Mr. Speaker, I had in mind what I would say when I rose but listening to the hon. member across the way has changed what I wished to talk about. I will direct myself to what he said. I appreciate his sincerity but do not fully agree with him.
There are so many things we get into that could be referred to as designer fixes. By that I mean we focus on what is popular or current and tend to ignore everything else. Following the hon. member's suggestion and saying embryonic stem cell research is a potential cure all could create problems. That is the decision the House would make by passing the bill as it stands. We would go ahead with embryonic stem cell research right away without further development of adult stem cell research. Adult stem cell research would be pushed off to one side. Scientists and researchers would focus instead on embryonic stem cell research and we would miss an opportunity.
I will use an example. Some might say it is a little radical but I am trying to make a point. A lot of people are in need of organ transplants. The need often exceeds the supply. Why do we not take people who have committed serious crimes, shoot them and take their organs so we can preserve the lives of the more morally upright people who have not committed crimes? There are two reasons why we do not. First, there is the moral issue. Second, there are alternatives.
This is exactly what we are facing in the question of stem cell research. First, we are facing a moral issue. Is it right to destroy embryos so we can harvest their stem cells to find cures for diseases that may or may not be curable another way? This raises a lot of moral questions. It is not just the moral argument, as the hon. member suggested, where embryos that are not used for artificial insemination would cease to exist in any case.
Some might argue that in the tightest confines of control where there are absolute safeguards and assurances it is only by accident that an extra embryo would exist. Perhaps the people involved thought it would be needed and by happenstance it was not. Faced with an extra embryo they would ask what to do and whether it was for the greater good. An argument can be made that way. The problem is that nothing in Bill C-437 would prevent such people from saying that to be absolutely sure they had better have a lot of extra embryos in case some did not take. They would end up with a huge amount of embryos. They would be creating a supply to serve a need they created themselves.
As in the wild example I gave where there is a moral issue, there are also alternatives. There are alternatives in terms of donors. There is a shortage of supply. We need to do all kinds of things to ensure organ donors come forward. Maybe we need more education in terms of the health of people who make donations. What would be the potential future problems for someone who donates a kidney?
With regard to people passing away, there are concerns that people who are anxious might decide a bit too quickly that a person will probably not survive. They might decide to get the organs while they are fresh and before too much time has expired. These are real fears that exist in some people's minds. Perhaps we need to do more advertising to ensure people understand the shortage and the real need for organs. We could show people that making the sacrifice in one form or another could preserve a human life.
There are alternatives in the case of stem cell research. Adult stem cell research is underway to effect potential cures. Treatments are currently underway using adult stem cells. Because it is not foreign tissue it does not have the problem of rejection that we see, ironically, with organ transplants. There is real potential in adult stem cell research. All we are saying in our proposal is that we should properly explore the alternative, the one with fewer moral implications and potential health problems for recipients.
If we moved too quickly to embryonic stem cell research many people would put adult stem cell research aside. They would say it was old while embryonic stem cell research was new. They would want to focus on the new and not bother with the old. Government grants would dry up and become non-existent. There would be no move toward research. Research would wither and die. All bets would be on embryonic stem cell research and the demand for it would go up. People would be inclined to cheat and create far more embryos than needed. Embryos would be created for the pure purpose of destroying them for medical research. That is the moral question.
I am not saying that at some point we need to investigate the possibility for the greater good of mankind or to treat the living without destroying life in the process. However while we have alternatives, and we do have alternatives, we owe it to the public and ourselves to fully explore them to ensure they get an honest chance.
We are not saying we should move the issue aside indefinitely or forever. We are saying we should be given three years to make a concentrated effort to determine whether we can effect cures through an alternative, morally higher and perhaps medically safer ground. If at the end of that time evidence suggests it is not working and that embryonic stem cells have greater potential, let us move cautiously in that direction and design a bill that provides safeguards. However we should know we have exhausted the alternatives before moving onto that ground. That is a reasonable request.
The hon. member shared some ideas with us. I appreciate that. It is what we are supposed to do in this place. We are supposed to share ideas, not fight one another. There is a good mixture on both sides of the House on the issue. It is a disturbing and controversial bill on which we need to move slowly.
I will consider words of the hon. member and I trust he will consider mine. I hope everyone in the House is listening carefully to everyone's ideas. It ultimately will help us design a bill that reflects the needs and wishes of the Canadian public.