A bill to remove South Dakota’s restrictions against embryonic stem cell research was introduced yesterday in the state senate.
SB 195 would strike from SDCL 34-14 the language prohibiting human embryos from being used for research. The bill was sponsored by Senators Nesselhuf, Adelstein, Nelson, and Turbak Berry and Representatives Engels, Blake, Cutler, Dreyer, Hoffman, Hunhoff (Bernie), McLaughlin, and Street.
We knew this was coming for some time now. Last summer the Argus Leader ran an article about Sanford Health in Sioux Falls under the heading “Sanford eyes stem cell study.”
In that article we read
A new donation from philanthropist T. Denny Sanford will give Sanford Health greater access to embryonic stem cell research, a process that the system’s chief executive, Kelby Krabbenhoft, has expressed an interest in pursuing.
T. Denny Sanford says he will help the San Diego Consortium for Regenerative Medicine come up with matching funds for a planned $115 million stem cell research center in La Jolla, Calif. Sanford hasn’t said how much he plans to give. The donation has not been formally announced. But the San Diego Union-Tribune reported this month that an “out-of-state philanthropist,” whom the consortium has declined to identify, has pledged $30 million, with $10 million paid up-front and the remainder in $2 million annual installments.
A subheading in that article gave us the real thrust of the article: “Ban might limit ability to attract leading scientists to state”
That’s what we hear frequently when someone wants to advance some pseudo-scientific pursuit that pushes or clearly steps beyond moral boundaries: we’re missing opportunities to get smart people (and big dollars) to come to South Dakota because of our “antiquated” laws and sensibilities.
As is often the case, those “antiquated” laws are there for a reason.
Embryonic stem cell research involves the destruction of innocent human life for the pursuit of unproven medical cures. Human embryos must be destroyed in order to perform the required research.
However, this destruction of human life is being done without a single success to lend credibility to the pursuit. While adult stem cell therapy (more on that in a minute) has produced about 80 successful therapies, embryonic stem cell research has not produced a single cure.
What’s more, embryonic stem cell research done to date has not been promising for another reason: rejection. Unlike adult stem cell therapies that come from a patients own cells, embryonic stem cells come from another person (the dead human embryo). Just as organ transplants have to deal with the body’s automatic rejection of the foreign tissue, so embryonic stem cells tend to be rejected by the patients body.
Embryonic stem cells also have a tendency to cause tumors in the recipient. This is not a good tradeoff: even if a workable therapy can be developed, and even if a patient can get past the rejection factor, they could get a tumor in exchange for anything the therapy might cure.
Adult stem cell therapy, on the other hand, uses stem cells from a healthy part of the adult patients own body. Adult stem cells can be harvested from body fat, dental tissue, nasal tissue, testicular tissue and other locations. This eliminates the necessity for the destruction of innocent human life, and also overcomes the tissue rejection factor. Also, tumors are not a factor as with embryonic stem cell transplants.
Currently there are dozens of cures and therapies from adult stem cell research, including treatments for meningitis-related limb damage, brain injury, stroke, retina regeneration, heart tissue regeneration, angina, diabetes, bone cancer, nerve regeneration, cerebral palsy, cartilage regeneration, Parkinsons, kidney damage, liver cancer, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and leukemia. The number of successful therapies is somewhere around 80.
I had the pleasure of meeting a recipient of adult stem cell therapy a few months ago.
I met Carol Franz last September at the Values Voter Summit in Washington D.C. A friend and I were hopping into the elevator at the Washington Hilton when she got in with us.
Right away I noticed the “Survivor: Adult Stem Cell Transplant” shirt she was wearing. I told her that I have been following the stem cell research debate for a number of years and have written about it many times. I asked her about her story and she told me a little during our elevator ride and as we walked down the hall. She told me I could use anything I’d like from her website in any future articles.
Carol is a two-time survivor of multiple myeloma cancer, a blood cancer. Both times adult stem cell therapy has brought her back from the brink.
This is an excerpt from her story on her website:
May 2003 I was hospitalized in Syracuse University Hospital. I was given a massive dose of chemo that lasted 15 minutes. I lay in my sterile room for 5 days for the chemo to leave my body and then I was given my adult stem cells back through the catheter in my chest. This procedure only lasted 15 minutes. I was hospitalized for 3 weeks and monitored constantly to be sure my blood and organs were alright. I was “reborn” on May 20, 2003. The adult stem cells traveled to the core of my bones and begun growing me a new immune system and blood. About 6 weeks later the catheter was removed. I took medicines for a few months to help me recover with the transplant.
Two months after my adult stem cell transplant I was feeling “normal” and began taking long walks, dancing and traveling. For one year I had dietary restrictions and was told to avoid crowds, infectious people, small children, pets, earth, plants or anything that may have the ability to make me ill. Six months after the transplant my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes were back to normal except for the color of my hair.
As you can see from these before and after pictures of Carol–which she also displays on the business card she gave me–adult stem cell therapy has made a tremendous difference in her life. She told me that she was not far from death when she received her first round of therapy. Now, she’s healthy, vibrant and energetic.
She is a living testimony to the wonderful success adult stem cell therapy is already enjoying.
Chris Hupke, Executive Director of the South Dakota Family Policy Council, is concerned about SB 195 and the damage it could do.
“A lot of people have worked over the years to give us good legislation with regard to embryonic stem cell research,” said Hupke. “This would gut everything.”
“We don’t know just where this is coming from, but there was talk in the Argus Leader several months ago about Sanford Health and embryonic stem cell research,” said Hupke. “The article pointed out that South Dakota’s existing laws would be an obstacle to embryonic stem cell research.”
Hupke also stated: “There hasn’t been one medical cure from embryonic stem cell research.”
Science indicates that the human embryo has human DNA from the moment of conception; not generic DNA, not plant DNA, not fish DNA, but human DNA.
Science indicates that this human DNA is unique, unlike that of any other human being on earth–including the mother and father from which it came. If the human embryo has DNA separate and distinct from mother and father and any other human being, then scientifically it is not a part of another human being’s body and thus something they have a right to dispose of as they please.
Science indicates this human embryo with unique human DNA has all the genetic information it will ever need for the rest of its life; it is genetically complete. All that remains is developmental time, which will not be complete until adulthood.
According to what science tells us, the human embryo is a separate and distinct, unique and genetically complete human being.
No one can argue that working toward medical cures is a noble pursuit. Human life is sacred, created in the image of God, and everything possible should be done to preserve innocent human life.
But we cannot abandon our humanity in the effort to save human life. The destruction of innocent human life is too high a price to pay for medical advances. After World War II, the Allies shied away from medical information gained by the Nazis during their ghastly experiments on human beings.
Thankfully, we don’t have to abandon our efforts to save human life through stem cell research. Adult stem cell therapy is already producing dozens of cures for all sorts of illnesses.
South Dakota: we don’t need to sell our souls on an altar of empty promises and financial gain. Let’s stick with the principles that make our state a wholesome place to live.