect of human life will be relevant is interesting."

Interesting, indeed, especially when the numbers of embryos "on ice" are rather staggering and will continue to grow. Ellen Goodman refers to it as a population explosion on ice in her latest column, which is the most honest and sensitive look at the issue I've found so far:

Since the 1980s, more than a half-million children have been created through IVF. There are also about a half-million leftover embryos. A third of the couples storing embryos have more than six, and at least one cryobank offering a prepaid five-year price of $1,188 says the embryos "can remain viable for an indefinite period of time."

Indefinite? Until couples are post-menopausal? Or post-mortem? Are they to be passed on from one generation to the next?

Ms. Goodman points out that the couples involved are given the option of what to do with the unused embryo, a choice which includes allowing the embryos to be used for research purposes. It is, after all, their jointly produced tissue which is involved. However, their decision might very well be trumped if the Religious Reich gets its way, or, they might not get to make any such decision if the unintended consequences of the anti-abortionists' stand makes the IVF procedure unlawful.

There are ethical concerns, justifiable ones, in stem cell research, which is why President Obama has referred the matter to the National Institutes of Health to draw up guidelines addressing those concerns. That clearly is still not acceptable to the anti-abortionists because it would circumvent them.

This is going to be a rough ride.

Labels: , ,


Blogger phyl said...

There are 100's of scientific studies that have been done on AFA and our product StemEnhance. There are also 100's of scientific papers on Adult Stem Cell therapy. I have listed quite a few on my blog that you can read at You can also find the book over at that Christian Drapeau wrote. It is called "The Stem Cell Theory of Renewal" Take a look if you would like to talk feel free to email or call me anytime 877-696-8581

7:18 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home