Last October the governing body of UCC opened the door to embryo research in Ireland. By the narrowest of majorities - 16 to 15 votes - UCC became the first third-level institution in Ireland to allow for experimentation on cells obtained by destroying human life.
It was a deplorable decision - unethical, indefensible and scientifically wrong-headed. And it makes Cork a centre for lethal experiments on human life.
Youth Defence said the decision was a regressive step. Experimenting on human life is always wrong - and this decision comes at a time when the scientific community is turning away from embryo research and when ethical adult stem cells are producing fantastic results and providing real cures.
The also pointed out that the proposal was "the result of a carefully choreographed bid to undermine legal protection for the human embryo."
The Chairman of UCC's governing body - Mr Dermot Gleeson - had previously been an appointee to the State body, the Irish Council for Bioethics (ICB). The ICB had infamously ignored 70% of the submissions it had received, which opposed embryo research, and called for experiments on human life to be legalised in Ireland.
Dr Deirdre Madden, a law lecturer in UCC, and a long-time campaigner for embryo research was a member of the committee who put the proposal before the governing body. D Madden also favours cloning human embryos, so that they can be destroyed in lethal research.
Clearly supporters of embryo research believe that they can force the issue by ignoring the law, and the wishes of the Irish people, and simply forging ahead with experiments on human life.
In the weeks following the decision, UCC was visited and congratulated on its decision by Baroness Mary Warnock, the English peeress who has said that resuscitating premature babies was a waste of resources; that people with dementia may have a duty to die; and, in relation to the human embryo, that you couldn't respect something that you would pour down the sink.
The aim of this campaign is to reverse the decision made by UCC's governing body and to protect the right to life of the human embryo. The success of ethical adult stem cell. There are two objectives:
The campaign should bring a surge of lobbying, as the public contacts UCC and their political representatives to demand that embryo research does not go ahead in UCC.
The centerpiece of the campaign is a pro-life billboard campaign displayed throughout Cork and neighbouring counties from February 9th to 23rd.
The leaflet accompanying the billboard will be delivered to every home in Cork during February and March and a door-to-door canvass will explain the issues. Two points of clarification are particularly needed:
1. Human life is a continuum - and it begins at conception. It's simply dishonest to pretend that human embryos used for research are not human beings at the earliest stages of life. In fact, it is precisely because the embryo is human that their stem cells are thought to have value.
2. Adult stem cells are usually taken from the patient's own body and are successfully treating up to 73 conditions - including cancer and brain injury. This is ethical stem cell research, unlike embryonic stem cell research which destroys human life and has produced NO successful treatments.
Media reporting of successful stem cell treatments have failed to explain that all the successful treatments reported to date have used adult stem cells. This has led many to mistakenly believe that these successful treatments have been achieved by embryo research. Our campaign hopes to correct this.
The campaign also features a seminar in UCC and Maynooth with international experts (see the seminar) and a media campaign.
Former graduates of UCC have joined with Youth Defence to form UCC Alumni for Life Ethics. They are working to contact as many graduates as possible to oppose the decision by UCC to begin experiments on human embryonic stem cell lines. Some have indicated that they will hand their degrees back to the university in protest.
Regular information stands are being held in UCC to inform students on the issues. Please call 01 8730463 to assist. UCC could advance medicine and help people by making the university a centre of excellence by focusing on ethical adult stem cell research. They could make Cork proud instead of bringing the university into disrepute by experimenting of human life.