Monday, April 7, 2008

What does embryonic stem cell research with no restrictions look like?

Perhaps you have seen them on a college or university campus or at the farmer's market -- people circulating petitions to have Michigan's constitution changed to allow the destruction of human embryos in Michigan for stem cell research.

Proponents of embryonic stem cell research in Michigan are pushing this petition drive because they want Michigan researchers to be on the “cutting edge” of embryonic stem cell experiments. The recent announcement out of Britain that scientists there have been able to create cloned embryos by mixing human DNA with the eggs of cows in an attempt to get embryonic stem cells precisely demonstrates that cutting edge.

In hopes of creating embryonic stem cell lines to match the DNA of human patients, British scientists at Newcastle University have resorted to creating cloned hybrid embryos which are part human and part cow. Cow eggs were used for these cloning experiments because researchers have had difficultly obtaining a large enough quantity of human eggs.

Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing said, “The cutting edge of stem cell research in Britain gives us a sneak preview at what unrestricted embryonic stem cell research looks like, and it isn’t pretty. Britain is a disturbing example of what happens when scientists aren’t restricted by solid ethical boundaries. The idea of ‘Can I do this?’ quickly overwhelms any thought of ‘Should I do this?’ This is what happens when respect for human life is discarded so all avenues of stem cell research can be explored.”

Researchers with the North East England Stem Cell Institute “used human eggs from consenting in vitro fertilization patients, but these are in short supply. Animal eggs are considered to be a viable alternative for research.”

Listing said, “There is a reason why Michigan has laws against the destruction of human embryos for research. What is happening at the North East England Stem Cell Institute is a reminder of why guidelines are critical for scientists.”