Supporting ALS Research and Being Pro-Life

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has quickly taken over social media newsfeeds. At first many were skeptical about its effectiveness in raising awareness and funds, until we heard that the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised $41 million (as of Thursday, August 21, 2014), and that number continues to climb. Even I participated (after ignoring as many "nominations" as possible). What is a "nomination" anyway? You can see that on my Facebook Page (it is all the pastors of Northridge except Scott Bixby – who somehow managed to avoid being challenged – hint, hint). 

Some questions about have been raised about the ALS Association using embryonic stem cells in their research. That creates a problem for those of us who are pro-life. You can read all about it HERE. Here are a few important facts:

  • The ALSA is currently involved in one study using embryonic stem cells. Historically, they've used adult stem cells. The embryos are killed during the process of harvesting their cells and then are discarded afterwards.
  • The one study they are involved in was funded through one specific donor.
  • Yet that doesn't mean that future embryonic studies won't be paid for through donations.
  • If you donate to the ALSA, they allow you to stipulate that your gift not be used for any current or future embryonic stem cell research.
  • Yet, the ALSA philosophically is not opposed to embryonic stem cell research and may be more involved in this in the future.
  • THE BEST NEWS: The ALS Association isn't the only way to give to the study of ALS. There are other options. Even the ALS Association asks that you “make a donation to an ALS charity of [your] choice.” I want to kindly suggest you choose one of the options below when you make you donation.

So – here are some organizations recommended by Christian bioethicist David Prentice that use adult stem cells in ALS research rather than embryonic stem cells:

  1. As always we appreciate your research into such things and the wisdom you share…Thank you also for mentioning you ignored a few nominations…:)

  2. My understanding of stem cell research is that (at least in America) all research strains come from in vitro fertilization. In IVF, many eggs are fertilized outside of the body, and the most viable embryo is then implanted into the female. The lesser viable embryo’s are then either destroyed, or used in stem cell research (actually, in the US, most of them are frozen in hopes that they can eventually be used in stem cell research).

    I guess to me you either a. support IVF, and therefore using the lesser viable embryo’s in stem cell research is at least as moral as destroying them without using them for research or b. you do not support IVF, but still recognize that potentially viable embryos are going to be destroyed in some way.

    Personally, I fall into category a, but I could see a biblical case for category b. However, even in the case of b, I don’t see how you could argue that it would be more moral to destroy the embryos without using them for research than it would be to destroy them while using them for research. I would be really interested in hearing your thoughts on this, and why it is that so many folks in the church are so opposed to stem cell research, but are not opposed to the IVF procedures that produce the embryos in the first place.

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