Dr. Mark Rollo knows stem cell research could lead to medical breakthroughs in the search for cures to diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injuries.
But he also thinks it’s wrong to use embryos for research.
"The Catholic Church teaches, and I believe, it’s immoral to destroy human life or to use another human life for spare parts," said Rollo, a Fitchburg family practice doctor and practicing Catholic. "Sure, it could be a cure of Parkinson’s and other diseases, but the means matter. The ends don’t justify the means."
The debate over embryo, or embryonic, stem cell research boils down to a disagreement on when human life begins.
Stem cells give rise to all types of cells in the body, and researchers want to use them to create healthy new cells to cure diseases including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, cancer and auto-immune disorders.
There are two types of stem cell research: adult and embryonic.
Scientists take adult stem cells from a person’s body tissue to make new cells. For example, liver stem cells might be used to create new liver cells to repair organ damage.
Bone marrow transplants are another form of using adult stem cells.
Embryonic stem cells come from a newly fertilized egg, or embryo, and they are believed to be capable of forming any type of human cell.
Stem cells can also be taken from umbilical cords and the placenta, after a baby is born.
Lanza said embryos used at ACT often come from in-vitro fertilization clinics that collect a number of egg and sperm samples to help couples become pregnant.
"Obviously there are leftovers and (clinicians) only implant some of them," said Lanza. "(Remaining embryos) are either destroyed or frozen indefinitely. The argument is, do we throw them away like garbage or use them to save lives? That’s what the debate comes down to."
Leominster resident Kathy Corant supports embryonic stem cell research.
"Anything we can do to help find cures for Parkinson’s or any other kind of disease, I’m all for it," she said.
Dawn Cormier believes stem cell research is necessary to help cure diseases.
"I don’t personally believe an embryo is a baby," said Cormier, 27, while pushing her newborn baby in a stroller along Main Street in Leominster. "If it can help, why not try? We don’t necessarily have to continue it."
Others believe destroying a potential life, no matter how early, is wrong.
"I think it depends on your religious beliefs," said John Ruel of Leominster, said of supporting stem cell research. "I’m against anything involving a human embryo, but I support (adult stem cell research) or bone marrow (transplants)."
Ruel is also a practicing Catholic.
Rollo believes the "driving force" behind embryonic stem cell research is "a way of further validating abortion."
"If you are destroying an embryo, that is basically aborting an early human being," said Rollo, who said Kerry’s position is "indefensible," as a Catholic himself. (source)
I think the scariest line in the article was "Anything we can do to help find cures for …, I’m all for it," Truly anything? One point made in the article I do believe in is that the fight for ESCR is more often about protecting the "right" or abortion compared to the perceived promise of ESCR.