Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
December 3, 2001
Cranston says don't use embryo stem cells
CHAC seeks protection for embryos
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA — One human being should never be destroyed to help another human being, ethicist Sister Mary Lou Cranston told a House of Commons standing.
Cranston, of St. Joseph's College Ethics Centre in Edmonton, was being questioned by members of a House of Commons standing committee Nov. 26 after presenting a brief on behalf of the Catholic Health Association of Canada.
She said the belief that no person should be killed for the sake of another is not only faith-based but also "a fundamental human perspective."
Cranston added, "We have to be careful that we don't start labelling things 'faith perspective' and (concluding), therefore, that they're only of a certain group of people when there are fundamental human values at stake."
The Commons committee is studying a draft bill that would ban such practices as the creation of embryos solely for research purposes, human cloning, and the sale of human embryos. The committee is expected to submit its report by Christmas.
In its brief, the CHAC noted that one argument for the use of embryos for stem cell research is that there has not been an alternative to the use of embryonic stem cells that offers the potential for developing tissue for therapeutic use.
In recent months, however, "major developments in adult stem cell research have provided evidence that the adult body harbours stem cell populations that may be as good as or better than embryonic stem cells for a variety of the proposed therapeutic goals for stem cell research," it said.
Cranston said advances in understanding how to reprogram adult stem cells would "give rise to significant medical benefits and should obviate the need to use embryos as a source of stem cells." The use of embryonic stem cells in research always kills the embryo.
In urging the government to use caution and restraint in its reproductive technologies bill, the CHAC said, "the scientific imperative, which says that research must proceed as quickly as possible and that the ends justify the means, must be challenged."
The brief was presented as American researchers announced they had created human embryos through cloning. The news highlights the need to prohibit such research in Canada, said the CHAC.
The Royal Commission on Reproductive and Genetic Technologies also spoke out against such research.
In 1993 it found that a number of new reproductive and genetic technologies — including the cloning of human embryos and the creation of embryos for research purposes — "conflicted so sharply with the values espoused by Canadians, and are so potentially harmful to the interests of individuals and society, that they must be prohibited by the federal government under the threat of criminal sanction," the CHAC said.
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