A professor of mathematics at University College Cork (UCC) has slammed the university’s recent decision to begin embryonic stem cell research. Professor Des McHale, also a well-known author, said that he was "deeply ashamed" that UCC’s governing body had passed the proposal to begin the unethical research and called on students, parents and the general public to make their voices heard against the decision.
Professor McHale made his remarks at a packed seminar organized by the pro-life group "Youth Defence in University College Cork." "I am deeply, deeply ashamed of the situation. Not everyone here agrees with it. The vote by the governing council was a tie, passed only by a casting vote by the chairman," he said.
Youth Defence spokeswoman Íde Nic Mhathúna welcomed Professor McHale’s remarks. She and said that more than 200 pro-life volunteers had signed up to undertake a "massive door-to-door canvass of Cork" to explain the issues to the public and to encourage lobbying of UCC and of local politicians, including Minister for Education, Batt O’Keefe, in order to have the proposal approving embryonic stem cell research reversed.
The seminar was also addressed by leading stem cell expert Dr David Prentice and renowned ethicist Wesley Smith, who were sharply critical of embryonic stem cell research, pointing out that not only is it unethical but that, to date, it has provided no successful medical treatments. Dr Prentice drew attention to the 73 medical conditions now being successfully treated by adult stem cell research. "All these successful treatments have been published in scientific and medical journals, where they have been peer-reviewed," he told the audience.
Wesley Smith drew sustained applause from the crowded theatre when he said that embarking on embryonic stem cell research would degrade UCC and urged the university to instead become a centre of excellence for ethical adult stem cell research.
Members of the UCC governing body who last October approved a proposal to begin research on stem cells obtained by destroying human embryos, failed to take part in the UCC debate, while Dr Deirdre Madden who made the proposal to the governing body, was also unwilling to debate the issue with Dr Prentice and Mr Smith. Youth Defence said that the refusal to debate such an important proposal was "telling", and that "the public deserved to know why UCC’s governing body wanted to spend taxpayer funds on lethal embryonic stem cell research."
Dr Prentice and Mr Smith also spoke to full houses in Maynooth University and in Dublin. The seminars are part of a wider campaign organized by Youth Defence raising public awareness about embryo research. "This is the good news about ethical stem cell research that the public needs to hear. But what the public also deserves to hear are the facts about embryonic stem cell research – that it destroys human life and offers no cures," said Íde Nic Mhathúna.