Sanctity of Life

Sanc·ti·ty of Life: the principle of implied protection regarding aspects of sentient life which are said to be holy, sanctified, or otherwise of such value that they are not to be violated, based on the belief that all human beings are created in God’s image. Posts in this category pertain to abortion, human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and other issues pertaining to the advancement of the culture of life and to the respect and protection of the sanctity of life.

More Stem Cell Initiative Misinformation

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Missouri, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

Several news outlets are reporting on the Missouri Stem Cell Initiative (the Initiative); unfortnately, most are getting the facts entirely incorrect. First up is this wildly innacurate statment found in a report from KMBC-TV 9 in Kansas City, MO [emphasis added]:

Talent had come under pressure from McCaskill to take a position on the proposed constitutional amendment. The measure specifically bans human cloning, but would permit all federally allowed stem cell research in the state.

The issue has created a rift among Missouri Republicans. Business and medical leaders strongly support the measure while religious and anti-abortion leaders have campaigned against it, saying the procedure amounts to human cloning.

First, the Initiative does not specifically ban human cloning; it specifically allows human cloning, and specifically prohibits the state legislature from prohibiting human cloning. The initiative intentionally re-defines "cloning" in a manner inconsistent with any biological, scientific, or other reasonable understanding or definition of the term. From the text of the Initiative:

38(d).6.(2) “Clone or attempt to clone a human being” means to implant in a uterus or attempt to implant in a uterus anything other than the product of fertilization of an egg of a human female by a sperm of a human male for the purpose of initiating a pregnancy that could result in the creation of a human fetus, or the birth of a human being.

For reference and clarification, below are several actual, accepted definitions of "cloning".

From Wikipedia:

Cloning is the process of creating an identical copy of an original. A clone in the biological sense, therefore, is a single cell (like bacteria, lymphocytes etc.) or multi-cellular organism that is genetically identical to another living organism. Sometimes this can refer to "natural" clones made either when an organism reproduces asexually or when two genetically identical individuals are produced by accident (as with identical twins), but in common parlance the clone is an identical copy by some conscious design.

From How Stuff Works:

Cloning is the process of making a genetically identical organism through nonsexual means.

From the Roslin Institute:

Depending on the age of the dictionary, the definition of biological cloning can be:

  • A group of genetically identical individuals descended from the same parent by asexual reproduction. Many plants show this by producing suckers, tubers or bulbs to colonise the area around the parent.
  • A group of genetically identical cells produced by mitotic division from an original cell. This is where the cell creates anew set of chromosomes and splits into two daughter cells. This is how replacement cells are produced in your body when the old ones wear out.
  • A group of DNA molecules produced from an original length of DNA sequences produced by a bacterium or a virus using molecular biology techniques. This is what is often called molecular cloning or DNA cloning
  • The production of genetically identical animals by 'embryo splitting'. This can occur naturally at the two cell stage to give identical twins. In cattle, when individual cells from 4- and 8-cell embryos and implanted in different foster mothers, they can develop normally into calves and this technique has been used routinely within cattle breeding schemes for over 10 years.
  • The creation of one or more genetically identical animals by transferring the nucleus of a body cell into an egg from which the nucleus has been removed. This is also known as Nuclear Transfer (NT) or cell nuclear replacement (CNR) and is how Dolly was produced.

From the National Acadamies:

Clone - 1) An exact genetic replica of a DNA molecule, cell, tissue, organ, or entire plant or animal. 2) An organism that has the same nuclear genome as another organism.

Cloning - The production of a clone. (For the purpose of this report, generating an individual animal or person that derives its nuclear genes from a diploid cell taken from an embryo, fetus, or born individual of the same species.)

From the National Institute of Health:

In biology, a clone is a cell or an organism that is genetically identical to another cell or organism... The verb "to clone" refers to the process of creating cloned cells or organisms. The process differs, depending on the kinds of cells used in the cloning procedure and the desired result. Usually, when scientists clone an animal, they take the nucleus of a cell -- which contains chromosomes made of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and proteins -- and place it into an egg cell (also called an oocyte) from which the nucleus has been removed. The egg cell then divides to produce an embryo that develops into an animal, if the procedures work as planned.

Now that we're clear on the actual definition of "cloning", we return to the wording of the Initiative, which far from specifically prohibiting human cloning, specifically prohibits the legislature from prohibiting human cloning, or research derived from human cloning [emphasis added]:

38(d).2.(7) All stem cell research and all stem cell therapies and cures must be conducted and provided in accordance with state and local laws of general applicability, including but not limited to laws concerning scientific and medical practices and patient safety and privacy, to the extent that any such laws do not (i) prevent, restrict, obstruct, or discourage any stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures that are permitted by the provisions of this section other than this subdivision (7) to be conducted or provided, or (ii) create disincentives for any person to engage in or otherwise associate with such research or therapies and cures.

This inconsistency is not an honest oversight; it is an intentional attempt to mislead Missourians into constitutionally mandating that which they believe themselves to be constitutionally prohibiting. The justfication? What amounts to what the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures (the Coalition) describes as a sort of "common-law" understanding of "cloning" as meaning implanting a cloned embryo in the uterus and bringing to full-term the cloned baby.

I also just found this wildly incorrect statement on the Initiative's ironically titled "Setting The Record Straight" section:

Opponents of stem cell research claim that making stem cells in a lab dish is the same thing as "human cloning." Scientists and most other people disagree with that view and understand that "human cloning" means creating a duplicate human being - not making stem cells in a lab dish.

Supporters of the Initiative know full-well that stem cells cannot just be "[made] in a lab dish", and that the only way to derive stem cells is to harvest them from a human embryo - whether that embryo be sexually produced, or cloned.

Complicit in this deception, Claire MacCaskill is demonstrating her political opportunism with respect to the Initiative [emphasis added]:

"I don't think you can have the luxury of calling an issue personal or political just to muddy the waters when a tough issue comes along," McCaskill said Tuesday.

"To me this isn't that complicated," she said. "I support this research, I have consistently and enthusiastically, and I urge Missourians to do the same."

"Life does not begin in a petri dish. Life begins in a womb," McCaskill told KMBC.

This statement is so very wrong on so many levels. I hate to break it to you, Claire, but life can and does begin in a petri dish. Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT), the process by which embryonic stem cell (ESC) research proponents hope to use to harvest ESCs, is the same process by which Dolly the Sheep was cloned (as every single cloning definition reference listed above indicates).

Here is a good opportunity to point out that, once again, the Coalition's "Setting The Record Straight" gives intentionally incorrect information, in this case, regarding SCNT:

The two basic sources of ES cells are: (1) leftover fertility clinic embryos that will not be implanted in a woman's uterus and would otherwise be discarded and destroyed; and (2) the Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) process, which uses stem cells made in a lab dish with a patient's own cells and an unfertilized, donated human egg.

Again, the only way to derive embryonic stem cells is by harvesting them from an embryo - and the Coaltion knows it.

The result of SCNT is a zygote genetically identical to the somatic-cell donor.That the genesis of this zygote was asexual rather than sexual does not negate that, genetically and biologically, a zygote resulting from cloning a human somatic cell is, in fact, a human zygote. This human zygote - again, whether sexually or asexually produced - will, of its own volition, begin the process of mitosis, and will self-direct its development through the various stages from embryo to adult human. This self-volition of growth and self-direction of development is, essentially, the biologically accepted definition of "life".

From Wikipedia:

While there is no universal agreement on the definition of life, scientists generally accept that the biological manifestation of life exhibits the following phenomena:

  1. Organization - Living things are comprised of one or more cells, which are the basic units of life.
  2. Metabolism - Metabolism produces energy by converting nonliving material into cellular components (synthesis) and decomposing organic matter (catalysis). Living things require energy to maintain internal organization (homeostasis) and to produce the other phenomena associated with life.
  3. Growth - Growth results from a higher rate of synthesis than catalysis. A growing organism increases in size in all of its parts, rather than simply accumulating matter.
  4. Adaptation - Adaptation is the accommodation of a living organism to its environment. It is fundamental to the process of evolution and is determined by the individual's heredity.
  5. Response to stimuli - A response can take many forms, from the contraction of a unicellular organism when touched to complex reactions involving all the senses of higher animals. A response is often expressed by motion: the leaves of a plant turning toward the sun or an animal chasing its prey.
  6. Reproduction - The division of one cell to form two new cells is reproduction. Usually the term is applied to the production of a new individual (either asexually, from a single parent organism, or sexually, from two differing parent organisms), although strictly speaking it also describes the production of new cells in the process of growth.

    From Developmental Biology Online:

    The genetic view takes the position that the creation of a genetically unique individual is the moment at which life begins. This event is often described as taking place at fertilization, thus fertilization marks the beginning of human life. During this developmental event, the genes originating from two sources combine to form a single individual with a different and unique set of genes. One of the most popular arguments for fertilization as the beginning of human life is that at fertilization a new combination of genetic material is created for the first time; thus, the zygote is an individual, unique from all others.

    Back to MacCaskill's egregiously erroneous statement, now addressing her assertion that life begins in the womb: again, MacCaskill, if biology is too difficult for you to grasp, perhaps you need to stick to politics. Life begins at conception; no credible biologist will refute this fact. (To be perfectly clear: for sexual reproduction, a new life emerges the moment the haploid sperm and egg conceive, resulting in a new, unique, diploid cell - called a zygote. For either a sexually or an asexually produced zygote, life is evidenced at the first cell mitosis.) By the time the embryo reaches the womb, it has long-since established itself as a unique, individual life form.

    To be fair, I must once again disagree with Senator Talent, and challenge the assertion that Altered Nuclear Transfer (ANT) is not "cloning":

    Earlier this year, Talent withdrew as a co-sponsor of a Senate bill that would ban all embryonic stem cell research and impose a $1 million fine and jail sentence on violators. At the time, Talent said he backed another form of research -- called altered nuclear transfer -- that would not result in human cloning.

    The only difference between SCNT and ANT is that, with ANT, the somatic cell is altered such that certain gene expression, required for the embryo to develop past the blastocyst stage (the stage at which ESCs are harvested, destroying the embryo), is disabled/prohibited. Genetically, the somatic cell is still human. Genetically, the result from the ANT process is still a human embryo. Claiming that ANT does not produce a human simply because the embryo has been genetically altered to prevent its development past the blastocyst stage is analogous to claiming that genetically or hormonally preventing a child from developing through/past the adolescence stage renders that child non-human.

    The evidence that ANT results in a human embryo lies in the fact that ANT is intended as a method to harvest human ESCs. Only a human embryo can develop human ESCs. If the result of ANT were not genetically human, it would not develop human ESCs.

    Some use the specious argument that the result of ANT is no more living than the somatic cell used to produce it. Recall the definition of life: self-volition of growth, and self-direction of development. A somatic cell neither attempts to grow or develop. It is no longer a living cell once it is removed from its donor. The embryo produced by ANT, however, demonstrates that it is living by both undergoing mitosis of its own volition, and directing its own development.

    However, regardless of my disagreement with Mr. Talent with respect to our understanding of ANT, I understand the consistency of his position (incorrect though it may be). For one who thinks that ANT is not cloning, it is entirely consistent to support ANT while at the same time opposing the Initiative. Likewise, withdrawing support from a blanket ban on human cloning due to the belief that such a ban would prohibit ANT - under the assumption that ANT is not cloning - does not constitute a "flip-flop" on support for banning human cloning. Perhaps this position is too subtle for MacCaskill and this negligent KMBC-TV report to grasp.

    Via John Combest.

    Politics and Ignorance Shape Journalistic Bias of Stem Cell Reporting

    Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Cloning, Missouri, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

    I had a bit of difficulty getting to the meat of this opening article of a multi-part series to appear this week in the Columbia Missourian, as the article spends several paragraphs attempting to evoke an emotional connection to the two protagonists: each disabled, and each on differing sides of the Stem Cell Initiative issue. Note: I appreciate the reporter finding equal time for both sides of the issue; however, comparing and contrasting the stories of two disabled people with respect to this issue in no way contributes to putting forth the facts surrounding the issue. Doing so only serves to appeal to emotion, and could be construed to be using their respective disabilities to "sell" the story, much as the Coalition continues to use plight of the disabled in their attempts to gain support for the Initiative.

    Anyway, I'll pick up the article at the section titled "Is Breakthrough Possible?" Several statements need parsing:

    Both Rob and Kara Clardy are hopeful that stem cell research and passage of a constitutional amendment in November will yield results both for people suffering and for the state as a whole.

    First, once again, the issue is obfuscated by using the all-encompassing "stem cell research", when what is implied is "embryonic stem cell research." The distinction is small, but significant. I will address its significance in a moment. Second, this statement alludes to embryonic stem cell (ESC) research's dirty little secret: in the end, it's all about the money. Much more on that point in the days to come.

    Embryonic stem cell research has not produced any major results for humans, but scientists are excited about an experiment that John McDonald conducted on rats.

    ...has not produced any major results for humans? How about, has not produced any results whatsoever.

    While at Washington University, McDonald studied 62 rats whose spinal cords had been severed, thereby making them incapable of using their legs. Twenty-eight of the rats were treated with somatic cell nuclear transfer, the process used in embryonic stem cell research.

    Whoops; someone needs an editor. Perhaps the rats were treated with stem cells derived from embryoes resulting from Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT), but they were in no way "treated" with SCNT, which is a cloning method, not a treatment or therapy for a disease or disability. It is this kind of journalistic sloppiness that prevents the average person from understanding the issue fully. Intentionally or unintentionally (in this case, I suspect the latter), this kind of carelessness will result in an uninformed electorate going to the Missouri ballot in November, and deciding the fate of a constitutional amendment.

    “If we have this, we could find cures for Parkinson’s and diabetes, and we have a better chance of finding those cures that might emerge in fifteen to twenty years,” Neaves said. “We should declare once and for all that if a field of research is allowed by federal law, it shouldn’t be prevent [sic] by the Missouri legislature.”

    A dream long on hype, and short on reality - in other words: false hope. As indicated in this NewsMax article, any ESC-derived human treatment is more than a decade away - and that statement was made at the time when claims to have successfully isolated SCNT-derived human ESC lines had not yet been proven to be fraudulent. (That one step alone - successfully performing SCNT with human cells, harvesting ESCs from the resultant embryo, and isolating the stem cell lines - could add decades to any ESC-derived therapy/treatment timeline.)

    And about using stem cells to find curse for Parkinson's and diabetes? Adult stem cells have already been producing therapies for Parkinson's disease. (Note also that this second article - written in 2002, also addresses ASC-derived treatments for MS - the same disability from which the pro-Initiative protagonist in the Missourian article suffers. Oh, and it also mentions advances in ASC-derived diabetes treatments in mice.) Further, this article demonstrates that ASCs have proven superior to ESCs in both Parkinson's and diabetes, and at the same time debunks the hype of the very rat ESC spinal cord experiment referenced earlier.

    Moving on to the "Alternatives" section:

    Opposition to stem cell research most often has to do with the creation of embryos in order to destroy them.

    Embryonic. Opposition to embryonic stem cell research...

    Another alternative involves using embryos from fertility clinics. These embryos, which are usually destroyed anyway, could be used for SCNT, thereby averting the need to create new embryos.

    Whoops! Looks like that editor needed earlier is needed again. Embryoes are not used for SCNT, embryoes are the result of SCNT.

    Since our reporter still seems to be confused about this whole process, let me lay it out one more time. SCNT is the process of removing the nucleus from ("enucleating") an egg, and then implanting the nucleus from a somatic cell. (Cells are either somatic or gametic. Gametes are reproductive cells, and are "haploid" - only having half of genetic material of the cell donor. Somatic cells are non-reproductive cells, and are "diploid" - having the full genetic material of the cell donor.) Next, the joined cells are given an electric impetus, and if all goes well, the joined cells begin mitosis (cell division). At this point, the entity is biologically an embryo. At this point, SCNT has been used to clone the donor of the somatic cell, and the result of the SCNT process is an embryo that is a clone of the somatic cell donor.

    Next is the harvesting of ESCs. Regardless of how the embryo came about - whether through sexual reproduction (including IVF) or asexual cloning - the harvesting process is the same. The embryo is allowed to develop to the blastocyst stage, at which point the embryo consists of an outer layer that will later become the placenta, and an inner cell mass. At the blastycyst stage, this inner cell mass consists of undifferentiated stem cells. These stem cells are removed, thereby destroying the developing embryo.

    Moving on to "Hope for the Future" - I must point out once more:

    For now, Rob and Kara Clardy patiently wait and staunchly defend stem cell research.

    Embryonic. Patiently wait and staunchly defend embryonic stem cell research. The omission is especially important here. The Clardys are the article's Initiative supporters. The article's Initiative opponent likewise waits paintently and staunchly defends stem cell research; the critical difference is that the latter has had some the source of his hope yield some results, because he supports adult stem cell research.

    I haven't commented on the content of the beginning of the article, and I debated whether or not to do so, because I realize that any criticism of the position of the pro-Initiative protagonist could be perverted into shamefully attacking a disabled person's desire to find a cure for her condition, and that I lack the moral authority to question her position. However, after reading this compelling argument from Mary Meets Dolly that now is the time to stand on principle, I can't help but to challenge such a blatantly wrong position as espoused in this article.

    In the "Fighting Back" section:

    Kara and Rob Clardy, both self-described conservative Republicans, have weighed the arguments of their religion and their ideological positions, and they are confident that support for the issue is not inconsistent with their beliefs.

    I still have yet to see a Biblical defense of ESC research, but let's see what is presented:

    “The priest here in town has never said anything about this, but if he did, I’d go up and tell him that if the God I worship and love told me I was going to hell for supporting this, then I guess I’m going to hell,” said Kara Clardy, who was raised Catholic. “If it’s going to cure me, and I’m going to be able to spend time with my kids ... then I’d rather be able to do that, and have my kids have a better memory of life than (of) mom being sick all the time.”

    Well, I don't know what Bible she's reading, but my Bible says:

    5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. 6 "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.

    Genesis 9:5-6 (NIV)

    You shall not murder.

    Exodus 20:13

    It's the same problem I have with Arlen Specter's position: what makes him think that his life is worth more than that of the (several, untold numbers of) embryoes that would be destroyed in the yet-unproven hope of finding a cure or treatment from ESC research? Life is not ours to give and to take away, to choose who will live and who will die in the name of research, the "greater good", or any other morally relativistic reason.

    No offense intended, and all due respect, but, it's not all about "me". My Bible also says:

    For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

    Romans 12:3 (NIV)

    Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

    Philippians 2:3 (NIV)

    Contrast that position with that of the article's other protagonist, who has been wheelchair-bound for 20 years:

    “This became a driving force that I would speak about to other people,” he said. “There should be no exception to destroying a life in order to enhance mine or someone else’s.”

    McGarry empathizes with those who are suffering, but for him there is no question that the process is unethical and immoral.

    “In no way would I let them perform the surgery, even if there was a breakthrough, because of my beliefs,” he said. “It’s been 22 years, and I’d love a cure, but not at the expense of destroying a human being.”

    Can't say it better than that.

    Getting Past The Deception

    Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Elections, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

    The deceptively named Missouri Coalition for Life-Saving Cures (the Coalition) isn't going to get away with their equally deceptive attempt to re-define cloning in order to pass a constitutional amendment to protect cloning.

    I can appreciate an open, honest, intellectual discussion - and I think that, generally, those actually performing Somatic-Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT - i.e. cloning) research espouse that intellectual honesty. For instance, as reported by the Columia Missourian, the pro-SCNT Diana Schaub, a member of President Bush's bio-ethics committee and the political science chair at Loyola College of Maryland, says the language in Missouri’s proposed constitutional amendment to protect stem-cell therapeutic cloning is deceptive:

    I certainly agree that banning cloning to produce children is a good idea, but I disapprove of deceiving voters into thinking that embryonic stem-cell research by means of SCNT (somatic cell nuclear transfer, the common method for stem-cell research) is not cloning.”

    (Emphasis added)

    Money section:

    According to Schaub, the scientific definition of cloning is: “the asexual production of a new human organism that is, at all stages of development, genetically identical to a currently existing or previously existing human being.”

    Somatic cell nuclear transfer, says Schaub, is the procedure for cloning a somatic cell, or body cell, and putting it into a nucleated [sic] egg (an egg in which the nucleus has been removed) and then stimulating that egg to produce cell division. The result is a clone, or an organism that has the identical genetic makeup to the donor of the somatic cell.

    In both cloning for children and cloning for cures, the initial process is the same,” Schaub said. “SCNT is a cloning technique.

    The deception, she says, is that the amendment defines cloning as involving implantation.

    “It pretends to ban human cloning in total, when in fact, it only aims to ban the cloning of a live born human child,” she said. “We should have an honest discussion about whether human cloning for research purposes, should it become possible, whether that’s a good idea or not.”

    That last sentence is the whole key: opponents of the Coalition don't want to prohibit the vote; we simply want to have an honest discussion and a vote based on facts, not deception.

    Faced with this straight-forward statement, proponents of the Coalition can do nothing but admit their deception, and sound sophmoric doing so:

    Alex Bartlett, a panelist and lawyer who was involved with writing the initiative’s language, disagreed with Schaub’s assessment. He said the ballot language, which seeks to ban the cloning or the attempt to clone a human being, outlines very specifically what cloning is and what it is not.

    “I think John Smith on the street or Joe Blow, when they think of cloning they are thinking of creating a human version of Dolly the sheep (the first cloned animal),” Bartlett said. “We tried to get at that and that’s we were preventing.”

    Translation: we're trying to dumb-down Missourians, in order to pass an amendment protecting the very thing that Missourians are against.

    I can think of at least two means for the Coalition to be intellectually honest:

    1. Clarify that the Initiative bans reproductive cloning, while protecting therapeutic cloning.
    2. Clarify that the Initiative does not ban cloning, but prohibits implantation of cloned embryos.

    The reason that the Coalition won't choose either of these options is that they know that neither, having truthfully identified the intent of the Initiative, would garner the support of Missourians required to pass a constitutional amendment.

    While the Columbia Missourian gets the facts out in a mostly unbiased manner, the Jefferson City News Tribune is still getting it wrong, and reporting with bias:

    The proposed ballot measure, entitled the Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, includes language that would “ban human cloning,” which it defines as an attempt to implant into a woman a scientifically created embryo that did not come from a sperm and egg.

    But opponents call the title and ballot language deceptive and misleading for failing to classify a certain form of embryonic stem cell research, known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, as the scientific equivalent of human cloning.

    SCNT isn't a "certain form" of embryonic stem cell (ESC) research; it is the form of ESC research. SCNT isn't the "scientific equivalent" of human cloning; it is the definition of cloning - it is the method of cloning, period. These qualifier phrases clearly portray the pro-ESC research bias of the reporter, and it is against this very bias that obscures the facts that I will continue to fight. But the mis-information doesn't stop there:

    Under that procedure, the nucleus of an unfertilized human egg is replaced with the nucleus from a skin or nerve cell. The altered egg then is stimulated to grow in a lab dish, and researchers remove the resulting stem cells.

    This last statement is wrong; missing is that the researchers can only remove (embryonic) stem cells because the result of SCNT is an embryo, and it is from this embryo - which is destroyed in the process - that stem cells are extracted.

    And on top of biased reporting, we see just plain wrong reporting:

    Not all the panelists supported the type of stem cell research likely to be voted upon in Missouri in the fall.

    Diana Schaub, a political science professor at Loyola College in Maryland and a member of the President's Council on Bioethics, sided with opponents of the proposed November initiative. She called the ballot language a “definitional sleight of hand.”

    Yes, that's the same Diana Schaub quoted above - very much in favor of SCNT and ESC research. The irony here is, Schaub is in favor of the research, but opposed to the language of the Initiative. Though, perhaps Schaub here is incorrectly identified as an opponent of the Initiative in order to discredit her criticism of that language?

    And in related news, the Coalition is suing a rival organization to have its web site taken down. Apparently, they don't like being Google-bombed:

    "They've stolen our Web site," said Donn Rubin, chairman of Lifesaving Cures. "They've stolen our codes, our pictures, our graphics" in what he alleged was an attempt to confuse Internet search engines and the public.

    In the words of Glenn: heh.

    Good luck with that...

    All sources via John Combest.

    Adult Stem Cell Treatments

    Filed in Science, Social IssuesTags: Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

    I often reference's list of ASC-versus-ESC treatments, which indicates that Adult Stem Cells (ASCs) have yielded 65 treatments while Embryonic Stem Cells (ESCs) have yielded none. This list was last updated July 19, 2005, and appears to be outdated.

    According to CorCell, those numbers are now 80 ASC treatments, and still 0 ESC treatments.

    If I ever get a spare month or three, I'm going to start looking into the pipeline. (Michael Fumento reports that ASCs have some 1,000 clinical trials in process.) Since the hype about ESCs involves so-called "potential", I want to compare them to ASCs with respect to real potential. I've not seen a comprehensive list.

    Via Michael Fumento.

    Consistent with the Clone the Truth campaign, I am committed to ensuring that the truth about adult and embryonic stem cell and related research is made known.

    Catholic Congressional Democrats Release Statment of…Something

    Filed in Politics, Religion, Science, Social IssuesTags: Christianity, Democrats, Sanctity of Life

    A group of 55 "Catholic" Congressional democrats have released a "Statement of Principles Prevarication" in which they take the untenable position of "work[ing] every day to advance respect for life and the dignity of every human being" while (without explicitly so stating) being against making abortion illegal.

    Seems like as good a topic as any for a Saturday-afternoon fisking, eh?

    As Catholic Democrats in Congress, we are proud to be part of the living Catholic tradition -- a tradition that promotes the common good, expresses a consistent moral framework for life and highlights the need to provide a collective safety net to those individuals in society who are most in need. As legislators, in the U.S. House of Representatives, we work every day to advance respect for life and the dignity of every human being. We believe that government has moral purpose.

    The "living Catholic tradition"? I'm not a Catholic, so maybe this phraseology is accepted in the Catholic church. Of course, my protestant/evangelistic upbringing has instilled in me the unchanging and inerrant quality of the Word of God, which would contradict a "living tradition" with respect to doctrine in much the same way that words of the U.S. Constitution, as ratified, contradict the concept of a "living constitution" with respect to legal issues.

    That little phrase aside, I am struck by this collection of words expressing nothing more than that the signitories to this Statement are adherents of liberal ideology. In so doing, it exposes the contradiction of that ideology on its face.

    Expressing a "consistent moral framework for life" and working "to advance respect for life and the dignity of every human being" would imply that adherents to such philosophies would 1) define life in a consistent and moral manner, and 2) work to advance respect for the life and dignity of every human life so defined. However, the signitories to this Statement will spend the duration of its text rationalizing away their disregard for both of these points.

    The only scientifically, morally consistent definition for life concludes that life begins at conception. Scientifically, conception is the point at which a genetically unique entity comes into existence. Morally, respect for and sanctity of life presumes that benefit of the doubt must be given to the entity created by conception.

    Therefore, advocacy of abortion becomes a moot issue with respect to consistent scientific and moral argument. Thus, unable to avoid this point, proponents of abortion resort to re-defining "life". So much for expressing a "consistent moral framework for life."

    As for working "to advance respect for life and the dignity of every human being" - several (if not perhaps, all) of the signitories of this Statement would oppose partial-birth abortion (so-called "late-term" abortion, a term used to disguise the fact that such abortions occur with all but the head of the baby having been birthed). To the contrary, advocating abortion serves to advance convenience versus responsibility and panders to the extreme ideologues who back the candidacy of such politicians.

    I'll come back to the matter of government serving a moral purpose.

    We are committed to making real the basic principles that are at the heart of Catholic social teaching: helping the poor and disadvantaged, protecting the most vulnerable among us, and ensuring that all Americans of every faith are given meaningful opportunities to share in the blessings of this great country. That commitment is fulfilled in different ways by legislators but includes: reducing the rising rates of poverty; increasing access to education for all; pressing for increased access to health care; and taking seriously the decision to go to war. Each of these issues challenges our obligations as Catholics to community and helping those in need.

    Without question, the "most vulnerable among us" are unborn children. Abortion deprives these human lives of "meaningful opportunities to share in the blessings of this great country." Access to education by unborn children is greatly increased when we protect them from being aborted. The rest of the text here only serves as a distraction from the primary issue: so-called "Catholics" rationalizing their disagreement with the Catholic church in support of abortion.

    We envision a world in which every child belongs to a loving family and agree with the Catholic Church about the value of human life and the undesirability of abortion—we do not celebrate its practice. Each of us is committed to reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and creating an environment with policies that encourage pregnancies to be carried to term. We believe this includes promoting alternatives to abortion, such as adoption, and improving access to children=s healthcare and child care, as well as policies that encourage paternal and maternal responsibility.

    I envision a world in which every human life has protected its God-given right to life. The Bible teaches that humans are created in the image of God, and that man does not have the right to take the life of another man in murder. The Bible teaches that even our lives are not our own, since we were bought by the life of Christ on the Cross. We no more have the right to murder unborn humans than we have the moral right to take our own lives.

    To my knowledge, the Catholic church does not preach merely the "undesirability of abortion", but rather its utter moral reprehension. Advocacy of post-birth social policies does not constitute sufficient nor appropriate substitution for absolute support for the unalienable, God-given right of every human - born or unborn - to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    In all these issues, we seek the Church=s guidance and assistance but believe also in the primacy of conscience. In recognizing the Church's role in providing moral leadership, we acknowledge and accept the tension that comes with being in disagreement with the Church in some areas. Yet we believe we can speak to the fundamental issues that unite us as Catholics and lend our voices to changing the political debate -- a debate that often fails to reflect and encompass the depth and complexity of these issues.

    Read that first sentence one more time:

    In all these issues, we seek the Church=s guidance and assistance but believe also in the primacy of conscience.

    When did the Catholic church start teaching modernism, secular humanism and moral relativism? One cannot claim to adhere to Christianity, yet proclaim that the conscience is primary to the Word.

    These issues are only complex because advocates of abortion must introduce non-existent and specious complications in order to justify their morally unjust position. Human life begins at conception, and every human life is sacred. Any act intended to deprive a human of his right to life thus cannot be defended morally.

    As legislators, we are charged with preserving the Constitution, which guarantees religious freedom for all Americans. In doing so, we guarantee our right to live our own lives as Catholics, but also foster an America with a rich diversity of faiths. We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties.

    And what of your duties to preserve the religious freedom for unborn humans? Protection of abortion is not a matter of religious freedom (please point out the religion that preaches abortion?). Religious freedom does not supercede the unalienable, God-given rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Is the right of polygamy protected as a religious freedom? Pedophilia? Sacrifice of children? Beheading infidels?

    Thus we find the moral purpose of the government: to safeguard the expression of religious belief of everyone, by defining the point at which the exercise of one's beliefs encroaches upon the rights of another. Therefore, the key issue remains: unborn children are living humans; as such, their right to life trumps the right of religious expression of their mother, father, or anyone else.

    As Catholic Democrats who embrace the vocation and mission of the laity as expressed by Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici, we believe that the Church is the "people of God," called to be a moral force in the broadest sense. We believe the Church as a community is called to be in the vanguard of creating a more just America and world. And as such, we have a claim on the Church's bearing as it does on ours.

    The church is called to be the light of the world. By advocating the destruction of human life via abortion, you extinguish your own moral light, silence your own moral voice, and render impotent whatever moral force you wish to exert. In what way does advocating or allowing the murder of unborn humans created "a more just America and world"?

    And there you have it.

    Plenty of reaction from the Catholic community (whom, for the most part, I will leave to discuss the Statement with respect to Catholicism - being that I am not Catholic). ProLifeBlogs does a great job distilling the argument to its bare essentials, and then taking it to the logical conclusion:

    Here's what I don't get. I used to be one of these "personally pro-life" people who thought abortion was undesirable. Why do these people think it's undesirable? There can only be one reason. Because they, like I, know it's the taking of a human life.

    So, why then aren't we allowed to put a stop to that? Why, on this one isssue, are we told we have no "right" to stop others from "choosing" to end human life?

    If the goverment has no business being in the bedroom (does anyone here know of any abortion that's ever taken place in the bedroom?) why outlaw rape? Rape happens in a bedroom often. Why isn't a rapist free to choose to rape?

    Why are murderers not free to choose to murder? What business does the goverment have in telling any of these people what to do?

    The truth is, ALL laws tell people what to do. ALL laws take away certain choices, choices that hurt others.

    Other commentary: LifeNews, EWTN Global Catholic Network, Catholic News Service, The Catholic League, BeliefNet, Mirror of Justice, Catholic Online, LifeSite,

    Via Pro-Life Blogs.

    Missourians Against Human Cloning

    Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Missouri, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

    The official campaign in opposition to the Missouri Stem Cells Initiative is kicked-off, as of today: Missourians Against Human Cloning:

    Missourians Against Human Cloning is a coalition of Missouri citizens and organizations established to provide Missouri voters with the truth about this amendment to our state constitution. We are confident that when Missourians truly understand the truth about this initiative and it's ramifications, they will oppose it wholeheartedly.

    Get involved today!

    Early: The New “Embryonic”

    Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Missouri, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

    Rebecca Taylor of Mary Meets Dolly links to this Kansas City Star article:

    Missouri’s cloning war came to the Capitol on Thursday when two Washington University scientists wrangled over research on early stem cells and the laboratory techniques used to grow them.


    The two men, both respected researchers, offered their competing viewpoints during a forum at the Missouri Press Association’s Day at the Capitol.

    Rebecca makes a great point about the following:

    The conclusion? It comes down to whether you view the cells created by the process to be a person.

    Steven Teitelbaum, a professor who supports the initiative petition that would protect stem-cell research in Missouri, said he believes that cells in a Petri dish are not persons. But science, he said, cannot answer the question.

    “It depends on your religious tradition, your ethics, the feeling in your gut…” Teitelbaum said. “When does a soul come into the body, if at all? Clearly, no one knows that.”

    Richard Chole, a fellow professor who opposes the initiative, said he believes that a human being is formed at the moment of conception or the moment that a person’s skin cell is copied through cloning techniques. Taking the stem cells that develop, he said, essentially kills a developing human.

    “A line should be drawn,” Chole said, “at the point we are destroying a human life.”

    Rebecca's take:

    Teitelbaum is correct that there is no way to scientifically prove when the soul enters the body. And different religions hold differing beliefs. We Catholics believe that the soul is present from the moment of conception because that is when science tells us that a new human life begins. (Surprisingly, many Catholics erroneously believe that an embryo created by SCNT does not have a soul.)

    But, if he is correct that no one knows for sure, why would he automatically say it is okay to destroy life that we are unsure about? Wouldn't logic dictate that if "science cannot answer that question" that science should err on the side of caution?


    Other than that point, something else caught my attention in this article. See the following excerpts:

    Missouri’s cloning war came to the Capitol on Thursday when two Washington University scientists wrangled over research on early stem cells and the laboratory techniques used to grow them.


    The controversy involves a process known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, sometimes called therapeutic cloning. Researchers take a human egg cell, remove its nucleus and replace it with the nucleus of an ordinary cell, such as a skin cell. The egg reprograms the nucleus to act like an egg that was newly fertilized by a sperm.

    In a few days, it will grow into a ball of cells known as a blastocyst. Inside that ball are early stem cells, which have the potential to grow into all the different tissues of the body.


    The basic issue, he said, is the vast potential that research on early stem cells offers.

    The author's bias on this issue is shining as brightly as Moses' face when he descended Mt. Sinai, veiled in the substitution of "early stem cells" for "embryonic stem cells" and referring to the embryo as a "ball of cells".

    SCNT is a cloning technique that results in a zygote. Upon first division, that entity is then an embryo, by definition. The blastocyst is part of the embryonic phase of development of that entity. Thus, the stem cells contained within that blastocyst are embryonic stem cells.

    But the bias doesn't stop with the misrepresentation of the nature of stem cells as embryonic. Note that the author also makes this statement:

    The controversy involves a process known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, sometimes called therapeutic cloning.

    Saying that SCNT is "sometimes" called therapeutic cloning is like saying the President of the United States (POTUS) is "sometimes" called the Commander-In-Chief (CIC). POTUS is always the CIC, even if he does not always act in that capacity. SCNT is always cloning; the differentiation between "therapeutic" and "reproductive" exists only in the intended use of the product of the procedure.

    To that end, I find the following arguments by Steven Teitelbaum to be specious.


    Teitelbaum said the initiative uses common-sense meanings. When typical voters think of human cloning, they expect to see a baby, he said. The initiative would ban cloning a baby by imposing criminal penalties against anyone who attempted to implant cloned cells into a woman’s uterus.

    Proponents claim the initiative uses "common-sense meanings", yet the initiative fact sheet adamantly claims that it bans human cloning:

    Voting YES on the Initiative protects stem cell research and cures - and strictly prohibits human cloning.


    It also sets responsible boundaries and guidelines to ensure that stem cell research is conducted ethically and safely. And, it resolves concerns that stem cell research could lead to human cloning by strictly banning any attempt to clone a human being.

    These semantics are not "common-sense"; they are an intentional misrepresentation of the nature and intent of both the procedure, and the initiativfe itself. At the point of implantation into the uterus, the cloning procedure has long-since been completed, and the clone has long-since been created. At this point, implantation in the uterus versus harvesting for stem cells is a matter of intended use of the clone, not one of defining the nature or identity of the entity resulting from the cloning procedure.


    In addition, the blastocyst created by nuclear transfer is fundamentally different from one created by the union of sperm and egg, Teitelbaum said. The sexually produced blastocyst has some 25 genes functioning that permit it to implant in the uterus and begin to develop. In the cloned version, those genes are not functioning, he said.

    Oh really? Fundamentally different, eh? Somebody better tell Dolly; she still thinks she's a sheep. A whole lot of researchers are going to be shocked by this revelation that she is "fundamentally different" from a sheep, because she was the result of SCNT.

    A Reader’s Response on ANT

    Filed in Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

    Parableman stops by this post about the stem-cell issue, that I submitted to Christian Carnival CIX. He has some thoughts on ANT:

    I don't think it's as clear on ANT. The way it's usually been described from what I've read is that they alter the genetic information before they import the nucleus. The genetic engineering thus takes place before there's any orgnanism, and I think what they're doing is not like producing a human being that is alive and unable to grow but more like producing a corpse with still-living material. But it's not producing a corpse by killing an organism. It's more like producing a corpse by putting together materials that are incapable of being an organism. That doesn't sound anywhere near as problematic as the way you describe it. I think there are ethical worries, but I think it's misleading to describe it as a living embryo and then preventing it from growing. Does it count as an organism at all? I don't think that's as easy a question as you're making it sound. Current understandings of what it takes to answer that seem to me to be indeterminate on this sort of question.

    I appreciate all input, and I'd like to discuss. On this statement:

    The way it's usually been described from what I've read is that they alter the genetic information before they import the nucleus. The genetic engineering thus takes place before there's any orgnanism...

    Let's take a look at what actually happens in the process. The method used here is still Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT):

    The nucleus of a cell contains DNA, which acts roughly as its blueprint (although unlike an actual blueprint, these instructions are greatly affected by environment as well as other factors not yet fully understood and can change over time). In somatic cell nuclear transfer the nucleus of an unfertilized egg is removed or destroyed. A somatic cell (a cell other than a sperm or egg cell) is then inserted into the enucleated egg and the two cells fuse together.

    Altered Nuclear Transfer (ANT) modifies not the process, but one of the components: namely, the somatic cell implanted in the nucleus-free egg. What, then, is a somatic cell?

    A somatic cell is generally taken to mean any cell forming the body of an organism: the word "somatic" is derived from the Greek word s?ma, meaning "body". Somatic cells, by definition, are not germline cells and cannot divide or differentiate to produce a new generation of offspring under any circumstances. In mammals, germline cells are the sperm and ova (also known as "gametes") which fuse during fertilisation to produce a cell called a zygote, from which the entire mammalian embryo develops. Every other cell type in the mammalian body – apart from the sperm and ova, the cells from which they are made (gametocytes) and undifferentiated stem cells – is a somatic cell; internal organs, skin, bones, blood and connective tissue are all made up of somatic cells.


    Somatic cells can also be defined by the amount of genetic material they contain, which in mammals is always twice as much as contained in a germline cell. The genetic information in human somatic cells is packaged into 23 pairs of chromosomes. Human germline cells contain exactly half this amount, i.e. 23 single chromosomes. This means that when an ova and sperm fuse, they produce a zygote with 23 pairs of chromosomes.

    The problem, then, that I have with your statement that "genetic engineering thus takes place before there's any organism" is that the SCNT process (altered or otherwise) requires a genetically fully human organism to be present at every step. The process starts with a genetically fully human somatic cell, implants it into an enucleated human gamete, creating a genetically fully human embryo. Both the original somatic cell and the resulting embryo contain 23 pairs of chromosomes.

    ANT does not modify this genetic makeup of either the somatic cell nor of the resulting embryo. This point is critical, and ANT proponents (including Dr. Hurlbut) try to disguise this fact:

    Altered Nuclear Transfer uses the technology of NT but with a preemptive alteration that assures that no embryo is created.

    The somatic cell nucleus or the enucleated egg contents (cytoplasm) or both are first altered before the somatic cell nucleus is transferred into the egg. The alterations cause the somatic cell DNA to function in such a way that no embryo is generated, but pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) are produced.

    This point is critical, and ANT proponents' position here is untenable. Stem cells are not "formed", they are - by definition - derived from an embryo. Definition of embryonic stem cells:

    Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are stem cells derived from the undifferentiated inner mass cells of a human embryo (sometimes called a blastocyst, which is an early stage embryo - approximately 1 week old in humans - consisting of 50-150 cells).

    To be clear, here is the definition of a blastocyst:

    A mammal develops from a single cell called a zygote, which results from an oocyte (egg) being fertilized by a single sperm. The zygote is surrounded by a strong membrane of glycoproteins called the zona pellucida which the successful sperm has managed to penetrate.

    The zygote undergoes cleavage, increasing the number of cells within the zona pellucida. When there are about 4 to 16 cells, the embryo is in the morula stage. When the number of cells reaches 40 to 150, a central, fluid-filled cavity (blastocoel) forms. The zona pellucida begins to degenerate. This stage in the developing embryo is the blastocyst, and lasts approximately until the implantation in the uterus. The outer cells develop into the placenta.

    The definition of a zygote:

    A zygote a cell that is the result of fertilization. That is, two haploid cells—usually (but not always) an ovum from a female and a sperm cell from a male—merge into a single diploid cell called the zygote (or zygocyte).

    Animal zygotes undergo mitotic cell divisions to become an embryo.

    And finally, the definition of embryo:

    An embryo a diploid eukaryote in its earliest stage of development.


    In organisms that reproduce sexually, once a sperm fertilizes an egg cell, the result is a cell called the zygote that has all the DNA of two parents. In plants, animals, and some protists, the zygote will begin to divide by mitosis to produce a multicellular organism. The term embryo refers to the early stages of this development, after the zygote has divided at least once, but before the process has completed to produce a new individual.

    Apologies for the copious quoting, but it is important that the meanings of each of these terms are understood.

    Now, back to Hulburt's defense:

    Why the cell produced by ANT is not an embryo and cannot produce an embryo:

    Because the alterations are made before the somatic cell nucleus is transferred into the egg, the result of the ANT procedure is a cell whose DNA and pattern of gene expression are not only altered, but altered from the very start. Therefore from the very start it does not have the capacity for the integrated organization and coordinated development that characterize a human embryo. This is clearest in the case of ANT-OAR where the cell directly behaves like a pluripotent cell.

    Elsewhere, in his bioethics presentation to the President, he gives this explanation for why the result of ANT is not a "living organism":

    The moral argument for Altered Nuclear Transfer is grounded in the emerging science of systems biology. According to this radical revision of our prevailing reductionistic views, an organism is a living whole, a dynamic network of interdependent and integrated parts.

    There are essential subsystems of growth (cells, tissues and organs), but a living being is more than the sum of its parts, and the parts are dependent on the integrated unity of the whole. Fully constituted, the organism is a self-sustaining and harmonious whole, a unified being with an inherent principle of organization that orders and guides its continuity of growth. In the human embryo, this principle of organismal unity is an engaged and effective potential-in-process, an activated dynamic of development in the direction of the mature human form. Incompletely constituted or severed from the whole, subsystems with partial trajectories of development may temporarily proceed forward with a certain biological momentum. Ultimately, however, they fail to rise to the level of the coordinated coherence of a living organism and become merely disorganized cellular growth.

    This is dangerous ground, for several reasons. Unaltered, the somatic cell and egg would fuse, begin mitosis, and the resulting embryo would proceed on to further development. Altered, the somatic cell and egg would fuse, begin mitosis (note, again, at this point, the organism is an embryo) - identical to the unaltered organism, except that it has been genetically robbed of its inherent ability to develop. Let me reiterate: the moment a zygote containing 23 paired human chromosomes divides, an embryo exists; a non-viable embryo, to be sure - but an embryo, nonetheless. ANT proponents can argue the moral impact of the creation of a non-viable embryo, but to claim that ANT does not produce an embryo is a fallacy. Two arguments:

    • First, NT produces a zygote, which upon first division becomes - by definition - an embryo.
    • Second, ANT does not produce stem cells directly, but an organism containing stem cells. As was demonstrated above, the entity containing stem cells is an embryo at the blastocyst stage.

    So, coming back to Parableman's comment:

    I think what they're doing is not like producing a human being that is alive and unable to grow but more like producing a corpse with still-living material. But it's not producing a corpse by killing an organism. It's more like producing a corpse by putting together materials that are incapable of being an organism.

    Hopefully you can see now that the rationalization for the entity created from ANT being non-living (or non-human, or whatever term they choose to use) is to re-define the meaning of "living":"Fully constituted, the organism is a self-sustaining and harmonious whole, a unified being with an inherent principle of organization that orders and guides its continuity of growth. In the human embryo, this principle of organismal unity is an engaged and effective potential-in-process, an activated dynamic of development in the direction of the mature human form." Again, unaltered, the embryo would progress along the natural developmental path; altered, the embryo is denied that natural development.

    This rationalization is crudely analagous to genetically altering the hypothalamus or androgen/LH receptor genes of a child, inhibiting that child from progressing through puberty into adulthood, and then claiming that, because the child is unable to progress along his natural developmental path, that he is not "living".

    Remember, the somatic cell is inherently capable of development into a fully developed entity. This concept is the entire basis of SCNT. Thus, the somatic cell is in no way materials that are incapable of being an organism, nor is it like "corpse with still-living material.

    The moral and ethical concerns of genetically altering a potential human life are myriad, and better left for another day. My point here is only to clarify the process of ANT and the nature of the entities involved beforehand and produced as a result.

    Finally, Parableman's comment:

    ...I think it's misleading to describe it as a living embryo and then preventing it from growing.

    The embryo resulting from SCNT inherently progresses along its natural development path. The embryo resulting from ANT begins progressing along that same natural development path, but has been genetically inhibited from completing that path. It reaches at least the blastocyst stage - as evidenced by its development of embryonic stem cells.

    ANT does not directly produce stem cells; it produces an embryo that develops stem cells as part of its natural developmenet process. Again, argue the moral/ethical issues surrounding the creation of an embryo genetically altered to inhibit its development; but the claim that ANT does not produce a human embryo is unequivocally untrue.

    Clone The Truth: Stem-Cell Research Splits Republicans

    Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Democrats, Republicans, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

    Today's obfuscation comes from roto-Reuters, in Stem Cell Research Splits Republicans.

    Getting right into it:

    The Republican rift pits religious conservatives and abortion foes who oppose the research on moral grounds against supporters who tout its potential benefits in fighting diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

    Embryonic Stem Cell (ESC) research has proven no potential for benefits in fighting or curing any diseases. Adult Stem Cells (ASRs), however, have already proven to be efficacious in treating Parkinson's Disease, and are beginning to demonstrate effectiveness in fighting Alzheimer's Disease. Proponents of ESC research never seem to note these accomplishments of ASRs, nor do the MSM outlets reporting on stem-cell related news and issues.

    With polls showing large majorities of Americans backing stem-cell research, some Republican candidates find themselves stuck in the middle. Democrats, who largely support the research, are eager to take advantage of their quandary.

    Large majorities of Americans back stem-cell research? No differentiation between ASC and ESC research? This 2001 ABC News poll says most Americans support stem cell research, yet buried in the article is this note:

    In a poll it released last month, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops posed the issue by saying "live embryos would be destroyed" for undefined "experiments"; it found 70 percent opposed. By contrast, a pro-research poll didn't mention embryos, referring to "excess fertilized eggs" and listing seven "deadly diseases" the research could help treat. It found 77 percent in favor.

    Words matter.

    In Missouri, supporters are gathering signatures to put a referendum on the state ballot in November that would protect certain types of stem-cell research.

    Not "certain types" - all types. The initiative redefines "cloning" as "not cloning":

    Voting YES on the Initiative protects stem cell research and cures - and strictly prohibits human cloning.

    Clearly, a state ban on any lifesaving stem cell research and cures that are allowed in our country would be unfair to Missouri patients and medical institutions. The Stem Cell Initiative will prevent such unfair bans by making it clear in our state constitution that any stem cell research and cures allowed under federal law will continue to be allowed in Missouri.

    It also sets responsible boundaries and guidelines to ensure that stem cell research is conducted ethically and safely. And, it resolves concerns that stem cell research could lead to human cloning by strictly banning any attempt to clone a human being.

    And intentionally to confuse the issue with voters, and practically requires the state to fund research with public funds.

    But he recently dropped support for a controversial ban on human cloning and offered a compromise on stem-cell research, angering conservatives who were among his base supporters.

    The proposed cloning ban is "controversial" in the same way that Cheney's hunting accident was "news" - only because the MSM tried to make it so. Yet another 2001 ABC News poll found that 9 out of 10 Americans oppose human reproductive cloning, and Americans oppose human therapeutic cloning 2 to 1.

    "Talent is in a political no man's land where he is in the line of fire from people on both sides of the issue," said Sam Lee, director of Campaign Life Missouri, an anti-abortion lobbying group. Lee said opponents of stem-cell research were angry enough to skip voting for Talent in November.

    Right, Republicans are going to allow - actively or passively - the staunchly pro-ESC research Claire McCaskill to unseat Talent. Roto-Reuters is smoking the funny mushrooms again.

    Stem-cell research is opposed by conservative groups who compare it to abortion because it destroys embryos. But supporters, including some Republicans who oppose abortion rights, say the research offers crucial hope for medical breakthroughs.

    Again, ESC research has offered no hope whatsoever - much less, "crucial hope" - for any medical breakthrough, while ASC research has already yielded at least 65 treatments, and the numbers keep growing. (Caveat emptor: the "Stem Cell Research Foundation" is complicit in the redefinition of terminology, including this statement: "Therapeutic cloning is not the same as reproductive cloning, which is intended to genetically duplicate a person" knowing full-well that SCNT genetically duplicates the donor of the somatic cell. However, even their "what's new" section cannot hide the fact that ASCs produce benefit, cure, and therapy after benefit, cure, and therapy while ESCs are long on hype and woefully short on results.)

    Via John Combest.

    MetroVoice 2006 Sanctity of Life Special Edition

    Filed in Religion, Science, Social IssuesTags: Christianity, Clone The Truth, Cloning, Missouri, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

    The February 2006 St. Louis MetroVoice is a Special Edition devoted to Sanctity of Life.

    The edition includes:

    MetroVoice's Editorial Policy:

    The MetroVoice is non-denominationally and non-politically aligned to encourage unity and activism in support of, or opposition to, those issues which affect the Christian community in particular and local community as a whole. It supports the biblical doctrines expressed in the ecumenical creeds of the Apostle's Creed, Nicene Creed, Creed of Chalcedon and Athanasian Creed and views both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible as the infallible and authoritative Word of God.