During October 2010, a patient in the U.S. became the first person in the world to receive treatment involving human embryonic stem cells in a FDA approved study. Embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) is fraught with controversy because it involves the destruction of embryos resulting in the devastating loss of human life. ESCR has failed to be the “medical elixir” promised, but now that it has officially entered the human testing phase. Pro-Lifers must renew and refocus our efforts to fight this unethical treatment.
Little has been officially released about the patient or study. According to the Washington Post, “A patient who was partially paralyzed by a spinal cord injury had millions of embryonic stem cells injected into the site of the damage.” Only when truly reflecting on this quote, and realizing that countless unborn lives were lost in the name of this one treatment, does it become clear that ESCR is horrendously unethical.
The procedure that was conducted on the patient has only been performed in a laboratory on rats. Those conducting the “ground-breaking” procedures stipulate the patient must be injected with the cells within 14 days of initial damage to have any chance of being successful.
Medical professionals have weighed in on the experiments, voicing their concerns and uncertainties: “Without knowing more clinical detail, there's little I can say,” explained Steve Goldman, the head of the department of neurology at the University of Rochester in New York. “In more general terms…I remain concerned about the long-term safety of unpurified grafts of embryonic stem cell derivatives. Time will tell.”
Since its inception over a decade ago, ESCR has promised to produce treatments or even cures to diseases like Parkinson’s, diabetes, and spinal cord injuries. Until now there have been no treatments that use human embryonic cells, only failed trials and adverse side effects, the most serious being that embryonic stem cells may mutate into tumor cells and cause various cancers. Despite all of these warning signs, the FDA has decided to authorize this new patient study.
While the ESCR debate continues, studies have tested and proven that adult stem cells have a great success rate in healing many maladies, including spinal cord injuries. There are peer-reviewed articles in medical journals that back up the treatment of spinal cord patients with their very own adult stem cells, helping them regain sensation and even movement in their bodies. These patients have been treated outside of the United States, and many American patients have traveled to Portugal where the treatment has seen much success.
This new phase of human embryonic stem cell research is a direct assault on human life. Not only are countless unborn lives going to be lost, patients who receive these untested and experimental procedures are themselves going to be in jeopardy. The Pro-Life community needs to expose the truth and danger behind ESCR, and draw attention to viable, moral alternatives like adult stem cells. Adult stem cell treatments have shown positive outcomes in both heart tissue regeneration and spinal cord injuries during clinical trials, and most importantly they do not result in the loss of unborn life.
-This article was written by Sarah Crawford and Doug McGee.