Group files suit against stem-cell legislation - Catholic Courier

Group files suit against stem-cell legislation

As an ardent opponent of embryonic stem-cell research, Jann Armantrout strongly backs a state advocacy group’s recent lawsuit to prevent taxpayer funds from supporting such research.

The suit — Feminists Choosing Life of New York (FCLNY) v. Empire State Stem Cell Board — was filed Oct. 9 in New York State Supreme Court. FCLNY is targeting a state-approved plan to pay women for their eggs that would, in turn, be used for embryonic stem-cell research.

Armantrout, who serves as diocesan Catholic Charities life-issues coordinator, told the Courier that FCLNY members “are to be applauded for the extraordinary effort they are going to by filing suit to prevent the exploitation of women’s bodies for dubious biomedical research.”

According to the suit, the state program would provide “significant monetary inducements to women to engage in this painful and risky procedure, which in part disproportionately appeals to economically vulnerable women.” In addition, FCLNY contends that the program “fails to satisfactorily provide for informed consent and other safeguards to ensure adequate disclosure to women of the risks of egg harvesting.”

FCLNY noted in its suit that on June 11, 2009, the Empire State Stem Cell Board (ESSCB), passed a resolution authorizing the expenditure of as much as $10,000 in taxpayer funds per donation to compensate young women who agree to allow their eggs to be used for research. ESCCB is responsible for administering $600 million in funding for stem-cell research that was appropriated by the state legislature in 2007. Actual monetary compensation for egg donations is scheduled to begin in January 2010, according to Kelly Brunacini, FCLNY board president.

FCLNY officials said that New York state is the first governmental entity anywhere in the United States to approve spending taxpayer money for such a procedure. The organization contends that egg stimulation and extraction carries such health risks as ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome, clotting disorders, kidney damage, ovarian twisting, pulmonary embolism, damage to future reproductive ability, and stroke.

“Offering money to women to participate in procedures that expose them to all the risks of invasive surgery, anesthetic and unknown long-term consequences of hormonal treatment is immoral, unethical and unnecessary. There is great merit in the Feminist Choosing Life lawsuit that seeks to stop this bestial proposal,” Armantrout said.

FCLNY and Armantrout instead support adult stem-cell research and treatment, which do not involve the ethical and medical concerns associated with the use of embryonic stem cells. So-called “adult” stem cells are derived from umbilical-cord blood and the tissue of individuals who have been born.

“Medical treatments using ethically derived stem cells for devastating diseases like diabetes, spinal cord injury and heart disease continue to advance throughout United States and other advanced nations,” Armantrout said. “Yet, the governor’s appointees to the Empire State Stem Cell Board continue to pump money into embryo research that is inherently unethical and dangerous to women although the state is teetering on bankruptcy.”

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