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The Truth About Stem Cell Research
The Florida Catholic Conference ^ | October 28, 2004 | Fr. Alfred Cioffi

Posted on 05/26/2005 1:15:50 AM PDT by

                                                                                             > >

October 28, 2004

The Truth About Stem Cell Research
By Fr. Alfred Cioffi, The Florida Catholic

Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk is not your typical priest.  With a doctorate in neuroscience from Yale and having done post-doctoral research at Massachusetts General Hospital, connected to Harvard Medical School, Father Tad, as he’s known, is one of the church’s top bioethicists.

In Orlando for the Catholic Medical Association’s national conference, the Fall River priest, who serves as director for the National Catholic Bioethics Center, shared insights into the myths and realities of embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning, and in vitro fertilization and why the church has taken such a strong stand against such practices.

He outlined 10 great media myths in the debate over stem-cell research.

Myth 1—Stem cells come only from embryos

Father Pacholczyk said people must understand what stem cells are—cells that are differentiated based on what human tissue they are taken from.  The body has 220 different stem-cell types that can be extracted from nearly every part of the body, including eyes, spinal cord, blood, brain, skin, and muscle.  In most cases, stem cells can be extracted without harming the individual.

The goal of stem-cell research in general is to generate new cells in the laboratory that can be put back into a person’s body and hopefully take over for dying tissue or cells affected by the disease.  Bone-marrow transplants, for example, utilize stem cells.

Myth 2—The church is against stem-cell research

Father Pacholczyk said the church supports stem-cell research in most cases.  “There are ethical concerns depending on the source of the stem cells,” he explained.  The church has no problems with stem cell research when the stem cells are taken from adults, umbilical cords, or miscarriages.  Stem cells from miscarriages are known as embryonic germ cells.

But the church is against standard embryonic stem-cell research.  Why?

“Embryonic stem cells come from embryos that are about five to seven days old,” he explained.  He added that their use is being pushed among some researchers because the cells are thought to be more flexible and not committed to a particular cell type and hypothetically could be manipulated in the laboratory to become any type of tissue in the body.  The only way to extract the stem cells located in the inner cell mass of the embryo which eventually becomes the baby, is to extract it violently from the embryo, thus killing it.

Myth 3—Embryonic stem-cell research show the most promise

Father Pacholcyzk outlined some 98 different diseases that can be treated using umbilical cord and adult stem cells.  Research using adult stem cells is 20 to 30 years ahead of embryonic stem cell research and actually holds greater promise.  Currently, there is no scientific evidence where embryonic stem cells have been used successfully in animal trials.

“They’ve found that in the research that has been done that embryonic stem cells actually end up generating tumors in the animals and do not assimilate into the body,” the priest said.  “The embryonic stem cells are so energetic that they are hard to control and manipulate.”

Myth 4—Embryonic stem-cell research is against the law

There is currently no law or regulation against destroying human embryos for research purposes, the priest said.  While President George W. Bush banned the use of federal funding to support research on embryonic stem cells created after August 2001, it is not illegal.  Anyone using private funds is free to pursue it.

Myth 5—President Bush created new restrictions to federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research

Father Pacholcyzk said that in 1996, under President Bill Clinton, the Dickey Amendment prohibited the use of federal funds that would involve the destruction of embryos.  “President Bush’s decision actually liberalized the law and permitted (federal) research on embryonic stem cell lines created before a certain date,” he said. 

Myth 6—Therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning are fundamentally different 

Father Pacholczyk said that both cloning practices are basically the same, the difference lies in the purpose for each. 

“One creates an embryo to be used for research purposes, the other creates an embryo for having a baby,” he said.  “You use the same steps for each.” 

Using himself as an example, Father Pacholczyk, 40, outlined the reproductive cloning process.  Using a piece of his hair with the root and cells still attached and a woman’s donated egg with the DHA extracted, scientists could force the DNA nucleus from the hair into the egg using an electrical charge, he said.  An early human embryo begins to develop.  “It doesn’t go any further until it’s put into the woman’s uterus at which point it would create my exact twin, but 40 years younger,” he said.  The science is still unstable, he said, and usually never works.  “It took 230 attempts for us to get Dolly,” he said, referring to the first-ever cloned sheep.  “There is a high rate of abnormalities and most die during gestation and right after birth. Cloning primates is particularly difficult.” 

Therapeutic cloning is cloning for tissue research.  The procedure is the same until after the human embryo begins to develop.  Rather than placing it in the uterus, it is destroyed.  “The tissue wouldn’t come from me but from my twin,” Father Pacholczyk said. 

Neither practice is condoned by the church.  “With therapeutic cloning, it’s creating twins to be streamlined for parts,” he said.  “Reproductive cloning takes something that is a private and natural gift between a husband and wife and makes it a scientific process.” 

Myth 7—Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is different from cloning 

In some news programs, Father Pacholcyzk said scientists have made the claim that somatic cell nuclear transfer isn’t the same as cloning.  “You’re taking the nucleus from the cell and transferring it into the egg,” he said.  “It’s the same thing as cloning.” 

Myth 8—By doing SCNT, we can directly produce tissues or organs without having to clone an embryo 

“In current research, we cannot make tissues and organs directly,” the priest said.  “We must always first clone an embryo and then destroy it for tissue.” 

Myth 9—Every body cell, or somatic cell, is somehow an embryo and thus a human life 

Father Pacholcyzk said some people argue that every cell in the body has the potential to become an embryo so does that mean every time we wash our hands and are shedding thousands of cells we are killing life? 

Father Pacholcyzk said such an argument overlooks the basic difference between a regular body cell and one whose nuclear material has been fused with an unfertilized egg cell resulting in an embryo.  “Skin cells will give rise to more skin cells when it divides, while an embryo will give rise to the entire adult organism,” he said.  “Only embryos are potential adults.” 

Myth 10—Because frozen embryos may one day end up being discarded by somebody that makes it allowable, even laudable, to violate and destroy those embryos 

“Embryonic inviolability doesn’t hinge on whether the embryo is trapped in liquid nitrogen or not,” said Father Pacholcyzk, referring to the process in which embryos are frozen for use in in vitro fertilization. 

 A brochure the priest gave out compared such an action as comparable to “children permanently trapped in a schoolhouse through no fault of their own; that would not make it morally acceptable to send in a remote control robotic device which would harvest organs from those children and cause their demise.”


The Florida Catholic Conference
P.O. Box 1677 * Tallahassee, FL * 32302-1677
Phone (850) 222-3803 * Fax (850) 681-9548

TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: cary; frtad; prolife; stemcellresearch; stemcells
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To: verity; backhoe
Saddam was God's own idea? How preposterous!

Certainly. Saddam had a great deal to say in how he turned out, however.

21 posted on 05/26/2005 7:29:14 AM PDT by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: Gipper08

I only started reading Ron Paul in earnest a year or two ago. I do suppose he is such a Constitutionalist (as if that was a bad thing) that the moderates that run the GOP would never allow his nomination. I think they'd fight hard against him as VP to boot. I've been told Newt tried to help defeat him way back.
22 posted on 05/26/2005 7:43:29 AM PDT by (Abortion is the Choice of Satan, the father of lies and a MURDERER from the beginning.)
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To: Fam4Bush


23 posted on 05/26/2005 7:47:49 AM PDT by null and void (Embrace diseased aliens! It's the progressive thing to do...)
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To: eleni121


24 posted on 05/26/2005 7:49:30 AM PDT by null and void (Embrace diseased aliens! It's the progressive thing to do...)
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To: null and void

thanks for the ping, nully...i like the article. it supports what i have to say.

25 posted on 05/26/2005 10:26:33 AM PDT by Fam4Bush (NO ONE BUYS......NEWSWEEK DIES)
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To: Fam4Bush

Yeah. I hate to bring facts to a good argument...

26 posted on 05/26/2005 10:29:39 AM PDT by null and void (Embrace diseased aliens! It's the progressive thing to do...)
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To: null and void

Who's arguing? I'm simply disagreeing. :)

27 posted on 05/26/2005 10:42:38 AM PDT by Fam4Bush (Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.)
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To:; Kolokotronis

May I add the Orthodox Church's stance on fetal cell exploitation...very similar to the Catholic POV:

28 posted on 05/26/2005 1:07:07 PM PDT by eleni121 ('Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!' (Julian the Apostate))
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To:; 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember; afraidfortherepublic; Alas; al_c; american colleen; ...
Cutting Through the Spin on Stem Cells and Cloning,  Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D. [RealPlayer video, 1 hr. 20 mins.] 

29 posted on 05/26/2005 1:55:02 PM PDT by Coleus (Roe v. Wade and Endangered Species Act both passed in 1973, Murder Babies/save trees, birds, algae)
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To: 2nd amendment mama; A2J; Agitate; Alouette; Annie03; aposiopetic; attagirl; axel f; Balto_Boy; ...
Awesome resource here.

ProLife Ping!

If anyone wants on or off my ProLife Ping List, please notify me here or by freepmail.

30 posted on 05/26/2005 2:04:04 PM PDT by Mr. Silverback (The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single cup of coffee.)
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A niece sent me this link last week. The PDF file is really excellent and has the photo listed above in color. It is a 16 page explanation and easy to understand-even for me!


31 posted on 05/26/2005 2:21:49 PM PDT by Frank Sheed
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They just don't want reality.

They'd rather kill potential human beings.
32 posted on 05/26/2005 3:58:14 PM PDT by nmh (Intelligent people recognize Intelligent Design (God).)
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To: All

Just one more source about Dr. Lima's great work.

Dr. Carlos Lima at the Egas Moniz Hospital in Lisbon, Portugal, who has been treating spinal cord injuries using the patient's own adult stem cells.

33 posted on 05/26/2005 10:41:18 PM PDT by Sun (Call the U.S. SELL-OUT senators toll-free, 1-877-762-8762 & give 'em "heck.")
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To: Frank Sheed

Thanks Frank!

Just downloaded and will read ASAP. Archived in Pro-Life folder.


34 posted on 05/27/2005 12:11:04 AM PDT by (Abortion is the Choice of Satan, the father of lies and a MURDERER from the beginning.)
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From an email:

***ACTION ALERT*** Saturday, May 28, 2005

Romney delivers on promise to veto stem cell bill

By Theo Emery, Associated Press Writer | May 27, 2005

BOSTON -- Gov. Mitt Romney vetoed a bill Friday that would expand embryonic stem cell research in Massachusetts, but the measure has more than enough support in the Legislature to override the governor's veto.

The House and Senate passed the bill with veto-proof margins, and both chambers were expected to vote next week to override the veto.

Read full article...

You must encourage your fellow parishoners (family, friends) to contact their legislators by calling the State House switchboard at 617-722-2000 or by e-mailing your state senator (click here)and state representative (click here), urging them to support the Governor's final veto before a vote (likely Tuesday, May 31st) and this legislation becomes law!

To find your elected officials:

See: Timeline (including Roll Call Votes) -- What's Happened So Far


Additional Resources:

35 posted on 05/28/2005 8:04:48 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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