Embryonic stem-Cell Research Will Only Add to Myriad Societal Ills

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Millions are suffering. People such as Michael J. Fox, MuhammadAli, Pope John Paul II and Christopher Reeve are suffering fromdegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or spinal cordinjuries. Millions are suffering, even while advocates of embryonicstem cell research purport themselves to have possible cures for allthis. But it requires research that would involve the willfulannihilation of millions of embryos – millions of lives attheir most indefensible stage.

Embryonic stem-cell research is not a proven venue for providing apanacea to many of the world’s afflictions, and frankly it isdisingenuous for those who are suffering to place too much hope init. The scientific evidence suggesting embryonic stem cell researchhas a greater viable treatment potential for a plethora of diseasesthan non-embryonic stem-cell research is limited at best. In allactuality, embryonic stem-cell research applicable to humans couldeventually prove to be a dead end. Lanza and Nadia Rosenthal, Britishstem cell researchers at the very forefront of the issue, found”embryonic stem cells pose the problem of spontaneouslydifferentiating into a hodgepodge of tissue types.” Embryos alsocarry the “likelihood of immune rejection in humans” and presentinfinitely more danger than would a traditional organ transplant.

Adult stem cells, however, are less likely to be a scientific deadend. As reported in Scientific American, Catherine Verfaillie of theUniversity of Minnesota Stem Cell Institute found adult stem cells”derived from bone marrow and dubbed a multi-potent adult progenitorcell (MAPC) can differentiate into nearly all types of mouse tissue”and are not “fusing with cells already present in the body.” Anotherpromising venue – as reported in The New York Times -is currently being explored at the Tufts New England Medical Centerin Boston, where Dr. Bianchi found fetal cells remain in a woman’sbody after a pregnancy and can, after organ damage, “migrate there,divide and turn into the needed cell type.”

The American people have suffered at the hands of a partisandebate concerning stem-cell research. Thankfully, President Bush wasable to find an important compromise in limiting embryonic stem-cellresearch to existing cell lines, and to strongly support adultstem-cell research “by providing $190.7 million for humannon-embryonic stem cells” in the 2003 fiscal year, according to theU.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In the second half of the nineteenth century slavery and polygamyexisted in the United Sates – what Robert P. George andWilliam L. Saunders dubbed the “twin relics of barbarism.” Theyfurther go on to mention that it was the Republican Party thatemerged to take on these “two great moral struggles.” In their courseto eradicate these evils, “Pro-slavery Democrats condemned them asfanatics and zealots,” and yet, they prevailed. Today, George andSaunders believe a modern union of barbarism has reared its uglyhead, among them, “abortion and embryo-destructive research.” TheRepublican Party, amidst renewed contemptuous calls of religiousfundamentalism, must again engage in a campaign to defeat moralevils.

We cannot wantonly engage in the destruction of innocent life atany stage, especially in the earliest ones, for sheer scientificcuriosity. Is it looking at scientific discoveries with fear, as Sen.John Kerry accuses President Bush of doing? No. Is it placingideology before science? Perhaps. But by placing science before anideology based on ethics and giving scientists free reign to conductany research, we veer dangerously close to becoming passiveparticipants in a massive genocide conducted by well-intentioned- but misguided – Joseph Mengeles.

According to Dr. John Shea, a retired radiologist and ethicistfrom Toronto: “If we decide that there are certain classes of humanbeings which can be used like a product for some other good reasoneven, then we send a sign: We’ve gone right back to Nuremberg.People’s rights don’t come from the government.” In this country, theDeclaration of Independence made it clear that “all Men are createdequal … endowed by their Creator with certain unalienableRights,” first among which is life.

If we continue to degrade life in all of its forms and pursue aculture of death, we risk losing the very essence of our humanity. Inthe end, would it be worth it? “For what is a man profited, if heshall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall aman give in exchange for his soul?” (Mt. 16:26). The life of onehuman being is never and can never be more valuable than that ofanother.

– Paul A. Escajadillo is a political science senior and a seniorstaff writer for The Daily Aztec.

– This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of TheDaily Aztec. Send e-mail to letters@thedailyaztec.com.Anonymous letters will not be printed – include your fullname, major and year in school.