The Garden City Telegram
2/19/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Cell shift

Conservatives push bill that fits their ideology.

Conservative lawmakers want medical research to fit what they consider a pro-life agenda.

To that end, a bill introduced by conservative Republicans in the Kansas Senate would require the University of Kansas Medical Center to establish a stem-cell therapy center that would focus solely on adult stem cells.

Proponents pitch the plan as a way to make Kansas a center for effective medical treatments. While that would be admirable, it looks more like an attempt to downplay promising embryonic stem-cell research at a medical center already involved in work involving adult and embryonic stem cells.

Abortion opponents denounce embryonic stem-cell research because it destroys embryos. But their thinking fails to acknowledge the life-saving potential many scientists see with embryonic cells that have more flexibility than adult stem cells.

Embryonic stem cells are master cells that can develop into all cell types found in the body, which researchers say holds promise for growing replacements for damaged tissue. That could aid sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease, paralysis, heart disease, cancer and other life-threatening ailments.

Attempts to curb embryonic stem-cell research are powered by anti-abortion groups who argue such research destroys life, even though it utilizes frozen embryos eventually discarded by fertility clinics.

In their determination to protect embryos that never would develop into a life, opponents would stand in the way of hope for children and adults victimized by deadly diseases and other debilitating ailments. That’s hardly pro life.

This nation has an obligation to show those who are suffering — and those who already have lost loved ones — a willingness to attack deadly diseases in as many ways as humanly possible. Acknowledging as much, President Obama in 2009 rightly lifted a ban on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research.

The president knew we needed more, not less, research that could bring cures.

Proponents of the bill in Kansas may label the pitch to promote adult stem-cell use as a way to help the sick, when it’s really their way to downplay the promising use of embryonic stem cells.

No one should be fooled by their crusade.