The Ministry of Lisa Copen

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

Archive for Ethics

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.


U.K. Hospitals Betray Their History by Banishing Prayer

Hospitals betray their history by banishing prayer

It is ironic that the country which fostered the Christian tradition of nursing chose to  suspend a nurse who wished to pray for her patient, says Bishop Nazir-Ali.

This is part of an essay from the Telegraph, from which the below is excerpted:

Indeed, in the NHS itself spiritual care is widely recognised as part of caring for the whole person. More and more evidence is available that spiritual beliefs and prayers have a positive effect on patients and their sense of well-being. Chaplains and others are employed to deliver appropriate care to staff, relatives and patients. This is especially so at times of bereavement or of a local or national emergency but it is not, of course, limited to such occasions.

It may be, however, that political correctness is restricting even the role of chaplains and of the volunteers who work with them. It is no longer enough, it seems, for the chaplain to be able to visit people who have declared their faith on admission. The chaplain may not be allowed access to such data on confidentiality grounds (in which case why gather it in the first place?) and patients may actively have to request the services of a chaplain or volunteer before they can have access to them. Why cannot consent for access by Chaplains, for example, be taken at the same time as information about religious allegiance?

The arrival of people of other faiths provided chaplains with an opportunity for Christian hospitality in making sure that such people had access to a spiritual leader from their own tradition and had their spiritual needs met. This has now mutated into the closure of chapels, the retrenchment of a distinctively Christian chaplaincy and the advent of a doctrinaire multi-faithism. Let me say immediately that this has little do with people of other faiths who have no objection to chapels and chaplains, as long as their own needs are met, and everything to do with secularist agendas which marginalise all faith but seem especially hostile to Christianity. There is no reason at all why a Christian chapel and chaplaincy cannot be retained, while also providing adequately, and with dignity, for the needs of others.

The long withdrawing roar of the sea of faith seems to be getting louder: nurses cannot pray, the Creed cannot be recited at Christian services for fear of offending non-believers, Christian marriage counsellors are removed because they believe in Christian marriage and Christian adoption agencies cannot be publicly funded because they believe that children are best brought up in a family with a mother and father to look after them.

It seems certain that no other faith would be subjected to such strictures and, indeed, to the benign neglect to which the churches have become accustomed. A place for Christians in the public square must be reclaimed. We should be able to contribute to public discussion about the beginnings of life and its end, the structure of the family, the building of community, justice for the poor, company for the lonely and, especially, the care of the sick, the dying and the bereaved and a host of other issues.

It is time for a movement of Christians that will put the Christian case vigorously in public debate, that will remind the nation of its Christian heritage, that will make a difference where there is human need and, yes, that will commit itself to prayer in schools, hospitals, prisons, workplaces, Parliament and the streets so that people may experience again the blessing of God on this country.

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