Monday, July 22, 2024

Life Versus Freezers

January 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Stem Cells


If you were a frozen embryo, would you rather die in a freezer or donate your life to science? It seems like a very easy choice to make, don’t you think? I have never had to think much about the stem cell debate before Addi and Cassi were diagnosed with a rare and fatal disease but now stem cell research is at the forefront of my mind.Stem cell research could someday save  children who are suffering from Niemann Pick Type C and other deadly childhood diseases.

I ask any person who is opposed to stem cell research to put themselves in our position — our children are on a path to losing their minds and will suffer a most horrific death if we don’t accelerate scientific research across the board, including into stem cells.

I tend to fall into the more conservative camp on a number of moral and political issues but I have been thinking about my vote in the upcoming 2008 election. I want to support candidates who will work to allow science to move forward while addressing the main moral conundrum.  Because we are faced with this horrible situation, I am quickly understanding that the Bush administration’s position on this subject is simplistic and naive.

All I can think about is Addi and Cassi ending up dead in a freezer …just like these embryos. Why? If embryos are "life" it seems to me that these embryonic "children" would be honored to give up their lives to save other children like Addi and Cassi who in turn might end up giving their lives to try and solve one of the most complex brain mysteries in science. Children should not be in freezers – left to die as an embryo or dead from a disease that can be solved. It’s time to let scientists and researchers do their jobs — to save lives, including yours, your children and your grandchildren.

The following is a quote from a letter to the editor of the Reno Gazette Journal in January 2007 written by Lawrence Goldstein, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor and Department Of Cellular and Molecular Medicine Director for UC San Diego Stem Cell Program.

"It’s unfortunate that those opposed to embryonic stem cell research have jumped to the wrong conclusion once again about the recent report that a new cellular reprogramming method might eliminate the need for embryonic stem cells. There are two important facts about this exciting recent advance in reprogramming adult cells: first, this advance was possible only because of work done with embryonic stem cells; second, like most stem cell advances, we are still early in our understanding of the implications of these findings.

What remains certain is that thousands of embryos will die in the coming years in freezers across this country and around the world. There is abundant genetic diversity in those frozen embryos that could be a lifesaving source of novel therapies for devastating diseases. Scientists have never argued that embryonic stem cells have the only medical potential. Scientists do say that policymakers should not tie the hands of science by allowing us to look through only one door in our quest for new disease treatments."  Read the entire letter here.

Clearly, this issue is extremely complicated. I do not support the creation of embryos purely for scientific purposes. However, the harsh reality is that 10s if not 100s of thousands of embryos are currently being stored in freezers for "family building."  Of those, many will never turn into children like Addi and Cassi and thus will be destroyed by fertility clinics. As a society, we have already accepted the creation of embryos outside the body for the purpose of creating life and in vitro created children are filling up classrooms everywhere. The possibilities of embryonic stem cell research are limitless. These embryos, who are now living under a death sentence in freezers, should be entitled to a right to life by living on in others through helping solve complex medical problems.

Finally, let’s hope we can create stem cells from other reprogrammed cells so the embryo debate can be over (Newsweek’s most recent article).

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