Change stem-cell policy? No

“Adult stem cells have now successfully treated thousands of patients of more than 100 diseases.”

Originally published on October 17, 2004

The entire world mourns the passing of Christopher Reeve, but his search for a cure in the stem cells of human embryos crossed an obvious moral barrier.

We watched for nine years as this brave man fought to walk again. His struggle is an object lesson on how precious life is, how each of us from the moment of conception until our end, fight for one more breath, one more day in this wonderful life.

And in his life's work, Reeve sought a cure for his malady in the stem cells of other human beings. But as President Bush has said, there is an ethical question to this practice, and I strongly believe [embryonic] stem-cell research crosses an ethical barrier that scientists should acknowledge and respect.

First, embryonic-destructive research crosses moral boundaries because it violates the dignity of the human person. Each embryo marked for experimentation and death began just like we did. Like us, all they need to grow is food and protection. That they are small, out of our sight and do not yet resemble us does not mean they are any less human.

Second, embryonic stem-cell research has not produced any cures. After 20 years and millions of dollars, not a single patient has been cured of any disease or malady. Not one patient. Not one disease. Where it has been tried, patients have experienced not cures but the growth of tumors.

Third, there is another kind of stem-cell research that is even now healing patients and curing diseases. Adult stem cells are derived from cord blood, bone marrow and other morally acceptable sources. Adult stem cells have now successfully treated thousands of patients of more than 100 diseases. This summer, a young woman testified before Congress about being treated with adult stem cells for quadriplegia, Reeve's affliction. She is now walking with a walker, an amazing success for adult stem cells. And there are many more.

History shows the grotesqueries that can happen when medicine becomes unhinged from ethics. This is why the Hippocratic Oath admonishes doctors, "First do no harm." We may never harm others for our own benefit. Embryonic-destructive research must be resisted.

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Like pro-abortion activists, the media in general don't want to hear about use of ASCs (adult stem cells) to cure paralysis, or about ASCs at all. In fact, they frequently attribute ASC breakthroughs to ESCs (embryonic stem cells).

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