We deserve better than stem cell research fraud

January 10, 2007 09:00 AM

Commentary by Judie Brown

Very early in my life I learned a valuable lesson: when you manipulate the truth, you not only distort the subject you are discussing but you bring shame upon yourself as well.

As I have read the various news reports dealing with the Pelosi push for limitless funding of human embryonic stem cell research, I have been reminded of that lesson more times than I care to tabulate. And it consistently amazes me that those who lead the cheer for human embryonic stem cell research appear oblivious to the source of real progress and downright comatose about the abysmal results of the very research they favor.

But perhaps the fundamental problem is far more serious. You see not once in all the discussion over the congressional bill, H.R. 3, "Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007," have we experienced an actual biology lesson on the identity of the human embryo. We have been told that these embryos are "leftovers" and that they are going to be "discarded anyway."

For example, we have heard Congressman Michael Castle (R-Del.) say that the race to cure "tens of millions of patients suffering worldwide from diseases such as Juvenile Diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, cancer and AIDS" makes increased funding for human embryonic stem cell research a must! His January 9 statement went on to justify the killing of human embryos by telling the public that "the decision to discard the embryo which will be used for the research will already have been made and only then can the couple donate an embryo for research."

Let's state that in a different way so that we get the full meaning of this deceptively phrased statement. What if Castle had said "The decision to throw away the one-year-old baby which will be used for the research will already have been made and only then can the parents donate their child's body for research?"

Think about it. Would the public sit still for that kind of research? Of course not. But what is the actual difference between a one-year-old child and an embryonic child? Size and age. That is the only difference. The human being who is described as an embryo is no different than the human being who is described as a one year old child. As MIT stem cell scientist Dr. James Sherley said, "Whether or not the embryo has yet developed spinal nerves or self-awareness is an irrelevant point made to distract and confuse. I challenge the promoters of human embryonic stem cell research to justify why another human embryonic life is less worthy than their own was." The language of the human embryonic stem cell research crowd has been specifically designed to deny the truth, to dismiss the human embryo as nothing more than a clump of cells and to make those of us who favor protecting such individuals from death and destruction appear to be unfeeling, heartless simpletons who do not care about curing diseases or relieving suffering people of their pain and agony.

But these same individuals will not take a moment out to study the facts about stem cell research, the advances that have been made using adult stem cells, cord blood stem cells or, most recently, stem cells taken from amniotic fluid. In fact, the rush to deny such successes is so transparent; even the lead scientist for the amniotic fluid stem cell breakthrough took time out of his busy schedule to let the world know that he wants Congress to fund embryonic stem cell research and that the legislation in question needs to pass! Why? Because, in my humble view, he has joined the ranks of those who believe that it is all about the money ... the more dollars the better, regardless of whether the particular research being funded is actually producing promised results.

One commentator even correctly suggested that scientific claims are inflated specifically to garner more and more money.

Yet anyone who would take the time to review the record would immediately notice that the best and most promising research being done today uses either the patient's own stem cells, cord blood stem cells or no stem cells of any kind. There is nothing to indicate that human embryonic stem cell research is effectively producing any promising results.

State after state is authorizing huge expenditures of taxpayer dollars so that they can remain in the race. Huge biotech companies are investing millions in the research, and now Congress wants to expand that funding base to include millions of federal tax dollars as well. For what? I ask you.

In Toronto Canada researchers have discovered a cure for diabetes in mice. Not a single stem cell of any kind was used in the initial research, yet few have heard about the work of Fr. Hans Michael Dosch and Dr. Michael Dalter whose injection of the active ingredient in hot chili peppers into the pancreatic sensory nerves of mice produced the amazing discovery. Yet not a single human embryo was killed.

In Illinois a three-year-old child suffering from leukemia was given a lifesaving infusion of her own cord blood which saved her life and now at age six she is thriving. Not a single human embryo was killed.

In Great Britain researchers have discovered that mesenchymal stem cells from adult bone marrow can effectively regenerate spinal discs. Not a single human embryo was killed.

Human embryonic stem cell research is all hype and little hope. But you know, even if it were successful and even if killing human embryonic children produced miraculous cures, it is always immoral to pursue the research.

And one final note for those who get their news from the major media. The Bush Administration has never banned human embryonic stem cell research; it has permitted federal funding for such research as long as the stem cell lines were in existence prior to the pronouncement President Bush made in August of 2001. The Bush Administration has never opposed private sector funding of such research and has never condemned it in any way.

The bottom line in all this is that hype has far exceeded facts. The bogey man created by human embryonic stem cell fanatics is the individual lawmaker or activist who chooses to rely on truth and not to sacrifice one single embryonic child in the process of fulfilling false dreams or advancing fabricated claims of hope for the ill and the dying.

The agenda of the proponents of such research may never be fully understood. But there is one thing that has become crystal clear in all the mainstream media coverage: Not a single shred of factual evidence is being sought or reported.

If killing millions of innocent human persons isn't scandal enough, then American taxpayers should be outraged by human embryonic stem research because it is science fiction. We deserve better. Call your congressman or woman and tell him or her to vote no on H.R. 3.

Release issued: 10 Jan 07

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