Alliance for Life Ontario supports stem cell research and views it as a great good and a worthy scientific priority as long as it is pursued ethically. Stem cells can be obtained from people without seriously harming others and this is ethical. However, obtaining stem cells from human embryos can never be ethical because it directly, purposefully and intentionally destroys human embryos.
International documents such as the Nuremburg Code, the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Helsinki, and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights reject the use of human beings in experimental research without their informed consent and permit research on incompetent subjects only if there is a legal surrogate, minimal risk, and therapeutic benefit for the human subject.
There are two types of stem cell research: embryonic and adult stem cell research. What’s the difference? And what is their potential for developing breakthrough treatments? Watch The Future of Stem Cells (below) to find out.
Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Embryonic stem cell research involves the killing of a newly conceived human being in the embryonic stage of life, in order to extract their stem cells from the inner cell mass.
Human embryonic stem cell research is unethical: from www.stemcellresearch.org/statement/index.html
Recent history provides tragic examples of attempts to justify gross violations of the rights of human beings in medical research on the utilitarian basis of “social and medical benefit”: the Tuskegee experiments on African Americans, U.S. government-sponsored radiation research, the Nazi medical war crimes, etc.
Good ends (e.g., health) do not justify the use of unethical means (e.g., killing human beings).
Scientifically, the international consensus of embryologists is that human beings begin at fertilization (or cloning)–i.e., when their genetic code is complete and operative; even before implantation they are far more than a “bunch of cells” or merely “potential human beings.”
Adult Stem Cell Research
Adult stem cell research involves the use of stem cells extracted from umbilical cord blood, fat cells, bone marrow and other ethical sources from the human body. This type does not involve the taking of human life.
To date, there have been 73 cures derived from the use of adult stem cells and no cures derived from the use of human embryonic stem cells. Click here to see the amazing cures.
Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research is Scientifically Unnecessary
Other research methods which use stem cells from adults to develop treatments for many diseases have recently been successful; in fact, the British Medical Journal (1999) has concluded that, in medical research, human embryonic stem cells “may soon be eclipsed by the more readily available and less controversial adult stem cells.”
The use of a patient’s own stem cells is even preferable to using embryonic stem cells because it avoids the problem of the body rejecting cells other than its own
Other new methods such as somatic cell gene therapy are increasingly successful in tissue regeneration and otherwise treating disease.
Click here (pdf) to see AFLO’s brief to CIHR on Stem Cell Research ** Please note: The following links are referral documents overseeing Stem Cell Rresearch and Assisted Human Reproduction in Canada. They do not necessarily represent the views of Alliance for Life Ontario