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Autism and Stem Cell Research March 10, 2009

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, Health, Parenting, politics, special needs.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

With a stroke of his pen, President Obama may have just untied the hands of the researchers who needed federal funding so that they may use embryonic stem cells to cure diabetes, MS, Parkinson’s… or even Autism. 

As is often the case, I again find myself in an interesting position when it comes to the impact of something in the mainstream media spotlight. And some people have asked me my opinion on the debate over not only the use of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research… but the use of embryonic stem cells themselves, regardless of the funding source.

You see, I am Catholic. I have a child with autism who could someday benefit from embryonic stem cell research. And I’ve also found myself with a handful of frozen embryos …with no interest in becoming an octo-mom. 

At the risk of over-simplifying things, I am glad we are getting past the moral/religious roadblock that is getting in the way of scientific/medical research which can cure millions of people. 

Some people may say I am not a good Catholic, or not Catholic at all. I see myself as a more “modern” version of a Catholic. (That’s what I imagine about 80% of the Catholics who are under the age of 75 to be.) I have rejected some mandates of the Church, but am a good and charitable person overall. I send my daughter to Catholic school, attend Mass when I can, and volunteer for many, many causes and events. It’s important to me that my son be able to make his Communion some day, even if I must become a religious ed teacher for special needs kids to make that a reality.

I don’t believe I am going to hell because I had my children through IVF (in-vitro fertilization) or because I may donate my frozen embyos to autism research or because my wearing of white at my church wedding was a questionable color choice. There are surely folks who disagree.

I feel that if God really didn’t want me to have children, he would not have created my brilliant doctor. Maybe I needed to overcome obstacles so I’d be strong enough to parent a special needs child. Maybe I would have taken motherhood for granted…as so many moms of typical kids unwittingly and naturally do… if it came easily.

My point is that maybe there is a greater plan than any of us realize when we first look at how our lives are going. Who is to say? Maybe the daughter I conceived through IVF will grow up to be the researcher who cures diabetes.  Maybe if I donated my frozen embryos to autism research, millions of children will be cured. Maybe my own son. Or yours.

Just as we all hope that the world will be more accepting and open-minded toward our special kids, I hope that people …maybe even the Church… will realize how important it is that we look at the bigger picture and the greater good that will be served from the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

Millions of suffering adults and children may someday be cured and saved by using the countless frozen embryos… that would otherwise be discarded … for research purposes.   Is is sad on some level that these embryos are not destined to be transferred into a ready uterus in the hope (not the guarantee) that they’d implant and develop into a viable child? Of course. But that is the reality. They are not going to be. You can’t mandate that the biological parents use them or donate them to another couple. So why discard them?

I do not choose to be an octo-mom. So what is to become of these embryos? Certainly not donation, for what other infertile couple would knowingly choose embryos that may have a genetic predisposition for autism. Am I the only one who sees research as almost a no-brainer option?

And as for the use of federal funds, well, our government is so quick to send money all over the world for all sorts of causes that, again…in my opinion… curing autism or diabetes with embryonic stem cells is at least as important as saving the freakin spotted owl in the yucatan, or whatever.

Although I am defending some of the actions I’ve taken which are contradictory to my faith, I love my faith. With the hand I’ve been dealt, it certainly would be easier to walk away from one’s faith than to stand by it. So, it’s obviously important and a great source of strength to me . I practice as I do rather than not practice at all.

I live my life… and encourage my children to live theirs …by first and foremost being good people who do the right thing. Always. Even when its difficult…especially then.  And do good things for others.

There is an opportunity for those children I will not be having to make a big difference in…maybe even save… the lives of millions.  Maybe save my son. Or yours. I can’t imagine God having a problem with that. 

How do you feel about the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research as a cure for autism and other diseases/disorders?



1. clairelouise82 - March 10, 2009

How can anybody say you would go to hell for having your child through IVF?
If it was the only way for me i would of taken it.
Not everyone is as lucky at falling pregnant, it still dont stop the felling a woman has at wanting to have children!
You hold your head high girl. You have done nothing wrong!

2. pixiemama - March 11, 2009

I am all for IVF and stem cell research. ALL FOR IT, despite the fact that my in-laws are completely against it. But that’s another story…

3. Mary McKinney, League City, TX - March 12, 2009

Honey, I’m right there with you! God loves every child regardless of the human intentions behind them. He would never consider one to be ‘less than’ another child. It’s just that the church thinks that conception outside of the womb takes the ‘love’ somehow out of it, and that is NOT TRUE! There is 10 times more love behind us moms, and even more love, behind us Autism Moms. I desperately need a medical stem cell intervention. This guesswork of hoping my son learns something through a good Preschool Professional or our family is horrible. Other families don’t have to ‘hope’ their child learns to say ‘dog’. Their child WILL learn to say it, but not ours. People have no comprehension, and I’m hoping that the Autism forces are 100 MPH out of the starting gate to find a stem cell cure.

4. acollage - March 18, 2009

To hell for IVF? No way, I don’t care what any human says, God doesn’t send us to hell for any sin, even IF it was a sin…and IVF is not a sin. Ridiculous that someone would even imply that. Meanies abound! 😉

Thanks for the well-wishes for BB on his MRI tomorrow. School called today again, he’s still not feeling well, but he’s going to hang out the whole day…or at least close to it, if I can help it. Missing too much time.

Updates soon.

5. blu3jay - April 3, 2009

It’s not the child who is born that IVF hurts, it’s the others who are killed.

6. hopeauthority - April 20, 2009

I believe we all have the right to our opinions and I am as passionate in my disagreement with yours as you obviously are in your disagreement with mine.

“Killed” is a bit harsh. We are not talking about aborting a developing fetus here. In the case of embryonic stem cell research, we are talking about a few cell embryo, frozen in a lab culture. It is not in a uterus. Even if transferred and given the opportunity for implantation and development into a fetus and then a viable child, its chances for successful implantation are questionable. Maybe you don’t see this distinction, but I do.

An 8 cell discarded embryo feels no pain.

7. TripMom - September 24, 2011

Hi there,

I am in your shoes. I have triplet girls and 1 is autistic. I have 4 frozen embryos that I would like to donate to autistic stem cell research. Did you ever do it?

hopeauthority - September 30, 2011

Hi Trip Mom: I actually work as a blogger for the IVF doc I used and I asked him if the embryos could go specifically to autism research. He said he did not know of any way to make that specification. I’m wondering if you contact autism research groups with the question, if they could make a suggestion. They are more inclined to try to acquire the embryos. I donated mine to research, unspecified.

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