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This is about finding cures, not cloning humans

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AS I SEE IT: This is about finding cures, not cloning humans

I am a bit perplexed as to who Cures Without Cloning is actually representing.

Missourians have already banned the cloning of human beings. They did this by voting yes on the stem cell amendment last November. Our state constitution now makes it a felony crime to even attempt to clone a human being, while ensuring that federally approved stem cell research can be pursued within strict, ethical boundaries.

If the anti-cures crowd were truly concerned about “cloning,” they also would seek to ban other procedures, such as skin grafting that involves the “cloning” of skin cells. It is not part of their agenda, however, because they know that this is a lifesaving procedure.

Their misguided mission seeks to repeal our access to one of the most promising forms of stem cell research, somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). The medical purpose of this procedure is to cure disease, and to hopefully end the suffering of millions. I have a spinal cord injury that I sustained when I was 14 years old. I would like to be able to live without pain. SCNT gives me a chance.

Simply put, SCNT works like this: My wife would donate her unfertilized egg, then scientists would remove her DNA from the egg, replacing it with a skin cell from me that has my DNA. Then they would fuse the egg and skin cell in a Petri dish. If the skin cell and unfertilized egg unite, within three to five days, inside that egg will be my unique embryonic stem cells, which are an exact genetic match to me, thus eliminating the risk of immune system rejection.

My wife, my family and my doctor should be allowed to make this decision without interference from others.

Doctors hope to one day be able to use this procedure to cure diabetes, Parkinson’s and spinal cord injury, heart disease, cancer, etc. How fantastic would that be?

We must allow science within ethical guidelines to pursue these potentially lifesaving cures. As you read this, another person has just died from one of these causes. The clock is ticking, and time is of the essence.

No one wants to clone human beings. What Missourians seek, and what they voted for, is to ensure that our researchers have the same opportunities to find cures and our sick and injured can get treatments that are available to every other American.

The anti-cures people seek to take away those rights and thrust their own personal beliefs on us. We must not be fooled by their true agenda.
Joe Rhea speaks on brain and spinal cord injury prevention to students all over the country. He lives in Raytown.

by Joe Rhea

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