Dueling Twins

Stem Cells

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The 'Dueling Twins'

We have to ask ourselves whether medicine is to remain a humanitarian and respected profession or a new but depersonalized science in the service of prolonging life rather than diminishing human suffering.

Elisabeth KüBler-Ross

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Point:

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Move Forward With Stem Cell Research

James Hall - From the Left

It's past time to move forward with the federal funding of stem cell research, which offers the potential of curing many diseases. Some forms of the research, like the investigation of adult stem cells, placental and placental cord stem cells, aren't controversial at all. But researchers in the field say that these kinds of stem cells aren't sufficient by themselves to do everything. They're harder to find, purify and use compared to embryonic cells, and more difficult to turn into the variety of different cells that may be required to form the cures for many kinds of disease.

The most effective stem cells located to date have come from frozen embryos accumulating in fertility clinics. Couples choosing in vitro fertilization produce multiple embryos and often have extra embryos left after the treatments have concluded. Some of these embryos are donated to other couples, but many are disposed of. With the permission of the couples who produced them, researchers can take these embryos and harvest the stem cells from them, using them to develop a variety of cures.

Herein lies the moral quandary for many. The religious beliefs of some Americans teach the embryo to be a human being, even though it is but six to eight days from conception, a collection of forty or so cells and the size of the point of a sewing needle. The law, however, recognizes that human life begins not at conception, but at viability--that is, the point at which the fetus is ready or nearly ready to be born and live separately from its mother. Our law, civil and moral traditions recognize birth as the initial event of personhood, not conception. Indeed, gynecologists estimate that only about 25% of naturally conceived embryos ever come to term as human beings. The other 75% of embryos naturally fail to attach or grow to term in the womb.

To avoid moral conflict, we can act to ensure that those who believe that human life begins at conception retain control over any embryos they produce. Most laws governing in vitro fertilization already give the donating couples that control. But acting to prevent other couples from donating their embryos to medical research has ethical problems of its own. Those who challenge the ethics of embryonic research must themselves answer the charge that delaying this research extends the death and suffering of millions of fully formed adults and children suffering from curable diseases.

This argument was obviously compelling to President Bush, who did his best to straddle the fence by giving each side some of what it wanted. He opened the door to embryonic stem cell research but limited it to stem cell lines from embryos already destroyed. Whether this will be enough to complete research is problematic, but it is enough to begin funding the research. The reality is that now that President Bush has opened this door, it will be impossible to close.

Bush's compromise has split the heretofore monolithic right to life movement, with some declaring that any fertilized egg is a person, while others say that it must be a fertilized egg growing in a mother's womb, thus excluding frozen embryos in test-tubes. The split also divides the pragmatists from the purists. Pragmatic lifers acknowledge that the damage to the existing cell lines has already been done, and good can come from it; while purists refuse any fruit from a 'poisoned tree.'

While the Right continues its argument over the Bush Compromise, the rest of us can move forward with this valuable form of research. Congress can and should enact legislation that will make it possible for couples to voluntarily donate frozen embryos that would otherwise be destroyed to stem cell research, and let those whose religious beliefs are different withhold their embryos for themselves or for adoption to other couples. To do otherwise, to continue to throw up roadblocks to beneficial embryo stem cell research, would itself be immoral.

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Rebuttal:

Mr. Sartre and much of the Right has built an arguments on adult stem cells (which, by the way, I did mention as a promising line of stem cell research) being the better way to proceed with stem cell research. As much as I'd love to credit Sartre's reference to an article written by pro-life Sacristan (Church Sexton) and political columnist Phil Brennan and Hudson Institute science writer Fumento, when I got to the actual scientific proof (always important in an argument based on science) they used, I discovered that they build their entire argument on stem cell research done on rats and the comments of one (just one) scientist studying human adult stem cells in fat, who thinks that his human adult stem cells might be as useful as embryonic cells in healing disease, but has no proof of this. That's building an argument on sand, indeed.

If adult stem research were indeed so promising, wouldn't President Bush have eagerly supported that already-funded form of research instead of risking his standing in the pro-life community by supporting embryonic stem cell research? After all, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) spent $256 million dollars on adult stem cell research last year. But the NIH also supports embryonic stem cell research and obviously persuaded President Bush to do the same.

Here's why. Unlike adult stem cells, embryonic stem cells have "pluripotentiality," that is, the ability to develop into any kind of organ cell, while human adult stem cells have a more limited adaptability called "multipotentiality." While adult rat stem cells have shown an ability to turn into multiple organs, human adult stem cells haven't shown the same abilities. According to researchers at NIH, human adult stem cells are more difficult to isolate and grow than embryonic cells, and no adult stem cells have yet been discovered for organs like the heart and pancreas. See the NIH's "Stem Cell Primer," http://www.nih.gov/news/stemcell/primer.htm

While giving credit for advances made with adult stem cells, President Bush acknowledged the unique promise that embryonic stem cells hold in his August 9 speech when he said: "However, most scientists, at least today, believe that research on embryonic stem cells offers the most promise because these cells have the potential to develop in all of the tissues of the body." (Text, Bush speech.) The White House, despite its pro-life leanings, stands squarely on the side of doing embryonic stem cell research. http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/08/20010810.html Shouldn't you?

James Hall, From the Left

Counterpoint:

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Stems With Exposed Inert Ends

For anyone who has doubted why the other twin is referred to as the 'bad seed', no further explanation is necessary. His inability to perceive facts, to willingly ignore substance and formulate intelligent thinking, is inexplicably exposed and evident to all. No wonder society is doomed with such cognitionally challenged chaps, spewing self serving emotional appeals, while refusing to understand the real issues about tissues. Could it be that they know that they are the prime recipients for brain cell regeneration therapy?

For the purpose of simplicity, and the desire for the feeble minded to 'get it', here are the facts. This is not as complicated as the media portrays it to be, or as gray an area as the apologists rationalize and base their support for the Bush decision.

It is an unmitigated LIE to continue to repeat that Science, (translated: inquiry concluded, for the 'true believer'), has agreed that embryonic stem cells are the BEST source for tissue-regeneration research. The argument for the proponents of Federal involvement rest totally upon this false premise. "Simply put there are many sources for stem cells and they are just as effective as those harvested from living human embryos - a fact either ignored by the kill-the-embryos crowd or unknown to them. They are found throughout the body, Fumento reveals, and scientists are converting them into an incredible array of mature cells with the ability to combat a vast number of devastating diseases and injuries." This conclusion from the Phil Brennan essay:

STEM CELL RESEARCH - FACTS VS. MYTHS:

Read and learn before you purveyors of deception embarrass yourselves any more. Just explain what happened to those malicious promises of fetal tissue miracles? Another triumph for your 'god' Science? It was just a mere five years ago when we heard these lies spoken as unassailable objective empirical science. So what went wrong with your high priests of technology?

This debate is all about the MONEY, and the expansion of spending public funds on medical research where respect for life will lose its preeminence. So convenient to disregard that the very research you seek to have the public treasury fund, is now being conducted by private medical institutes. Federal grants have been increased dramatically for basic research, so why not fund those projects that have equal promise for regeneration research, while maintaining the medical creed 'Do No Harm' ? At the core of your argument is a refutation of Judo-Christian teaching that maltreatment to the one, can't be justified for the benefit of others. Eradication of life, in all its forms and stages of life, out of a plea to improve society, is as evil as any genocide inflicted upon our humanity.

Especially, when this entire tragic course can be avoided without damaging the prospects for expanding the healing skills. We will leave for another time if, this 'so called' advancement is real progress, but for this issue; the jury should speak with a uniformed voice. But your kind have adopted the depraved ethics and mores, which accepts that government and the public will has the 'just right' to take another life, based upon the ability to forcibly impose those immoral values. Nothing could be further from acting morally, and all the expression of emotions cannot nor will not avoid the reality that you are willing to accept unjust murder as state policy. Bush is wrong with his decision. Federal funds will be broadened to even more suspect medical practices. The likes of Ted Kennedy and Arlan Spector are both calling for an enlarged role for embryonic stem cell annihilation. Both share the same devotion to sacrifice other life to further their grip over the rest of us. Mentally deranged humanists interchange pragmatism with debauchery. Both are not equivalent, any more than killing one to benefit another. The problem with the 'black sheep' is that he is comfortable acting like the animal Dolly, and sees no reason to respect the life of the unborn, as long as he chews the grass that feeds his self-seeking appetites. In the end, his values produce an excretion that has a worse stench to the bull than the odor of the crap. Good company for 'backstroke Ed' and 'magic bullet'. What will be your next topic - INFANTICIDE is good for society?

James Hall - aka SARTRE

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Final Word:

You are incapable of getting it! It is all about respect for Life, and using only moral means to achieve medical research. Your underlying premise is that potential cures for the infirm, justify the conscious destruction of another life. Yes, Life begins with conception and the embryo is the result of the fertilization. Life has begun, but you ignore this fact of nature. Can anyone now doubt the slippery slope that society has embarked when man turns his back on God's gift, and seeks to play the divine in the lab?

Your own examples state: "While adult stem cells hold real promise, there are some significant limitations to what we may or may not be able to accomplish with them", concede that adult stem cell research has NOT ruled out the potential to achieve medical cures. So why not conduct the inquiry where no moral conflict exists. Well the answer is clear to those who have the integrity to face the facts. Your reliance on government press releases is telling. Proponents of embryonic stem cell research want the Federal Money. Most of these august scientists worship the god of technology, and aspire to be creators of Life, while rejecting the Creator of all life. So where do you stand on Life? Abortion must be acceptable to people like you . . .

Rejecting the likes of Messrs. Brennan and Fumento only illustrates the selective nature of the distorted and inaccurate conclusion you present. Since Phil is an old man, and especially a devoted advocate for Life, will your next polemic position be he has outlived his usefulness? Since Life has 'relative' meaning to your kind, what prevents your selective application upon those you and your, arbitrary government, deem nonessential?

The reality is that science does not know the full potential of adult stem cells. To conclude that adult stem cells are unable to fulfill the requirements for cures is disingenuous. Accepting the immoral methods of your humanist allies is not justified by the objectives that may result. But you are a government man and you are here to help; help destroy the sanctity of Life whenever the opportunity can be orchestrated. If you were serious in the improvement of the human condition your breed would refuse to procreate, for your ilk are a more deadly curse of humanity than any disease . . .

James Hall - 'The Right'


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Research is subordinated (not to a long-term social benefit) but to an immediate commercial profit. Currently, disease (not health) is one of the major sources of profit for the pharmaceutical industry, and the doctors are willing agents of those profits.
Walter Modell

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