Newt Gingrich’s Charity of the Month: Two Questions For Our Readers To Ponder

Newt Gingrich’s Charity of the Month: Two Questions For Our Readers To Ponder November 28, 2010

One of the terrible diseases which affects many of us is Alzheimer’s. Its devastating effects not only affects those who suffer it, but  their loved ones as well. It is disheartening to see the person you knew become lost as a result of the disease. Will they recognize you? Will they remember your time with them? How well can they take care of themselves? The more the disease affects them, the worse answers one will get for these questions. It is therefore understandable for someone to want to do something about it, to help those looking for a cure. This is what Newt Gingrich has done this year; as his charity for the month, he has chosen the Alzheimer’s Association:

Our Charity of the Month

Alzheimer’s Association

Envision a world without Alzheimer’s Disease. A world in which advanced research and brain health have erased the disheartening effects of dementia so patients no longer have to resign themselves to interior confinement and confusion.

This is the vision the Alzheimer’s Association works tirelessly to achieve.

But there is something people should know about the Alzheimer’s Association: it has been listed by many pro-life sites as an advocate for embryonic stem cell research. As quoted on the American Life League site, their policy, though a bit vague, indicates their desire to have no restrictions placed on stem cell research (which would include embryonic stem cell research):

The Alzheimer’s Association’s policy, adopted in June 2004 by the national Board of Directors, states that: ‘In keeping with its mission to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease, the Alzheimer’s Association opposes any restriction or limitation on human stem cell research, provided that appropriate scientific review, and ethical and oversight guidelines are in place.’

One might think these ethical reviews would include pro-life reviews which would say one cannot destroy an embryo, a child, for the sake of stem cells. Yet, this appears not to be the case. They are, as Life International also indicates, on the record of supporting federal funding for embryonic stem cell research This is not to say they lobby for it, and they point out that they have not put resources into such lobbying. This does not mean, however, they do not benefit from the lobbying of others. Indeed, they point to such efforts on their site, such as with the recent panel discussion, “Alzheimer’s Disease: How Stem Cell Research Will Make a Difference.”

The questions then are then these: can one give charitable money to the Alzheimer’s Association? What should Newt’s promotion of the Alzheimer’s Association mean to someone who stands for the Gospel of Life?

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  • Austin Ruse

    Henry,

    One could not support an organization on record as supporting the deliberate killing of human embryos.

    Newt has this one wrong. Newt has been far from perfect on life issues. Likely, however, he is not aware of this groups position.

    Best (from Rome!),

    Austin

  • Brad

    I agree with Austin. I do not support March of Dimes for the same reason, they (at least indirectly) support anti-life policies.

  • Kurt

    Newt has been far from perfect…

  • I think everyone should be required to take a crystal clear position on this issue, and those who take a position against embryonic stem-cell research should be (a) exempt from having their tax dollars in any way support research they are opposed to and (b) should be (along with their future progeny) absolutely forbidden to take any advantage of any new therapies that may be developed against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy, ALS, and any other malady.

    • Paul DuBois

      Though I am willing to forgo any treatment involving embryonic stem cells, I am not comfortable with my progeny being held accountable for my decisions.

  • Newt = typical republican hypocrite when it comes to life issues.

  • Thales

    David,

    From our previous conversations, I assume that you don’t have a problem with embryonic stem-cell research. That’s fine, I think I understand why you hold that, and I’m not seeking to re-debate that here.

    I’m just curious about whether you think that scientific research should have ethical limits. For example, would you be opposed to research done on abandoned infants even if that research promised breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s, etc?

    • Thales

      And, David, as a follow-up, if an advantageous therapy was developed from research done on abandoned infants, do you think that you and your future progeny should be absolutely forbidden from taking advantage of this new therapy?

  • Thales,

    Certainly scientific research should have ethical limits. It seems to me that for embryonic stem-cell research, the use of “excess” embryos created in fertility clinics and originally intended to be implanted, but later donated for research by the parents is — if not perfect — reasonable.

    I don’t think a therapy developed by unethical means is necessarily so tainted that it should not be used. However, I do think that the people who oppose embryonic stem-cell research today would be hypocritical to take advantage of breakthroughs (if there are any) in the future. Here’s an interesting opinion from the Vatican regarding the use of vaccines developed using tissues from aborted human fetuses that I think is relevant to the question.

  • Thales

    David,

    You say: “I don’t think a therapy developed by unethical means is necessarily so tainted that it should not be used. However, I do think that the people who oppose embryonic stem-cell research today would be hypocritical to take advantage of breakthroughs (if there are any) in the future.”

    Your statement touches on why I asked my question in the first place and I still don’t understand your answer. Aren’t you being hypocritical yourself here? You don’t think a therapy developed by unethical means is necessarily so tainted that it should not be used. So supposing a breakthrough is developed by unethical research on infants, are you saying that you and your progeny might be able to take advantage of this breakthrough? But isn’t this hypocritical of you to require those opposing embryonic-stem-cell research to expect them never to take advantage of breakthroughs, while you and your progeny can take advantage of breakthroughs from other unethical research?

    (By the way, I agree the Vatican opinion you link to is interesting. So is this Vatican instruction:
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20081208_dignitas-personae_en.html
    Both documents give the Vatican’s answer to the original question about whether people who oppose embryonic stem cell research can take advantage of breakthroughs: in short, “yes with qualification, depending on the level of material cooperation with evil.”)

  • Austin Ruse

    Actually, David, there is nothing morally wrong with embryonic stem cell research that does not kill embryos.

    • Thales

      Austin,

      Honest question: Currently, is there such a thing as embryonic stem cell research that does not involve embryos being killed?

      I know that there is non-problematic research on adult cells that are “programmed” to become pluripotent cells that are like embryonic stem cells, but I don’t think that is accurately called “embryonic stem cell research.”

      But I’m not very well informed about this whole area, so I might not know of a type of embryonic stem cell research that doesn’t involve killing embryos.

      • Austin Ruse

        It is not relevant whether there is such a thing or not. It is arguable that research with pluripotent stem cells is the same thing as “embryonic stem cell” research since what you are deriving from killing embryos are pluripotent stem cells.

        What we are against is research that kills embryos (embryo destructive research) not something taht is simply called “embryonic stem cell research.”

        • Thales

          Austin,

          I don’t think that you understood my question. I’m just curious about whether it is possible to do research on embryonic stem cells without killing embryos. My (limited) understanding is that any research on embryonic stem cells necessarily involves killing embryos.