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18 / 11 / 2010 - Billboard campaign counters embryo research push in Ireland
Embryo research has “failed miserably” to help patients, and is far exceeded in medical successes by adult and umbilical cord blood stem cell therapies, says an Irish pro-life campaign group. Why then, they ask, is the Irish government pushing so hard to allow experimentation on living human embryos in their officially pro-life country?
Youth Defence, the Republic of Ireland’s leading pro-life group, this week launched a billboard and public education campaign calling on the current government to halt all plans to legalize embryonic stem cell research.
In January this year, Mary Harney, Ireland’s Health Minister, announced she would bring forward legislation that would allow the use of the human embryo in medical research. This announcement followed three years of polls showing that between 60 and 70 percent of the Irish population is in favor of retaining legal protections for embryonic human life from the point of conception.
“You, Me, Everybody. We’re all just grown-up embryos,” say the Youth Defence billboards that are the centrepiece of the new campaign and that are already on display around the country. The second phase of the “You, Me, Everybody” campaign will be thousands of postcards and information leaflets to be distributed to all the churches throughout the country.
Ireland, which has protections for the unborn written into its constitution, has been the subject of an orchestrated campaign from within government and the research community to bring legalized embryonic stem cell research into the country. Youth Defence contends that legalizing embryo research would also undermine the country’s legal prohibition against abortion, since it would require amending the constitution.
Youth Defence has anticipated this fight for some years. In 2008, inhabitants of the city of Dublin were greeted with billboard ads, courtesy of Youth Defence, featuring a cherub-faced baby and the caption, “Don’t use me for spare parts.”
A booklet produced by the pro-life organization, “Join the Dots: Who’s Behind the Push for Embryo Research in Ireland,” that is being distributed to legislators and other public figures, outlines the long-planned process by which government “quangos” (quasi-non governmental organizations) have been appointed and funded by the government to push for legalizing embryo research.
The push started in 2000 when then-health minister Micheal Martin set up the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction (CAHR), to “study” the issue. That Commission, Youth Defence contends, was “stacked” with experts who were already in favor of the use of living human embryos for research. The actual purpose of the €634,000 Commission, they said, was to “create the perception that a consensus in favour of embryo research exists among Irish experts.”
On October 31, 2008 in response to the decision of the governing body of University College, Cork to approve embryonic stem cell research, Youth Defence issued a statement calling it a “carefully choreographed bid to undermine legal protection for the human embryo.”
They said the decision was “deplorable” as well as “unethical, indefensible and scientifically wrong-headed,” and cited the thousands of cures and treatments being successfully developed with adult stem cells, compared to the near total absence of similar success with embryos.
In April 2009, Senators David Norris and Ivana Bacik issued a statement, saying, “The overwhelming consensus among the medical and scientific community … is that embryonic stem cell research offers immense potential for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders in particular, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
“Ireland needs legislation to regulate the carrying out of this research, in line with the recommendations of the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction in 2005 and the Irish Council for Bioethics in 2008. Both expert bodies recommended a robust legal framework within which embryonic stem cell research would be permitted.”
This Council for Bioethics (ICB), was appointed by then-Enterprise and Trade minster Mary Harney, who is now the minister for Health and is notoriously in support of legal abortion. Harney also voted in favor of funding for embryo research through the EU. The ICB was launched in 2003 at a cost of €437,000, and has a membership entirely composed of experts in favor of legalization of embryo research and abortion.
Typical of the attitudes of the ICB members towards the dignity of the human embryo was that expressed by Dr. Siobhan Sullivan, who said that the embryo targeted for destructive research would be “respected” by “using it for the good of society.”
In 2003, CAHR and ICB invited Baroness Mary Warnock, the UK utilitarian bioethicist notorious for her description of premature babies and elderly people as “bed blockers,” to be the keynote speaker at their 2003 conference in Dublin Castle.
Despite the insistence of the “experts,” public opinion is strongly against the use of embryos as human test subjects in Ireland. During its public consultations, the ICB received 2200 submissions, 69 percent of which said that the human embryo had the full moral status of a human being from the moment of fertilization, and 70 percent of which opposed their use for research. Another 65 percent said they would be unwilling to use medical treatments that were derived from killing embryos.
Information made available under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that University College, Cork received 1300 submissions opposing embryo research in 2008, including from a majority of UCC academics.
Source: By Hilary White - LifeSiteNews.com