Stem Cell Pressure Builds on Bush
The early-stage human embryos in question are frozen and
"left over" from in vitro fertilization efforts. They would otherwise
But the Catholic Church and many pro-life advocates are morally
opposed to any government involvement in embryonic stem cell research,
contending that the research requires destroying human life. Sen. Sam Brownback
(R- Kan.) said, "We simply do not need to do any research which relies on
the destruction of human beings."
By contrast, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) said that he believes
that life begins in the mother's womb. But Catholic leaders insist that it
commences upon the union of the male sperm and female egg.
A House hearing Tuesday featured testimony that opposed funding
for the embryonic research from a couple who had adopted frozen embryos that
ultimately were born as twins.
Brownback and others opposed to the embryonic research say that
adult stem cells are the only ethically acceptable scientific avenue.
But the NIH report noted that adult stem cells are rare and
that there is no evidence that they can develop into any other type of cell
like embryonic stem cells can.
It's still uncertain how President Bush will decide on federal
funding for the embryonic research.
Bush, who plans to meet with the Pope in Rome later this month,
said this week that "the leaders of the Catholic Church ... stand strong on
the principle of life. They also stand strong on making sure that those who
have no voice are heard."
Earlier this year, Bush wrote to a conservative group that he
opposed federal funding for "stem cell research that involves destroying
living human embryos."
Even if embryonic stem cell research flourishes under possible
federal funding, there's no guarantee of cures for cancer, Alzheimer's,
Parkinson's, or any other of a list of diseases.
The NIH report notes that finding a cure for type 1 diabetes
may be difficult because the body's own immune system attacks and destroys its
cells. "This ... must be overcome if researchers hope to use the
transplanted cells to replace the damaged ones," it says.