The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

Obama Overturns Stem Cell Policy

stemcellToday marked the day that President Obama reversed former President Bush’s Stem Cell Policy,  opening the door for federal taxpayer dollars to fund expanded embryonic stem cell research. Since most of us live with a chronic illness, there may be a part of you that wonders if this could eventually lead to a cure for your disease. And yet, does it cross a moral line?

I don’t have all the answers, but I did support the former president’s policy and do not support Obama’s change. Below I have listed some resources for you to be aware of.  I have done my best to give you web sites we can stand behind, but I have not read all of the information from each web site.  Please use your discernment.

  • A 2007 Pew poll found that 51 percent of Americans said it’s more important to conduct stem cell research that might lead to new cures than to avoid destroying human embryos. An additional 14 percent said they were unsure, while just 35 percent said it’s more important not to destroy human embryos.

First, what is the difference between adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells? Here is a description from

Adult stem cells are obtained from living bone marrow, blood, brain tissue, skin, and body fat. Other sources rich in adult stem cells are umbilical-cord blood and the placenta.

Embryonic stem cells, as their name suggests, are derived from human embryos. In order to harvest embryonic stem cells, an embryo must be destroyed. Central to the debate, then, is our view of the human embryo. The biblical teaching is that human existence begins at conception (Psalm 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:4-5). The international consensus of embryologists agrees with Scripture in that life begins at fertilization. At the moment of conception, the embryo is 100 percent human, with all 46 human chromosomes and a fully functioning, unique genetic code. Size and location do not determine humanity.

Because research on embryonic stem cells requires the destruction of a living human being, it is against God’s will. No amount of promised “benefit” to society or to medical knowledge can justify the killing of a human for spare parts.

This is a quote from a press release in January from Joni Eareckson Tada, disability ministry leader.  (> read the press release here)

“Of the three types of stem cell research, embryonic is by far the most costly, least useful and most destructive,” said Dr. Kathy McReynolds, Biola University professor, bioethicist and director of public policy at the Christian Institute on Disability.

“Both adult stem cells (taken from bone marrow and other tissue sources) and neonatal stem cells (from umbilical cord blood and the placenta) have been used in treating over 100 diseases successfully and have many superior qualities to embryonic stem cells. Nor do they require the destruction of human life.”

The CID has scores of examples where adult stem cells have been used to successfully treat patients who have been paralyzed, as well as those suffering from leukemia, lymphoma, inherited blood disorders, kidney cancer, diabetes and even multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease. However, not one single researcher has tested a therapy using embryonic stem cells in a human patient, recognizing that the risk is too great.

Do No Harm web site ( has a great deal of information that proves the effectiveness of using adult stem cells. A press release states:

“Adult stem cells continue to show their ability to successfully treat human disease and injury, while embryonic stem cells continue to demonstrate zero benefits for humans, and only limited to results in animal models.”

The Life Legal Defense Foundation shares this along with a video of the congressmen at their web site.

Unless you have C-Span, you may have missed Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and nine pro-life Members of Congress (Wamp, Foxx, Fortenberry, Forbes, Jordan, Fleming, Bilirakis, Bachmann and Souder) speak about stem cell research on the House floor on March 4, 2009. These Members discussed the tremendous breakthroughs in ethically noncontroversial stem cells and reasons why expanded taxpayer funded human embryonic destructive research is untenable. As well, they spoke about the “Human Cloning Prohibition Act,” H.R. 1050, and H.R. 877, the “Patient’s First Act.”

As one who lives with chronic illness I am sure many in the illness community online and offline could chide me for morally believing life begins at conception and we should not sacrifice these embryos for a “cure” for those of us with illness. But the facts speak for themselves I believe. Regardless of one’s moral beliefs, adult stem cell research is less expensive, more readily available, more successful and it is currently working in the lives of many.

Call me cynical, but although scientists may sometimes put their morals aside in order to further research, they rarely put aside their pocketbooks.



  kentuckywinn wrote @

Bravo, Lisa. If stem cell research through the use of embelical cords has been more successful, and doesn’t involve the controversial issues of destruction of life, then why are we even considering those methods that involve loss f life at any stage?

  Kerri wrote @

Hey Lisa,

I completely agree. Well said. First of all, I am infuriated by what MY tax dollars ALREADY pay for; now I have to pay for the making of life simply for destruction? Makes me angry.

And as you stated, the most promising research has come from ADULT stem cells, which don’t need to harm or kill anyone to be used. So now, not only is abortion murder, but now, anyone who uses these poor little souls to do research on is murdering as well. Oh, Lord, do not tarry!

  mary hall wrote @

I for one a thrilled that President Obama has given researchers the go ahead in stem cell research. I agree adult stem cell research is the best way to go but using the umbilical cord which is just thrown away is very useful. I would suggest a very good book “stem cell research” by Joseph Panno who explains very well all the pros and cons of stem cell research. I find it an exciting field and being an invisible pain sufferer embrace this research. For once I can see my tax dollars actually doing some good.

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