That rat again...

60 Minutes (7-8-11) ran a story about ‘cutting edge’ treatments for spinal injuries.  Australian participants, such as Josh Clift and Amanda Boxtel, travelled to the Shepherd Clinic in the USA where they underwent intense physiotherapy to make the most of, and improve, the remaining function they had.

Josh has been able to regain the leg muscle mass that he had in his football playing days.  Suspended over a treadmill, Josh is working hard to improve the limited leg movement he has.

The story then moves to the formal trial the Shepherd Clinic is conducting using stem cell injections as a mechanism to curing and overcoming spinal injuries.  Peter Overton, the 60 Minutes interviewer, states, “Dr Donald Leslie is supervising some of the first formal tests on the controversial science of taking cells from a human embryo and injecting them into a patient. It’s already worked on paralysed rats.”  

At least they are honest enough to state that the stem cells are taken from human embryos.  One can only assume that the end of the statement stating, “It’s already worked on paralysed rats,” is referring to the shonky experiment by Alan Trounson a few years ago which has since been debunked as fraudulent. (http://www.newsweekly.com.au/article.php?id=1133)

The first and only reason that matters against using embryonic stem cells is that a tiny human being has to lose his/her life in order for those stem cells to be removed.  It is ethically and morally wrong to destroy one unborn human life (albeit the tiniest of humans at the earliest stage of development) in order to repair or restore function to a born human. 

A second reason against using embryonic stem cells is none – not one – of the breakthroughs in treatments or cures to date have come from embryonic stem cells.  

Adult stem cells on the other hand have numerous runs on the board in the areas of treatments and cures.  Adult stem cells can be harvested from the patient or close relative either from bone marrow, fat cells, and numerous other areas including the umbilical cord after a baby has been born.  The obtaining of these adult stem cells doesn't involve the destruction of a developing baby.  Embryonic stem cells remain unproven in animals and unusable in humans – for reasons such as tumour formation – while our own adult stem cells are safely used in many human conditions.

We need to ask the question: Why the unthinking push and promotion of embryonic stem cells when they have an utterly dismal and dangerous record compared to adult stem cells?  False hope is being given to these young Australians seeking a cure of their conditions.  

An old expression comes to mind, “Never do evil (the killing of an unborn human) that (a hoped-for) good may come of it.”