Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ice bucket murder

The hate group with a friendly name is back with a ridiculous statement. According to the American Family Association, the ALS ice bucket challenge videos we've all been seeing actually promote murder. Yeah... You can't make up this level of crazy.

So you must be asking how videos of people dumping buckets of ice water over their head could possibly be a promotion for murder, and the murder of babies no less. Their problem lies with the use of stem cell research to try and find a cure. The twisted logic being used by the AFA is that the ice bucket challenge is causing people to donate and promote the ALS association. They are in turn using those donations to help fund research for a cure. One of those fields of research is stem cell research. And therein lies their problem. They think that stem cell research equals murder.

They ignore the fact that stem cells are by far one of the most exciting  and promising fields in medical research. They have returned sight to the blind. They helped cure one patients leukemia, they've been used to grow replacement organs. In short, they've been used to save and change lives. Yet to the AFA this is somehow a horrible field of study.

This is because they get hung up on the use of embryonic stem cells. They believe in the strange belief that an embryo is already a full human and that harvesting it for stem cells is murder. Almost every single opponent of stem cell research I've ever met turns out to be oblivious to the fact that embryonic stem cells are not the only kinds of stem cells.

Embryonic stem cells are the easiest stem cells to harvest, but they aren't the only kind. Stem cells can also come from adults. The leukemia patient that I mentioned received his stem cells from the bone marrow of the donor. It is more difficult, but adult cells have been coxed into becoming stem cells in the lab.

Stem cells can also come from the umbilical cord blood. New parents can now decide to donate their umbilical blood to stem cell research. There are also women that would like to donate their unused eggs to this potentially life-saving research. If they are finished having kids and those eggs will just end up being flushed down the toilet each month, how is that a problem for even the most rabid pro-lifer? An egg can be literally flushed down the drain, or it could be fertilized in a lab and be harvested for stem cells in 4-5 days time.

This illustrates the problem with the AFA's argument even if you were to grant their absurd notion that stem cell research ends a life. Almost all embryonic stem cells used in research come from eggs from in vitro fertilization centers. When IVF is done a collection of the mother's eggs are mixed with sperm and allowed to fertilize. After 4-5 days the eggs are now a collection of about 100 cells that is smaller that the dot on this 'i'. Some of these are implanted in the mother, and the rest are stored in a freezer. After the IVF results in birth, and the family has decided that they are finished having kids, there is a choice to make. Their choices may be as follows:

•Keep paying for them to remain frozen indefinitely
•Allow them to be defrosted/destroyed
•Donate them for adoption
•Donate them for research

Here we have two options where they will go to waste, one that is rarely used, and one that could potentially save who knows how many lives. Even if one where to donate they to other infertile families there would still be a massive surplus that will be going to waste if stem cell research is opposed. I feel that the choice to donate to research should be clear!

But any way you slice it, the AFA's argument fails. Stem cell research does not promote murder. These cells come from tiny 4-5 day old collections of cells that are almost always destined to become medical waste, umbilical cord blood, or for adult sources. None of them kill a child. But the AFA will continue the promotion of their out there views. I can only hope the their defiance and criticism of the incredibly viral ALS ice bucket challenge will only serve to expose them for the vile group they really are.

-Brain Hulk

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