Stem Cell Research is Not a Moral Issue

Rant ahead. You've been warned.

Today, W vetoed the embryonic stem cell bill that would have loosened the restrictions he placed on this research five years ago. This bill was passed by the Republican-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate. It enjoyed overwhelming cross-party support, and 72% of Americans are in favor of embryonic stem cell research. But according to this article, Bush apparently felt "honor-bound" (whatever the hell that means) to veto the bill.

For those of you who don't know, stem cells are extracted from frozen embryos created via IVF. The drugs you take during an IVF cycle cause most women to go into super-ovulation. That is, they produce 10, 15, or even more eggs, and the ones that are the best quality are injected with sperm. The best of the best are then transferred to the woman, and the remaining surviving embryos are frozen for later use in FET (frozen embryo transfer cycles). I have four such "frosties" waiting for me at my clinic. This bill would have allowed people who have completed their families via IVF to donate their extra embryos for research purposes to cure such diseases as Parkinson's and Alzeheimer's, and to help those with spinal cord injuries.

Otherwise, guess what happens to the embryos? They're thrown out. Unless the couple wants to donate them to another couple going through infertility treatment.

So, according to W, it's A-okay to toss the frozen embryos into the trash, where they'll help no one and serve no purpose, but it's absolutely amoral and a sacrilege to put them to good use to potentially save millions of people's lives via research. Does anyone else see a huge problem with this?

W and his ilk claim "all life is sacred" and that "no one should get to determine that one life is more valuable than another" (unless you happen to be an inmate on death row, apparently, but that's a W hypocrisy for another post). But I think the apocalypse is near, because I agree with Orrin Hatch (Orrin Hatch!) when he says that embryonic stem cell research "aids the living, which is one of the most pro-life positions you can take."

I have a grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer's. Rich's grandmother has Parkinson's. Stem cell research has the potential to directly benefit the ones I love, and I bet a vast majority of Americans can say the same. And can even the most evangelical Christian out there honestly say they wouldn't want to do everything medically possible to save their mother with MS or their grandma with Parkinson's?

So for me it comes down to this. If Rich and I are lucky enough to have the two children we want, and we have two frosties left over, we will be donating them to stem cell research. End of story. I don't think I could donate them to another infertile couple, much as I love the idea of embryo donation, because for me it would just be too difficult to have a child biologically ours out there in the world who will never know who his or her biological parents are. And I wouldn't want them thrown away, which is the only other option.

So let's hear it. Where do you stand on this issue? And what do you think of the Bush veto?

17 Responses to “Stem Cell Research is Not a Moral Issue”

  1. # Anonymous Anonymous

    You rock. Love your blog.  

  2. # Blogger Hopeful Mother

    We signed consent forms during our IVF that we would donate any unused embryos to research (basically, once we decide to stop paying the storage fee or notify them in writing).

    We have 1 embryo "in the freezer" right now.

    I don't know what organization the clinic uses to match them with a research group, but I feel this is the best I can do. We could never donate them to another couple (for the same reasons you state), and simply letting them thaw and die seems like a waste, even if nothing comes out of the research just yet. You have to start somewhere.

    You're right, the logic is not there. If they want to ban "killing" embryos altogether, they shouldn't let people dispose of them either.  

  3. # Blogger Christy

    I wish they'd be used for stem cell research. Why don't they ask the women who are donating the eggs they don't want to use if they'd like to put them towards research? Or throw them away?

    Shouldn't it be the choice of the family what happens to the extra eggs?

    I'm for stem cell research, if it will help people later on, then go for it. But on the other hand...kind of creepy to think that your kid will be dissected apart too.  

  4. # Anonymous sher

    Great rant. I support stem cell research--and I also totally expected this from Bush.  

  5. # Blogger l

    GAH! I saw a bumper sticker the other day that read "Abort Bush". Oh, how I wish. And ORRIN HATCH? When did he get a clue? He's right, though - supporting stem cell research to benefit the living is as pro-life as you can get. I'm so sick of the lack of separation between church and state. No wonder we're percieved as a nation of hypocrites.  

  6. # Blogger Christine

    The logic behind the veto isn't there. But this is BUSH. The logic is never there.

    It always saddens me that as a country we are huge, and vast, and "leaders," and supposedly smart, and yet this is the yahoo we have as our president. How? just how?  

  7. # Blogger M

    I don't know what I think about it honestly. I didn't have left over embryos. But, if I did, M and I decided we would use them ALL for in vitro-- if that meant having 5 kids-- then that's what would have happened.
    I also don't know what I believe about when life begins. So, this is a toughy for me.  

  8. # Blogger Binulatti

    When history makes it indisputable that W was the absolute worst president this country has ever had, this great injustice will be logged with Iraq, denial of gay marriage, global warming ignorance, Katrina, and on and on and on. I guess when "re-election" (re-appointation, re-ballot manipulation) is no longer a concern, he really doesn't have to care how low his approval rating goes.  

  9. # Blogger spark

    Completely agree! Unfortunately it's not too surprising coming from him...  

  10. # Blogger Kristi

    Anonymous-Thanks! :)

    Hopeful Mother-You're exactly right. You're "killing" them either way, except one way has the potential to save millions of human lives.

    christy-I agree. Isn't it MY choice what happens to MY eggs?

    Sher-As did I, unfortunately.

    L-Great bumper sticker. And hypocrites? Whatever do you mean? LOL.

    Christine-Yup. He's our fearless leader. No wonder other nations laugh at us.

    M-Wow. I give you a lot of credit for that. I don't think I could go through multiple FET cycles to use up all my "frosties" (if I had more than the 4 I actually have). It is a slipery slope of when life begins, but I believe frosties have the "potential" for life, because without implantation, they cannot survive.


    Spark-Thanks for stopping by. And you're right. Completely unsurprising.  

  11. # Blogger The Princess

    Found you through Christy and I just HAD to leave a comment on this post.

    Evangelical Christian here who is absolutely disgusted with Bush. Heck, I'm probably the only Evangelical Liberal Democrat Christian that I know!

    My father has Mantle Cell Lymphoma. This research could aid in saving his life so you can only imagine how furious this has made me.

    The whole pro-life movement, and any movement whether pro-life or pro-choice, there are always horrible contradictions. People get on their moral high horse and all sense knowledge just flies out the window.  

  12. # Blogger spark

    Oh and I forgot to mention this earlier -- my name is Kristi too! :)  

  13. # Blogger Marie

    This is such a difficult issue! And here I am, late to the party.

    From what I've read, stem cell research has been going on since the 1950s. And research they've done with adult stem cells has led to amazing developments & proves to be very promising. This is why investors have been supporting ASC research. With embryonic research though, they've had no success, which is why investors are not supporting it. The research will continue here and around the world anyway, without our tax dollars.  

  14. # Blogger Kristi

    Princess- I'm so glad to hear that there is such a person as an Evangelical Christian who is also a Liberal! ;) I'm so sorry about your father. Perhaps someday Bush will get his head out of his arse and come to his senses. And thanks for stopping by!

    Spark-Neat. It's definitely an unusual way to spell our name. I know very few who spell it like we do.

    Marie-Hmmm... I was watching the news the other night, and it was reported that they've made great strides in helping paralysis in animals as a result of embryonic stem cell research, and that there are so few strains of adult stem cells that can actually help anyone. Time will tell, I guess.  

  15. # Blogger Beagle

    You'll be glad to know that the Terminator is on your side.

    I just used my 2 and only frosties, but if I had been blessed with many spares, I would have wanted some good to come of them.

    I wish embryo donation would become more mainstream. It's a great family building option.

    I also wish the bureaucrats would see stem cell research for what it is: a life saving medical advance, not a murderous one.

    But neverhaving to face the choice I guess I can't *really* say what I would do IRL.

    Hopeful mother put it well though . . . "If they want to ban "killing" embryos altogether, they shouldn't let people dispose of them either."  

  16. # Blogger annelynn

    This issue infuriated me as well. I heard David Dreier (R-California) on NPR this morning, talking about what he thinks about the issue. He has a brother with Parkinson's, so presumably his words are supposed to carry more weight. At any rate, he had the gall to compare the men of the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis studies with - you guessed it - frozen morulas or blastocysts. Yes, really. Fully realized human males who were abused by our medical establishment - compared to a ball of undifferentiated cells. I'm sorry, but that's just absurd. And insulting to the memory of those men.

    Yes, I know that the ball of cells may ultimately become a human being - but as often as not, development ceases and the embryo dies - both in cases of IVF and in non-IVF pregnancies. Presently, there is no way to predict whether or not an embryo will absolutely survive.

    ANYHOW... It infuriates me that these people would rather throw these embryos in the trash than use them to promote existing human life. It seems to me that such use honors these embryos far more than would ending up as "medical waste." It makes me sick to think about it.

    One more point (sorry for taking over your comment section, Kristi!) - I despise the term "Snowflake Babies."

    That is all.  

  17. # Anonymous Anonymous
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    IVF and girl/boy twins born in October 2008 following FET. Come along as I document the search for my lost intellect. It's a bumpy ride. Consider yourself warned.

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