Sunday, March 30, 2008

Life, Research & Ethics

There's been a fair bit of coverage in the media recently of the proposals going before Parliament on embryo research. Those in favour of allowing such moves claim that we need to do this in order to find cures for diseases such as Parkinsons and Alzheimers. I have loads of sympathy with the sufferers of such diseases and their families. My own father suffered from both, living out his final year in hospital because there were no homes able to cope with Alzheimer's in the area at the time. His deterioration was heartbreaking for all the family and we will always be grateful to those nursing staff who did manage to show compassion and understanding to us during those months.
I spent yesterday visiting our daughter and her family, including the unborn but very active new grandchild. It was wonderful to be able to spend time with them, looking forward to the birth and enjoying the antics of their toddler daughter.
Then today, food for thought at church as a spokesperson for Life told of some of their work with men and women facing the trauma of life after abortion or unplanned, difficult and distressing pregnancies. She gave statistics on how many treatments for illnesses have resulted from Adult Stem Cell research, stem cells freely donated by people who can make that choice compared to those which have resulted from Foetal Stem Cell and embryo research. Over 70 conditions over the past 50 years from the former, including leukaemia being treated by bone marrow transplants, but none from the latter. Yet when the arguments for more and more leeway on the type of research allowed are advanced the successes of Adult Stem Cell therapies don't seem to make it into print. I don't take everything that someone tells me as gospel truth, but I do like to be given both sides of an argument and allowed to make up my own mind. Today made me wonder if we're being misled by some campaigners.
Of course, the question of when the embryo becomes a living being with a soul is one for a place other than a political blog! Worth pondering though - are we more than just a collection of cells?, more than an animal that's learnt to talk and walk upright?
At times like this I'm profoundly glad that Stockton Borough Council doesn't have to make these laws. We have enough problems trying to work out whether to expand the youth services or spend the money on vulnerable adults or roads or ......!

No comments: