Tue, Aug 31, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Fetuses have full rights too

By Paul Kokoski

A few weeks ago the UK granted its first license for human cloning for stem cell research.

Contrary to the claims of many, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that embryonic stem cell research has more potential to lead to viable treatments for various diseases than research with non-embryonic stem cells.

There is, however, strong evidence to suggest that the opposite is true.

Leading stem cell researchers Robert Lanza and Nadia Rosenthal have concluded that embryonic stem cells pose the problem of spontaneously differentiating into a hodgepodge of tissue types. They need "coaxing" to differentiate into the desired cell types.

In addition, embryonic stem cells carry the likelihood of immune rejection in humans, which makes embryonic stem cell research an extremely dangerous -- if not impossible -- prospect.

It is little wonder that no therapies for humans using embryonic stem cells have ever been successfully carried out. It is also becoming clear that cloning is the only viable method of overcoming these restrictions.

However, efforts to produce live animals through cloning have also met with an unusually high rate of deformities and mortality.

Tests using human adult stem cells, however, have produced significant and encouraging results in the areas of Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injury, cardiovascular disease, sickle-cell anemia and dozens of other conditions -- without posing any moral problem.

On a biological level, the pre-natal being is unlike any other tissue: it is human, with its own DNA. As such it has all the same fundamental rights as any other human being.

In light of these facts the cry should be not for an increase in federal funding for embryonic stem cells, but rather an aggressive expansion of adult stem cell research.

Paul Kokoski

Ontario, Canada

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