The ice bucket challenge to raise money for the ALS Foundation is sweeping the nation. In a relatively short time, it’s already raised nearly $20 million for research to find a cure for Lew Gehrig’s Disease.
On the surface, it seems like a noble cause worth supporting. Who wouldn’t want to help fight a cure for such a debilitating disease? The famous video of Lew Gehrig announcing his retirement from major league baseball due to the disease is played over and over and truly yanks on all of our heart strings.
However, the ALS Foundation uses embryonic stem cells in their research instead of adult stem cells. According to their webpage:
“What are stem cells?”
“Stem cells are cells that have the ability to divide for indefinite periods in culture and give rise to multiple specialized cell types. They can develop into blood, bone, brain, muscle, skin and other organs. Embryonic stem cells are undifferentiated cells that have the ability to form any adult cell.”
“Where do embryonic stem cells come from?”
“Human embryonic stem cells are derived from fertilized embryos less than a week old. When a sperm fertilizes an egg and creates a single cell, this cell has the potential to form a complete organism and is called totipotent. In the first hours after fertilization, this cell divides into identical totipotent cells. After approximately four days, the cells start to specialize and form a hollow sphere of cells called a blastocyst. The blastocyst has an outer layer of cells and inside the hollow sphere there is a cluster of cells called the inner cell mass. Cells from the inner cell mass can be used to develop pluripotent stem cell lines. Embryonic stem (ES) cells lines are considered to be pluripotent as they can develop into any of the tissues that form the body. Earlier studies focused on mouse ES cells, however recently scientists have shown that they are able to isolate and propagate human embryonic stem cells in culture. Pluripotent stem cells undergo further specialization into multipotent stem cells that give rise to cells with a particular function. For example, multipotent stem cells in the brain give rise to different neuronal cell types and glia.”
“The discovery that human embryonic stem cells can be isolated and propagated in culture with the potential of developing into all tissues of the body is a major medical breakthrough. However it has raised a great deal of ethical questions.”
Life begins at conception! Everything necessary for the entire human body exists the moment a sperm fertilizers an egg. Killing a four day old human embryo is no different than killing an eight month old unborn child or 12 year old child or 40 year old adult. It is taking a human life.
Proponents of embryonic stem cell research claim that a four day old embryo is not human. They often argue that it doesn’t resemble a human and cannot survive on its own outside a woman’s body. So when exactly does an embryo become a real human being? How can anyone quantify an exact moment? I’ve heard arguments claiming that it’s not human until it draws its first breath, but that is totally illogical since some babies can be born at 5-6 months along and still survive. If a 5 month developed baby can survive, then why isn’t an 8 month developed baby not a human? Most conservatives and Christians believe that the day after pill is a form of abortion so killing a four day old embryo must be treated in the same way.
The use of embryonic stem cells in their research has not gone unnoticed. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has issued a statement warning Catholics to not participate in the ice bucket challenge because of the use of embryonic stem cells. They encourage Catholics that if they want to donate to help fight ALS that they should donate to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa because they research ALS without using embryonic stem cells.
Spokesman Dan Andriacco stated:
“The challenge itself is fine.”
“The Archdiocese just doesn’t want fundraising to be sent to the association, which funds at least one study using embryonic stem cells.”
“(Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a terrible disease.”
“We appreciate the compassion that has caused so many people to engage in this, but it’s a well established moral principle that a good end is not enough. The means to that ends must be morally licit.”
They have sent notices to the various schools within the archdiocese to not participate in the ice bucket challenge.
I would urge you to think twice about taking part in the ice bucket challenge and donating to the ALS Foundation. They are killing unborn human babies. If you want to donate, either donate to the Catholic research facility of find another institution that does not use embryonic stem cells.