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Stem Cell Debate Tied to Effort to Expand Abortion Rights

  • Stem Cell Debate Tied to Effort to Expand Abortion Rights

  • 19 January 2007 by 0 Comments

Stem Cell Debate Tied to Effort to Expand Abortion Rights
By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 01/19/07

Last week the U.S. Congress passed HR 3 authorizing Federal Funding for embryonic stem cell research and the Senate will take up the issue shortly. The question begging a logical answer is, Why?

Stem cells are primal, unspecialized cells that can renew themselves through cell division. Research into the functionality of stem cells in repairing damaged body parts or curing disease and illness has been conducted since the 1960s but with accelerating success since 1998.

Two major forms of stem cell research have taken center stage, not only scientifically but politically. Embryonic stem cell (ESC) research draws stem cells from a fertilized human egg within the first few weeks of life. To harvest the ESCs the embryos have to be destroyed. Adult stem cells (ASC) come either from adult bone marrow or from an umbilical cord after childbirth, or even recently, amniotic fluid prior to childbirth.

There are no known cures provided by embryonic stem cell research. Currently there are about 94 companies internationally involved in stem cell research. The U.S. companies weren’t federally funded. But they have apparently had no problem raising the venture capital to fund their projects, either from venture capital investors or pharmaceutical companies hoping to someday capitalize on their progress. Currently, using adult stem cells, these companies are working on treatments for 72 diseases and illnesses. Included in that list are brain cancer, ovarian cancer, skin cancer, testicular cancer, leukemia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, stroke damage, and the list goes on.

Again, these are treatments currently under development using adult stem cell research. How many treatments are being developed using embryonic stem cell research? Zero! The only thing they’ve been able to do consistently with ESC is grow tumors in mice.

If ESC research offers so much potential, why isn’t the venture capital flowing to it? Federal funding is apparently the only way to fund ESC research because it doesn’t hold the same promise for curing diseases and providing treatments that ASC research provides.

Just last week, Dr. Anthony Atala of the Institute of Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine issued a statement that stem cells from the amniotic fluid surrounding infants while still in the womb apparently provided the same apparent benefits from a research standpoint that ESCs provided. These stem cells can be extracted without harming the fetus or the mother. If that is the case, there is no need to destroy fertilized embryos through embryonic stem cell research.

Senator Tom Harkin nearly blew a gasket over the release of this information just prior to the House vote on HR 3, apparently fearful that the importance of their debate sans facts might be eclipsed by countering relevant scientific developments. In other words, don’t confuse the debate with the facts, they might get in the way of our agenda.

So what is the agenda? The question again becomes one of “Why ESCs?” I think the old truism of follow the money may provide the answer. It obviously is not a medical or scientific answer. The answer is political in its most insidious form. The groups pushing for ESC research include NARAL, Planned Parenthood, NOW, and a virtual who’s who list of pro-abortion groups.

In light of the successes in ASC research; the dearth of successes in ESC research; and the money flow from an investment standpoint into ASC and the political money flow into ESC, it’s obvious that these groups see ESC research as an extension of abortion rights. It’s not about medical research. It’s not about the cures for Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease, contrary to what he would have us believe from his political ads from last fall. It’s all about extending abortion rights, and having them federally funded.

I’m not an expert in medical research, but even I can tell when nascent research has potential based in large part on how the venture investment money flows to it . And by tracking the political support and opposition to pending legislation, it becomes very clear what the key issues are.

Don’t fall for the superficial slick advertising campaigns or politicians pleas for research “for the children.” This is not about treating diseases, because if it was they would be promoting federal funding of ASC research, not ESC. After all, it’s closest to having some actual cures and treatments.

But it’s a political agenda they’re pursuing. Not only should taxpayer money not be going to embryonic stem cell research from a pragmatic perspective, but ethically we should not be funding it, either.

Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at

About the

More than anything, I want my readers to think. We're told what to think by the education establishment, which is then parroted by politicians from the left, and then reinforced by the mainstream media. Steeped in classical liberalism, my ideological roots are based in the Constitution and our founding documents. Armed with facts, data, and correct principles, today's conservatives can see through the liberal haze and bring clarity to any political discussion.

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