Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak about embryonic stem cells and how we should protect embryos because we are talking about protecting the children of this country.
I must say that the argument for the use of embryonic stem cells for research, ESCR, is based on three serious misunderstandings. First, the idea that the fundamental principles of ethics are appropriately based on a consensus of interested persons who express their opinions in regard to moral choices rather than on the divine law is understood by human reason and is given in Revelation.
Second, there is a failure to realize that a human being, innocent and possessing the inherent right to be protected and not killed or harmed in any way, comes into existence at the moment of fertilization of a human ovary by a human sperm. This fact had been denied by those who promote ESCR when they define the beginning of life at implantation rather than fertilization, which is a minimum of seven days. That human life begins at fertilization is attested to in current standard world textbooks and medical dictionaries. It is there; it is a proven fact.
Third, the misrepresentation of scientific and medical facts in regard to the practicality, therapeutic promise, and results in the dangers to both health and life of ESCR in comparison with adult stem cell research. Those are three misunderstandings.
There is a difference between embryonic stem cell research and adult stem cell research. We are not opposed to the adult stem cell research, but we are certainly opposed to taking a little baby out of the womb, using it and killing it. There is no way this should be happening.
When I look around the House of Commons and see all these young people coming up on the Hill, I ask myself, would we have harmed any one of them? Would any one of us have harmed them? No, we would not, but if we allow Bill C-13 to pass we would be harming the future of our country and the young people out there, God love them, who need to be protected and need some voices.
The case against embryonic stem cell research is that a human embryo is a human being. The fact that the one cell human is a member of the human species, a human being, has been established since the 1880s and is accepted by embryological science today. The retrieval of embryonic stem cells from the human embryo kills the embryo. Since the embryo is an innocent human being and has the inherent right not to be killed or harmed in any way, it is not morally acceptable to obtain to stem cells from embryos.
We in the House of Commons are here to protect the young. We are here to protect all the people in Canada from coast to coast. However, we would not be protecting anyone if we were to allow this to happen. This is a step in the wrong direction.
There are problems and they have been spelled out by Dr. Peter Andrews of the University of Sheffield, England, who said, “Simply keeping human embryonic stem cells alive can be a challenge”. Doug Melton, a Harvard University researcher, has said, “In my view (human embryonic stem cells) would degrade with time”.
Human embryonic stem cells have never been used successfully at any time in clinical trials. They have a lacklustre success in combating animal models of disease and carry significant risk, including immune rejection and tumour formation.
This is a matter that concerns every member of the House. I do not know of any member in the House who would want to kill a child. I do not know of anyone. However, this is exactly what we are talking about when we talk about embryonic stem cell research.
We are in favour of adult stem cell research. Adult stem cells have been used in many clinical trials with great success, when it comes to multiple sclerosis, severe combined immunodeficiency, Crohn's disease, cancer and others. As far as embryonic stem cell research and human cloning, we are totally, completely opposed to it.
There are two types of cloning: reproductive and therapeutic. The cloning process is the same in both types, only the intended use of the manufactured embryo is different. In the one case, reproductive cloning, the embryo is intended to be implanted and to live. In the other, therapeutic cloning, the embryo is designed to be killed. The process of producing the embryo, somatic cell nuclear transfer, is the same no matter what use is made of the embryo.
There are great problems with the bill. We have so many people coming forward with concerns and I know many of our colleagues have said that as well.
Motion No. 82 seeks to amend clause 40 to require research applicants who wish to use surplus embryos to do research on embryonic stem cells to provide reasons why they cannot use stem cells from other sources. Non-embryonic stem cells are readily available and used extensively in research with substantial success. If a non-embryonic stem cell can achieve the same research objectives then embryonic stem cells are not necessary and the application should be denied.
Motion No. 83 would add a new subclause in clause 40 to the effect that if there were insufficient surplus embryos to sustain meaningful research then no further licences should be issued for embryonic stem cell research. Since only about one in one hundred embryos can produce stem cells which meet the quality requirements of researchers it would be totally inappropriate to destroy so many when they could be made available for adoption by infertile couples.
There are so many people today who want to adopt children, who want to look after young people, and give them the foundation for their future and the future of Canada. However that opportunity would not be there if we were to allow embryonic stem cell research to take place.
It bothers me when I think about all the little children who I used to work with through the school system. I look at them today and wonder, would we have hurt any one of those children? Would we have killed those children? No, we would not and I cannot think of any members in the House, if they understand what embryonic stem cell research means, that would vote in favour of the motion without the amendments that are being put forward by our people.