Update on Embryo-Destructive Research: Legislation Developments in the US and Abroad

embryo.jpgWASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 25, 2011 (Zenit.org).- You might recall that last summer a federal judge put a temporary hold on all government funding for human embryonic stem cell research (hESC) in the United States.

In August 2010, Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia made headlines for halting the research on the grounds that President Barack Obama’s March 2009 executive order revoking the President George Bush restrictions on hESC research was illegal. The president’s order, put into policy by the NIH, freed up money for research upon stem cells derived from spare IVF embryos; but the policy required that the actual destruction of the embryos be funded privately.

The judge said the Obama policy violated the Dickey-Wicker Amendment , which prohibits federal money for research in which human embryos are created or destroyed. Read

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3 Arguments Against IVF: Artificial Reproduction Is Not Procreation

christian_new.jpgWASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 6, 2011 (Zenit.org ).- Here is a question on bioethics asked by a ZENIT reader and answered by the fellows of the Culture of Life Foundation.

Q: The Catholic Church teaches that in vitro fertilization (IVF) is always wrong. I understand this to be the case when embryos are made and destroyed. But my doctor said that IVF could be used in a way that wouldn’t create and destroy "extra" embryos, even though it would lower our chances for a successful pregnancy. If this is true, why is IVF wrong when used by husbands and wives? K.M. — Denver, Colorado

E. Christian Brugger offers the following response:

A: The question rightly identifies the wrongness of creating and destroying (and we should add freezing) human embryos in and through the process of IVF. But even if IVF was chosen only by married couples, and those couples intended to create only as many embryos as they implant, and they rejected the eugenic screening and destruction of disabled embryos, IVF still would be gravely wrong.

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Savior Siblings: At What Moral Cost?

christian.jpgWASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 23, 2011 (Zenit.org ).- Here is a question on bioethics asked by a ZENIT reader and answered by the fellows of the Culture of Life Foundation.

Q: Could you please clarify the concept of a "savior sibling"? Some argue that a child conceived to save his older brother or sister is "conceived to be used." But the child per se is not used at all, only the child’s umbilical cord. Please clarify. Sincerely, D.V.M — Bellflower, California

E. Christian Brugger offers the following response:

A: Lisa Nash, mother of the world’s first "savior sibling," said she would do "anything" to save her daughter’s life.[1] Her daughter Molly was diagnosed at birth (in 1994) with Fanconi Anemia, a serious genetic disorder in which patients can suffer bone marrow failure, birth defects, developmental abnormalities, a heightened risk of leukemia and premature death. Lisa and her husband Jack were told that the best way to help Molly was to give her a blood and marrow transplant from a genetically matched sibling. But Molly was an only child. Her parents had been considering conceiving again, but decided against it because of the high probability — about 25% — that the child would suffer the same illness.

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Surgery in the Womb for Babies with Spina Bifida

william_e_may.jpgSurgery of this kind in the 1980’s
Spina bifida is a developmental congenital disorder caused by the incomplete closing of the embryo’s neural tube. Some verterbrae overlying the spinal cord are not fully formed and remain unfused and open. This can cause long term mental and physical crippling to the child and at times death in the womb due to the build up of fluid and swelling in the brain.

In the 1980s it was possible, using prenatal screening, to detect neural tube anomalies such as spina bifida and then to perform a therapeutic action on the developing unborn child in the womb.  The most common procedure to treat this anomaly was to insert a shunt  into the child’s brain to drain the fluid thus releasing the pressure and providing great benefit to the child’s neurological and physical development.  In fact, at a hearing at the US Senate sometime in the mid 1980’s, sponsored by then pro-life Senator Gordon Humphrey a couple and their physician, with the child—at the time a born baby girl resting on her mother’s  lap—gave testimony in which they described the wonderful surgery that had been done on the child while still in the womb after a prenatal diagnosis had shown that she had suffered from a neural tube defect and that fluids were building up in her cranium, exerting pressure on her brain. This timely intervention was successful in minimizing the harm this girl suffered after birth, and the surgical intervention posed no serious risks either to the child or her mother. The child still needed to have a shunt to remove fluids from her brain after birth, but she did not suffer debilitating mental deficiencies and other symptoms associated with spina bifida.

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