Michigan Catholics will soon receive educational material about stem cell research from the Michigan Catholic Conference explaining how the use of adult stem cells is ethical, unlike embryonic stem cell research which destroys life.
The campaign, titled "Finding Cures and Protecting Life", will distribute an informational DVD and other material to more than half a million Catholic households in the state. The state's 800 parishes will also be encouraged to supplement the endeavor.
Michigan's Catholic bishops have included a letter with the campaign material promoting adult stem cell research and condemning as morally unacceptable embryonic stem cell research, which "involves the direct killing of human embryos and leads to human cloning."
Michigan banned human cloning in 1998, but some groups are considering amending the ban to permit somatic cell nuclear transfer, a method used in some forms of embryonic stem cell research. Proponents of embryonic stem cell research are also considering a 2008 ballot proposal to permit research that includes the destruction of human embryos, although this type of research is also currently banned. Under their proposal, which faces unlikely prospects in the legislature, such embryos would come from the stores of fertility clinics.
The Michigan Catholic Conference DVD presents two patients who suffered spinal cord injuries and were treated with adult stem cells. Stem cells in both embryonic and adult form are considered potential sources of treatment for severe spinal cord injuries as well as diabetes, Parkinson's Disease, and other debilitating ailments. Adult stem cell treatments have therapeutic results better than their embryonic counterparts, though defenders of embryonic stem cell research claim this difference is due to the relative novelty of embryonic research.
Paul Long, vice-president for public policy at the Michigan Catholic Conference, said on Friday that the "Finding Cures and Protecting Life" campaign is intended to oppose "the hype over embryonic stem cell research that has overshadowed the real hope" found in adult stem cell research.