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UPDATE: Drudge has latched onto the BBC story and splashed it in red. Oh well, Here's my better sourced version.

George Bush doesn't believe in funding stem-cell research. In a horror story breaking out of the Ukraine, we now get to see exactly what kind of brave new world we're looking at. Failing to fund stem-cell research through orthodox channels has produced a black market that is so deep and dark and black to be positively satanic.

The BBC is reporting:

Healthy new-born babies may have been killed in Ukraine to feed a flourishing international trade in stem cells..Disturbing video footage of post-mortem examinations on dismembered tiny bodies raises serious questions about what happened to them.

Who needs regulation and legal research when the market can solve the problem?


Of course, it could just be a matter of trying to look pretty:

She doesn't care if the treatment is expensive, involves babies and is so controversial that it is not allowed to be performed in this country - among her well-heeled friends, this is the ultimate new elixir of youth.

The attractive brunette has opted for a controversial stem- cell therapy where umbilical cord tissue from new-born babies will be injected into her body.

It may seem distasteful, but thousands of women have already done it and it is organised by a seemingly respectable British clinic then carried out in Rotterdam, Holland, where rules regarding stemcell therapies are not so strict.

In the worst possible way, we learn the price of government failure. Michael Fox reminded us that stem cell research is absolutely vital. However, the world has been slow to respond. The US ban on federally funded stem-cell research is NOT, of course, directly responsible for infanticide in the Ukraine, if that's what's actually taken place. From the BBC link.

In its report, the Council describes a general culture of trafficking of children snatched at birth, and a wall of silence from hospital staff upwards over their fate.

The pictures show organs, including brains, have been stripped - and some bodies dismembered.

A senior British forensic pathologist says he is very concerned to see bodies in pieces - as that is not standard post-mortem practice.

Abortion rights, however, may well be a key issue in the next Presidential election. Bush has already stacked the Supreme Court with conservatives. The Bush approach has been to fuse the issue of abortion to stem-cell research and try to ban both. How much legal stem-cell research is going to be conducted in the US in coming years? One way or the other, it seems, medical research facilities are going to get the materials they need.

Is the Ukraine story the canary in the coal mine? Life is cheap in the 21st century. 2.8 million AIDS victims died this year. Both Dems and Republicans in Congress shrugged, along with the rest of the "civilized" world and spoke of the need to do something.

Slavery is alive and well, with nearly 12.3 million souls around the world bound in some form of indentured labor in the sex, agriculture and domestic industries. Most of the victims are women and children. If the Ukraine story is true, these "modern day slaves" may be the lucky ones.

Blaming Bush for everything is easy and without doubt his insane anti-condom policies in Africa, (finally over-turned) and refusal to fund stem-cell research are criminally irresponsible.

But what can we do to ensure that stem-cell research goes forward now? How can we ensure that only legal abortions take place? And that women get early and private access to all family planning options? Will the US provide the necessary leadership in the UN to ensure that any black market in infant tissue ends before it properly begins?

UPDATE: Some folks think the BBC story too implausible. So here's how the efficient black market in fetuses is supposed to work according to an interview with one pro-stem-cell researcher:

Evidence gathered by the Moscow police department has shown a growing black market in aborted foetuses, which are smuggled into Russia from the Ukraine and Georgia.

Here, poverty-stricken young women are paid 200 U.S. dollars to carry babies up to the optimum eight to 12-week period - thought to be best for harvesting stem cells. They are then sold on to cosmetic clinics.

'The cavalier attitude of Russian cosmetic surgeons is grotesque,' says Dr Minger. 'The origin of the cells is ethically immoral. Furthermore, they don't bother to test for compatibility between the cells injected and the patient who receives them. Medical risks from complications can include infection, tumours and rejection of foreign tissue.'

Originally posted to kidneystones on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 05:03 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Don't look (7+ / 0-)

    away, please.

    Poverty and racism go hand in hand. We have to fight across the board to make this world a better place.


  •  I want the source of this BBC report. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kidneystones, lemming22

    Not from you but from the BBC. The fact that they use the term "may have" sends up the biggest red flag ever. It sounds too much like the alleged Kuwaiti nurse telling tales of incubators being unplugged while Iraqi soldiers stood around twirling their mustaches. If I had to guess, I'd say this story originated with an anti stem cell research group who got a little too creative and zealous. I have little doubt that I'll see this debunked soon.

    Land in your hand you'll be happy on earth Then invest in the Church for your heaven.

    by Splicer on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 05:11:25 AM PST

    •  Like this? (0+ / 0-)

      one opinion

      Another consequence of banning or restricting stem cell research and eventually therapies is the potential for unregulated risky activities to be undertaken, refusing government funding for research leads to these activities ending up in private hands-resulting in even greater "commodification" of humanity. Banning this work altogether raises the spectre of a black-market in body parts and a user pays system with those able to afford it travelling to more liberal locales where they can undergo therapy "at their own risk.


    •  I wondered too (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ahianne, Splicer, kidneystones

      So I went looking. The Scotsman frames it like this:

      The National Ukrainian Federation of Multiple-child Families triggered international attention when it suggested last year that organs and possibly live babies were being taken and sold through Ukrainian hospitals.

      It reports that some mothers fear healthy babies were taken from them at birth, either to be trafficked abroad, or possibly murdered so their organs could be removed. The campaigners believe video footage of exhumed infant corpses indicates that their dismemberment was not compatible with a normal post-mortem.

      Instead, it suggests that missing body parts were removed and sold while stem cells may also have been extracted from the infants' bone marrow for medical research.

      Ukrainian health officials have vehemently denied the accusations.

      The Council of Europe has two investigations, looking at the country's general human rights record and the baby organ issue.

      In other words, this is a report of an in-country organization with (to date) no international track record, and has not been validated by the Council of Europe.

      This press release of the Council respecting the ongoing fact-finding trip of their HR Commissioner in the Ukraine does not mention these allegations.

      In terms of known facts this must as yet be regarded as an unsubstantiated allegation. Perhaps someone else can evaluate the biological plausibility of the allegations (i.e., why slaughter newborns when embryos work better?).

  •  Why? (6+ / 0-)

    That BBC report is rather thin on evidence that infanticide is being committed to harvest stem cells. You can't get embryonic stem cells except from a days-old embryo. If you wait for birth, there are lots of somewhat differentiated stem cells from the umbilical cord. One doesn't have to kill a baby for them. Maybe babies are indeed being killed for their organs to transplant or something else. That doesn't say anything about abortion or stem cell research.

    •  I suppose it was the cut-up bodies the (0+ / 0-)

      forensic pathologist noticed. Then there's this from pro-stem-cell researcher Dr. Stephen Minger on financially induced abortions

      The science behind the treatments on offer at IRM is based on the theory that stem cells from aborted foetuses may search out damaged and dead cells in the body and work to repair and replace them,' says Dr Stephen Minger, director of stem cell biology at King's College, London.

      'But what this clinic is doing raises serious issues. For a start, it is not regulated by any medical board and there is no documented evidence or controlled clinical trials to back up their claims. More worryingly, there is no proof that the tissue is obtained from truly elective abortions rather than financially induced ones.

  •  Meanwhile we wait (7+ / 0-)

    My son went to a major university yesterday for his annual (paraplegia) examination. The head physician said: "Maybe with this new government, we can get somewhere now--like Brazil, Argentina, China..." He's way too optimistic. He sent my son home to keep exercising, trying like hell to prevent permanent atrophy while the pol's dither.

    But this column makes an important point about the stupid arguments of the "far right" stem cell opponents. This research is happening now. If it is not regulated by government, it is relegated to the private sector--and we all know how moral that is.

    P.S. The report above is total nonsense, as babies don't have stem cells.

  •  this is a different use of stem cells (5+ / 0-)

    While I agree with  your point that we need a regulated stem cell policy, this horror is happening because desparate people thinik that just injecting themselves with these stem cells will make them young or cure them.

    This is not happening to facilitate REAL stem cell research,

    •  Could you say more about this: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      desparate people thinik that just injecting themselves with these stem cells will make them young or cure them.

      I don't doubt it at all, I'd just never heard of it.  

      "Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you." -- Fry, Futurama

      by LithiumCola on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 05:46:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Get wood. Really. Check out the link here (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SarahLee, litho

        look younger

        Destination: Moscow: The Cellulite Clinic.

        The treatment: Anti-ageing injections of stem cells from aborted foetuses into thighs, buttocks and stomach -

        £10,000 to £15,000 for a course of six.

        More than 50 clinics, including this one, have sprung up in Russia's capital over the past three years to meet the demand from wealthy Russians and Westerners alike who flock to the global capital of cosmetic stem-cell therapy, where clinics use loopholes in the law to administer injections.

        Nearby Ukraine is home to Emcell, the world's largest clinic that has openly experimented in stem-cell therapy for the past 15 years and administers hundreds of anti-ageing therapies a year.

        The promise: Treatments range from the injection of stem cells from animals such as cows and pigs to injecting cells taken from the umbilical cords or livers of aborted human foetuses. 'Foetal tissue has been shown to be highly rich in regenerative stem cells which, when injected into adults, helps the body fight the ageing process,' says Dr Elena Bochkaryova.

        People think we're making this shit up? Ten thousand pounds is real money.

        And don't think there aren't whackos who'll try to broaden their product line by "promising the ULTIMATE".

  •  The wingnuts will seize on this... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, kidneystones evidence of the evils of stem cell research and try to say stem cell research = abortion = murder.

    This argument is flagrantly incorrect.  The truth is that this is what happens when legitimate governments refuse to step up to the plate and fund research that shows the promise of miracle cures.  People still want the miracle cures, and the whole damn thing goes underground.

    This simply points up the need to have stem cell research carried on by reputable medical scientists who are governed by already existing codes of medical ethics and whose research techniques are constrained by the rigors of peer review.

    That's Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid to you, Mr. Bush.

    by DC Pol Sci on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 08:34:44 AM PST

    •  Exactly, but you're (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DC Pol Sci

      naive if you think murderous charlatans don't traffic in tissue of ALL types. I'm not sure you do.

      Failing to properly fund stem-cell research simply allows all kinds of criminals to set up their own independent facilities where God alone knows what crimes take place.

      In many cases, perhaps nearly all, no infant or late-term fetus is killed.

      My guess is that when profit is the bottom line, there isn't much these folks won't do.

  •  Until the 19th century (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, kidneystones

    it was against British law to dissect a human cadaver unless it was an executed criminal's body.  Since the number of executed criminals was failing to supply the obvious need for doctors, scientists and medical schools, a thriving business in grave robbing sprang up.  Inevitably some people began to think it would be easier for their trade to manufacture their own corpses, as the famous pair of serial killers Burke and Hare did.  

    That being said, if I were an editor I would investigate these allegations much more thoroughly before reporting on them, mainly because baby killing doesn't seem very cost effective when you can harvest cells from an umbilical cord that would otherwise be discarded.

    As far as these phony "youth" clinics go, wouldn't it be easier to just tell the patient you are injecting them with stem cells and then inject them with saline for $10,000 a pop?  I mean if the purported therapy is phony anyway?  Much less trouble than buying embryos off the black market.

    "Silflay hraka u embleer rah!" --Bigwig

    by Reepicheep on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 09:11:05 AM PST

  •  Tag Corrections (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Stem-cell research" changed to "Stem Cell Research" without the hyphen.

    "Dems" changed to "Democrats"

    The "2008" tag was removed since this diary is not primarily about the 2008 elections or an event that happened in 2008 (since we are not there yet.)  

    If you want a 2008 elections tag, then please use the standard "2008 elections" instead of "2008" alone.  When doing tag cleanup we learned that too many people are using "year" tags alone to designate non-election events that happen in a certain year.


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