Friday, October 27, 2006

A Definitive No

Controversy alert. This post deals with a subject that has raised heated arguments across the political field lately. However, my post isn't politically motivated, but personally motivated. I don't expect everyone to agree with me, but figured I should bring it up. This is, after all, my blog.

I don't support the ADA. I also don't support the JDRF. Kind of odd, considering I've lived with diabetes for most of my life. These organizations do a lot of good, I don't deny that. Yet there is one very strong reason I can't, in good faith, lend my financial support their way. Quite simply, it comes down to embryonic stem cell research.

Both organizations support it. I even called to find out if they financed such research, and the answer was a definitive yes. Which means my support is a definitive no.

I suppose if you don't share my views on "life begins at conception", then you don't see the issue. But for me, life begins at conception. Which means that embryonic stem cell research in any form is destroying one life to potentially benefit another. If you want to understand how it feels to me, consider this: if the issue were dealing with killing a newborn baby rather than an embryo, would it seem reasonable to say, "This baby's life isn't as valuable as the millions who might benefit from it's death."

Perhaps to you it isn't the same thing. But to the millions of people in this country vehemently opposed to embryonic stem cell research, that's exactly what it is. It isn't a matter of pushing our religious views on society, or taking a political position (although, granted, I'm sure there are some out there where that is the case). For me, and those like me, it is about saving a life.

Thing is, to date, all this talk about embryonic stem cell research is just that: talk. There have been no therapeutic advances made. Yes, part of that is due to lack of funding. But part of that is because progress is being made in adult stem cell research.

For whatever reason, that seems to be lost in the debate. Because today, there are treatments that make use of adult stem cells, and I'm constantly reading about new advances in adult stell cells which are showing them to be far more flexible than once believed. They may be harder to work with, but progress is being made.

If funds start going to embryonic stem cell research, then funds will be taken away from the adult stem cell research. That would be a shame, because there are actually reasons why adult stem cells might be the better route. One major reason has to do with rejection. If there is a way to harvest a person's own stem cells and use them for treatment, then you have eliminated a major hurdle in any kind of treatment. The body rejects foreign substances. If I were to be treated with cells derived from someone else, then my body will very likely attack those cells. Which means I would then need to be placed on anti-rejection medicine for the rest of my life, which has a host of health implications itself.

But I digress. Because I don't mean to go into all the benefits of adult stem cells versus embryonic, or vice versa...because ultimately, for me, it doesn't matter. What matters is the life that is ultimately destroyed.

As a diabetic, someone who theoretically could be cured by embryonic stem cell research, I just don't want it. I'd rather live my life out with all the risks of complications. I'd no more ask for a cure from an embryo than I'd ask some baby to die so that I could live a healthier life.

I honestly don't have ill feelings towards people like Michael J. Fox, who wants to return to a normal life, and so sees the embryonic stem cell research as their only hope. It isn't their only hope, of course...but I understand their position. But there are many, like myself, who also suffer from diseases, who don't want that kind of research done.

So, for me, that means foregoing support for ADA and JDRF.

I half expect there to be responses to this trying to "educate me" on the subject. Go ahead. But I'll just state that I'm not at all uneducated. I've read both sides of the debate quite exhaustively in the past several years, following advances, etc. So, talk amongst yourselves, if you want. I just wanted to clear the air on this, and make it clear that for a great many people, the "stem cell issue" is not at all important thing to realize in this politically-charged time.


LadyBronco said...

Bravo, for taking a stance, and backing it with an educational tone, rather than an uninformed, attacking tone. I also have a problem with embryonic stem cell research, but I have to say, I had no idea that adult stem cells are proving to be more flexible than previously believed. I personally do not suffer from any disease, but I cannot even begin to fathom what it would be like to see a probable cure being dangled in front of me, but having that cure be something that goes against my own personal beliefs. Good luck to you.

Martha O'Connor said...

You can earmark the check for JDRF NOT to go to stem cell research. Seems a shame to cut them off completely, since they explore many areas of research. IMHO :)

Martha O'Connor said...

Oh, the other thing I wanted to say, is if the JDRF/ADA organisations completely turn you off, you could donate to the Children with Diabetes foundation instead. They get supplies and so forth to children who cannot afford it, and also fund research.... NONE of which is ESCR. So, you may wish to check them out.

Martha O'Connor said...

Triple-dipping here...

This is directly from the CWD foundation site:

The Children With Diabetes Foundation funds research to cure diabetes in those currently suffering through normalization of blood glucose levels with emphasis on clinical biomechanical (the goal is a closed loop system) and bioartificial studies (the goal is to provide cells which can provide insulin in response to glucose in a physiologically relevant manner). Examples include:

improved blood glucose monitoring if it is continuous, alarmable and accurate
promising islet cell replacement strategies which are not morally divisive.

Click here to view our research updates

We do not fund Type II research, prevention of complications studies, or studies which rely on embryonic, fetal or cloning research as we feel adequate funding is already allocated in those areas.

Rick Langel said...

JDRF has 6 major funding initiatives, of which stem cells is just one. You can specifically donate to one of the other 5 initiatives, such as the continuous glucose monitor project.