2-3 page essay

Stem -cell Research: Perils and Promise — Destroy an Embryo, Waste a L ife Floor Argument Presented b y U.S. Rep. Christopher H. Smith The debate over stem -cell research has a face and a name. Hannah Strege is a happy 2 1/2 -year -old girl. By all accounts, she is a normal, healthy toddler discovering the joy of life. In a few days I hope to meet Hannah, and when I do, I will reassure her t hat there is no such thing as a spare or leftover person. Although she may not yet understand what that means, her parents sure do. They understand perfectly because Hannah used to be a frozen embryo in an In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) clinic. She was what those who support embryonic stem -cell research – research that destroys such human embryos – callously call spare and leftover. But Hannah is neither spare nor leftover, even though she spent a considerable time in a deep -freeze tank that served as her fro zen orphanage. She could have been fodder for researchers, but instead today she is talking a blue streak. And according to the Snowflakes program (www.snowflakes.org), which arranged for Hannah to be adopted as an embryo, there are between 11,000 and 22,0 00 similar children today who could be placed for adoption with any one of the 2 million infertile couples waiting to begin families of their own. The story of Hannah and other adopted embryos underscores why we should not spend federal taxpayer dollars to destroy human embryos to steal their precious stem cells. These cells are not ours to take. And given the breathtaking discoveries from adult stem -cell research, which does not rely on destroying human embryos, arguments for federally funding embryonic st em -cell research are less persuasive than ever. In just the past few months, several dramatic breakthroughs have been reported by the New England Journal of Medicine and others validating the promise of adult stem -cell research. Donald Orlic of the Nationa l Human Genome Research Institute recently said that “we are currently finding that these adult stem cells can function as well, perhaps even better than, embryonic stem cells.” Unlike embryonic stem cells, which have never been used in any clinical applic ations, adult stem cells are today helping to treat numerous conditions, including brain tumors, ovarian cancer, leukemia, breast cancer, non -Hodgkin’s lymphoma, autoimmune diseases, stroke, anemia, blood and liver disease. I have introduced legislation to expand federal funding for adult stem -cell research because it already holds the promise of saving lives without destroying lives. Recent studies have shown, furthermore, that adult stem cells have the exciting potential to treat diabetes, spinal cord inj uries, muscular dystrophy, blindness, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and glaucoma, as well as to repair or replace organs and tissues. In view of this growing body of evidence supporting adult stem -cell research, the only way to justify federal funding for embr yonic stem -cell research is to take the position that a human embryo has no value – none, zero, less than the dot above the i on this piece of paper. Now that medical advances have clearly demonstrated that adult stem cells are a legitimate alternative to research that destroys human embryos, the only way to justify embryo -destructive work is to assert that Hannah has no value at all. For all of our sakes, I hope that ethics do matter in this debate. I hope that we can all agree that human embryos have inna te value. Once we determine that any human life can be destroyed in the name of science, all life is devalued. Too many cultures and societies have believed it acceptable to sacrifice the few, the weak, and the vulnerable for the benefit of the strong and the many. But experience and ethics dictate that it is unacceptable to destroy one life for the potential benefit of others, particularly when there are legitimate alternatives. Adult stem -cell research is scientifically justified, ethically responsible an d morally acceptable. Embryonic stem cell research is not. No child is spare or leftover, and the weak and the vulnerable will always need someone to speak for them. We must speak for them, and for Hannah. U.S. Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R., Fourth Distric t) represents central New Jersey.

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