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HUMAN STEM CELL RESEARCH

Media reports, 2001-JULY to AUG.

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bulletWeek of 2001-JUL-2: USA: Republican leaders call for ban: Majority Leader Dick Armey, Whip Tom DeLay and faith-based initiative booster J.C.  Watts called upon Mr. Bush to ban all funding for any stem cell research. Their letter said, in part: "It is not pro-life to rely on an industry of death, even if the intention is to find cures for diseases."
bullet2001-JUL-5: USA: Republicans split on issue: A group of 60 moderate and pro-choice House Republicans sent a letter to the President asking him to fund embryonic stem cell research. This was in response to an earlier letter by House Republican leaders (Tom DeLay, Dick Armey, and J.C. Watts) which opposed research. 1
bullet2001-JUL-11: USA: Researchers create embryos to extract stem cells: . The Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Norfolk, VA issued a press release stating that they had paid 12 women between $1,500 and $2,000 to extract their a total of 162 eggs. 110 were fertilized to produce embryos so that they could then extract their stem cells. They first obtained the permission of the women before proceeding. They believe that the 40 newly created embryos may be more desirable for their research programs than readily-available embryos thawed out from liquid nitrogen storage.
bullet2001-JUL-11: USA: Focus on the Family condemns stem cell research: Focus on the Family is a very influential Fundamentalist Christian organization centered in Colorado Springs, CO. Their outreach director, Dr. Walt Larimore, appeared on their radio program. He said that stem cell research is immoral, illegal and unnecessary. Host of the program, Dr. James Dobson, said: "We're talking about life here. We're not talking about little black dots, like some people in Congress are referring to them."
bullet2001-JUL-17: USA: United Church of Christ synod approves of stem cell funding: Delegates to General Synod 23 of the UCC in Kansas City, MO, urged President Bush to fund embryonic stem cell research. The resolution calls on research to be conducted with "concern for justice, privacy and access to the benefits of the research for all." 14
bullet2001-JUL-23: Vatican: Pope condemns embryonic stem cell research: President Bush met the Pope in a private meeting. In a later public speech, the pope denounced "evils such as euthanasia, infanticide, and most recently, proposals for the creation for research purposes of human embryos, destined to destruction in the process....A free and virtuous society, which America aspires to be, must reject practices that devalue and violate human life at any stage from conception until natural death." 2
bullet2001-JUL-26: USA: Public opinion polls: A Washington Post - ABC News poll showed that 63% of American adults favored stem-cell research, 33% opposed and 4% were undecided. Margin of error is within 3%. African-Americans at 50% are less supportive than whites at 65%. There was little difference of opinion between Democrats and Republicans. College graduates were more supportive at 76% than were persons with high school completion or less at 56%. Persons earning over $75,000 were more supportive, at 77% than those earning less than $30,000, at 54%.
bullet2001-AUG-9: USA: President Bush allows limited stem cell funding: President Bush said the issue was "one of the most profound of our time." He decided to approve limited funding because stem cell research offered immense promise for the cure of diseases and disorders. But he said it was "important that we pay attention to the moral concerns of the new frontier." Research would be limited to what he said were 60 existing lines of stem cells that are being cultured in the lab; no new embryos would be killed in order to extract cells. President Bush said: "As I thought through this issue I kept returning to two fundamental questions. First, are these frozen embryos human life and therefore something precious to be protected? And second, if they're going to be destroyed anyway, shouldn't they be used for a greater good, for research that has the potential to save and improve other lives?" 3 A number of scientists who were interviewed expressed confusion over Bush's statement that there are 60 existing stem cell lines. They believe that there are perhaps only about a dozen lines, and that they do not have sufficient genetic diversity. Also, some are owned by private labs and are unlikely to make them available to government research programs. "Even specialists in the field had been unaware there were more than 10 or 15 lines." 4
bullet2001-AUG-13: Reaction to President Bush's announcement: Reactions were strong and plentiful. Opinions depended on whether or not the individual or group considers an embryo to be a human person. Some statements show a profound lack of knowledge the nature of embryos and stem cells. Some seem to misunderstand the President's statement:
bulletCovenant News, a conservative Christian news service, chose "Bush Okays Murder" as their headline.
bulletA Gallup Poll revealed that half of Americans approved Bush's decision; 25% disapproved and 25% are uncertain.
bulletBishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops condemned President Bush's decision: "...the trade-off he has announced is morally unacceptable: The federal government, for the first time in history, will support research that relies on the destruction of some defenseless human beings for the possible benefit to others. However such a decision is hedged about with qualifications, it allows our nation's research enterprise to cultivate a disrespect for human life...We hope and pray that President Bush will return to a principled stand against treating some human lives as nothing more than objects to be manipulated and destroyed for research purposes. As we face a new century of powerful and sometimes even frightening advances in biotechnology, we must help ensure that our technical advances will serve rather than demean our very humanity." [Bishop Fiorenza seems to be unaware that President Bush has forbidden the future manipulation and destruction of embryos.]
bulletPat Robertson congratulated the president. He said: "I believe that President Bush provided an elegant solution to the thorny issue. ...The president has balanced the profound ethical concerns of those of us who deplore the wanton destruction of the unborn with the heartfelt concerns of the population who desire legitimate, scientific research."
bulletOne of the most influential Fundamentalist pastors, Jerry Falwell, stated in his "Falwell Confidential" newsletter: "With great pressure weighing on him from those who want unlimited research on human embryos, I believe Mr. Bush adopted the only viable solution to this moral puzzle. The fact is that, while our hearts go out to those who urgently seek physical help from stem-cell research, as a follower of Christ, I simply cannot warrant the destruction of one life in order to save another."
bulletJudie Brown, president of American Life League said of President Bush: "He can no longer describe himself as pro-life."
bulletPathway Communications maintains The Nuremberg Files, a list of abortion providers and their supporters in politics, the courts and law enforcement. They have added George W. Bush's name to their list. 5
bulletWendy Wright, spokesperson the Concerned Women for America said: "The president's position contradicts the Nuremberg Code, ethical guidelines set down after World War II, which prohibits experimentation that knowingly causes injury or death to a human being. We should be horrified at the prospect of participating in research on embryos who were deliberately killed for the same reason that we are horrified that the gold fillings were taken from the teeth of Holocaust victims. The president forgot that one dimension of respect for life is respect for the remains of the dead." 6
bulletLori Cole, spokesperson for Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, said: "President Bush broke his word to the American people. Congress should immediately reinforce the 1995 law to ensure that all embryos will be protected [from] experimental research, regardless of who pays for it." [Cole seems to be unaware that the President's decision protects all existing and future embryos.]
bulletKen Connor, president of the Family Research Council hopes that most pro-lifers will eventually condemn President Bush's decision: "I suspect that over the course of [time], with greater opportunity for sober and more deliberative reflection on their part, some of these people are going to have increasing questions and a greater discomfort ... about the president's decision." 6
bulletLaura Echevarria, spokesperson for the National Right to Life Committee said: "We are delighted that President Bush' decision prevents the federal government from becoming a party to any further killing of human embryos for medical experimentation." She is reported as saying that the demand for adoptive embryos exceeds the supply. This is confusing because there have been fewer than a dozen embryos out of the 110,000 available frozen embryos which have been adopted by parents. 7
bulletDr. James Dobson, founder and president of Focus on the Family praised Bush, saying that: "President Bush faced tremendous political pressure to betray his pro-life commitment. He has courageously upheld his promise to protect unborn children. He deserves praise from citizens who understand that it is never justified to destroy one life in order to possibly save another." 7,8 However, since early August, 2001 when he made that statement, Focus on the Family seems to have reversed its stance and brought its thinking in line with other Fundamentalist groups. On OCT-14, Carrie Gordon Earll, a biomedical ethicist at Focus is quoted as saying: "We're opposed to embryonic stem cell research, and that's an essential clarification in all of this." 9
bulletJudie Brown, president of American Life League, said: "Countless millions of real human persons will lose their lives as a direct consequence of President Bush's decision to authorize federal funding for stem cell research." [It is unclear what she means by this statement. The President's decision forbids any additional extraction of stem cells from embryos. So no embryos will lose their lives]
bulletWendy Wright of Concerned Women for America commented: "The President has embraced the hair-splitting logic of the previous Administration in pretending that it is wrong to conduct experiments on someone you have killed yourself, but right to do so on someone who has been killed by another. The critical moral question is not who killed the victim, but rather shall we profit from that killing?"
bulletGary Bauer, a former pro-life Presidential candidate predicted: "You're already opening up Pandora's box here. Let's say that we find that the research does help in some way to cure a particular disease. Then we're going to have demands for hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of human embryo tissues which will in fact result in the destruction of human life." [He overlooks the ability of stem cells to grow in the laboratory].
bulletBill Koenig, author of Koenig's International News commented that President Bush's stem cell decision induced a response by God in the form of an earthquake 19 hours later in Northern California, and a warning from NOAA's National Hurricane Center of an increase in their prediction of the number of tropical storms to hit the U.S. during the current tropical storm season. Koenig's news reports often link American responses to the Israeli-Palestinian war, granting of equal rights to gays and lesbians, abortion access developments and stem cell research to natural disasters. 10 He later interpreted the 2001-SEP-11 terrorist attack on World Trade Towers and the Pentagon as God's response to the U.S. support of a peace settlement between Israel and the PLO.
bullet2001-AUG-16: PA: Embryonic stem cell research approved: Governor Tom Ridge (R) has approved stem cell research in the state, as long as the embryos from which the stem cells were extracted come from another state. An existing law of 1989 prohibits embryos from being destroyed for medical research in the state.
bullet2001-AUG-21: Pro-life / Anti-Bush editorial: Joseph Farah heads up www.WorldNetDaily.com In his daily column, "This way, Dr. Mengele," he wrote: "What Bush's decision did was establish that the U.S. government will support experimentation on living human tissue. He may think he imposed limits on such experimentation, but, in reality, he opened the door to unlimited, unrestricted, wholesale research on living human tissue....Only those who believe they have a right to play God and decide that some human life is more valuable than other human life could come to such a conclusion....another holocaust is not only a good possibility in such an environment, it's practically an inevitability.
bullet2001-AUG-22: More pro-life, anti-Bush articles: All of the writers accept, but do not justify, a belief that pre-embryos are human persons:
bulletCal Thomas commented that President Bush "has established -- morally, politically and ethically -- the principle that it is permissible to experiment on a living component of the human race, even for the presumed benefit of other members of the human race....Courts have long held that to allow government to benefit from a wrongful act provides an unhealthy incentive to persist in such acts.''
bulletAlan Keyes wrote for the Declaration Foundation: " From now on, this government will encourage research that is only possible if human lives are, or have been, intentionally destroyed. Even if, as most Americans, including the President, believe, the killing of embryos is morally wrong, the policy means that it is a kind of good fortune, a 'windfall,' that some have already been killed for the sake of using their parts, and we may, without moral peril, invite the research community to see what use can be made of their remains. But there would be no such parts if those who killed human beings to use them as lab fodder thought there would be sanctions against this barbarism...Even if there are benefits from killing the innocent, we don't have the right to derive those benefits at the expense of human dignity. It is as simple as that."
bulletChristopher Linstrom, MD, wrote in the American Medical News: "Do we now purposefully create a secondary class of the "unwanted" (embryos, fetuses, abortuses, neonates, etc.) for the use of medical research? I find this morally and ethically reprehensible for the same reason I find elective abortion, infanticide and capital punishment unacceptable. It undermines the basic value of each and every person to have his or her own life held as inviolable from the time of conception until natural death."
bullet2001-AUG-22: Christian poll shows support for Bush's decision: Best of the Christian Web (BOTW) at http://www.botcw.com is a conservative Christian web site. They are holding a public opinion poll on President Bush's decision. They write that "Some say this is a positive move to protect embryos. Others say that any use of embryonic stem cells is wrong." They asked: "Did President Bush make the right decision in allowing limited research on stem cells?" Results as of 2001-AUG-22 at 1:20 PM ET were: Yes 52;  No 35. Unfortunately, the "no" votes will include those who felt that his decision is too restrictive and those who felt that it is too liberal. This happens from time to time in public opinion polls.
bullet2001-AUG-23: Stem cell lines may all be unusable: The Washington Post reported that: "The human embryonic stem cell lines reported in scientific literature were all grown in direct contact with mouse cells and might have picked up mouse viruses." This may well preclude their use in clinical trials on humans. Meanwhile, according to the President's policy, no new stem cell lines can be created for government lab research.
bulletKevin Ryder is a consultant to the American Cell Therapy Research Foundation, a group that supports research into cell research. "This would be the exclamation point on an already lengthy list of questions about the quantity and quality of the cell lines eligible for research funding under the Bush policy. We would have a very difficult time getting those advanced into the clinical setting unless we get the FDA to make some exceptions down the road."
bulletSen. John F. Kerry (D-MA) said: "The president's going to have to make available lines of stem cells that will be available for the full measure of research anticipated," said  "If he doesn't, Congress will need to act to make that happen."
bulletWhite House advisor, Jay Lefkowitz, said that the president was aware of the problem. However, he felt that it was not a serious problem. By the time that clinical trials are needed, he felt that scientiests could grow stem cells without mouse cells, or will be able to work within the FDA guidelines. [Editor's note: With all of the stem cell lines produced before 2001-AUG-9 unusable because of the presence of mouse cells, and with all of the stem cell lines produced after that date unusable because of presidential decree, it is difficult to see how new, safe stem cell lines can be created.]
bullet2001-AUG-27: National Institutes of Health release stem cell info: "The National Institutes of Health tallied 64 cell lines from 'genetically diverse' embryos. Each was derived from excess embryos created to help couples have children. Each was voluntarily donated before the Aug. 9 date designated by Bush." 11 However, they are only of limited usefulness, and are only a stop-gap solution.
bullet2001-AUG-26: Alan Keyes criticized President Bush: Former GOP presidential candidate Alan Keyes attacked President Bush's decision on stem cells. As keynote speaker at a conference sponsored by the National Federation of Republican Assemblies and the Leadership Institute, Keyes said: "I cannot support leadership that sits in the backroom trying to figure out how much harm can be done without opposition." He said that Bush's decision was more damaging than anything that Bill Clinton, often called the villain of the right, could have done. "The evil that you know, the evil that inspires you to fight again is not the worst evil," Keyes said. "The worst evil creeps behind your lines and dominates your leadership." He said that abortion rights supporters: "...will come back and say it's hypocritical to not support abortion but to support stem cell research." 12 A Georgian delegate to the conference, Carolyn Cosby, said the president is a disappointment to the conservative movement. She said "He's a traitor to the conservatives who elected him, and the stem cell research is just one example of a litany of public policy moves he has made that are betraying the conservative agenda in this country." Referring to Alan Keyes, she added: "We need conservative voices to rise and challenge a president who is acting like a traitor to those he promised to represent."
bullet2001-AUG-29: Australian researchers harvest stem cells: Professor Robert Jansen, medical director of Sydney IVF, revealed that he had extracted stem cells from fewer than ten spare embryos donated for research. His team was unable to get a self-replicating colony yet, "but we think we're pretty close." They intend to do research into a cure or treatment for Type 1 diabetes -- the form of diabetes that typically affects young persons, and often leads to blindness, heart disease, kidney disease and the need for amputations later in life. The research was approved by the clinic's independent ethics review committee and was conducted within the 1996 guidelines of the Australian Health Ethics Committee. A ten person Australian parliamentary committee is expected to vote 6 to 4 in favor of permitting such experimentation next month. 13

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Continue with media reports from 2001-SEPT.

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Related essays on this web site:

Cloning and stem cell research are unrelated lines of research. However, they both start with an ovum and initially use some of the same techniques.

bulletWhen does human personhood begin?
bulletHuman cloning
bulletPre-implantation genetic diagnosis
bulletTherapeutic cloning

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References used in the above essay:

  1. William Walker, "Party moderates urge Bush to support stem cell study," Toronto Star, 2001-JUL-6.
  2. "Pope again advising Bush, calls for stem cell research ban," AANEWS, 2001-JUL-23.
  3. Scott Lindlaw, "Bush allows some stem cell funding," Associated Press, 2001-AUG-9, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  4. Rick Weiss, "Stem cell policy eased by Bush decision," Washington Post, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/
  5. The Nuremberg Files, at: http://www.bestchoice.com/atrocity/aborts.html#bush
  6. Christine Hall, "Bush broke stem cell pledge, say some pro-lifers," Crosswalk.com, at: http://news.crosswalk.com/partner/
  7. Scott Hogenson & Michael Betsch, "Mixed pro-life response to Bush stem cell decision," CNS News, at: http://news.crosswalk.com/partner/
  8. "Dr. James C. Dobson applauds Bush decision on stem cell research," Focus on the Family, at: http://fotf.org/cforum/newsrlse/a0017185.html
  9. Janice Crompton, "A View from the Experts: Pro-lifers say embryo cells not essential; AMA disagrees," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette® at: http://www.post-gazette.com
  10. Bill Koenig, "Koenig's International News," 2001-AUG-13.
  11. "Green light on stem cells," USAToday, at: http://www.usatoday.com/news/comment/
  12. Ben Tinsley, "Keys assails Bush's stem cell decision," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, at: http://www.declaration.net/news.asp
  13. Deborah Smith & Mark Metherell, "Embryo stem cell research bombshell," SMH.com.au at: http://www.smh.com.au/news/
  14. Tim Kershner, "Synod OKs federally-funded embryonic stem cell research," United Church News, at: http://www.ucc.org/ucnews/gsa01/

Copyright © 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2002-JUL-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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