Stem Cell Research Ferry Will Avoid Ireland Law in Abortion Ship Redux

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 1, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Stem Cell Research Ferry Will Avoid Ireland Law in Abortion Ship Redux Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 1, 2006

Cork, Ireland ( — A company that has come under fire in the United States is planning its own version of the abortion ship using a ferry in international waters to avoid Irish limits on a controversial stem cell therapy. Because it hasn’t been thoroughly vetted, Ireland doesn’t permit the experimental stem cell treatment.

Advanced Cell Therapeutics, which is based in the United States and has offices in Geneva and a London, has been supplying stem cells from umbilical cord blood to centers around the world.

The stem cells, unlike those from embryonic stem cell research, don’t pose any ethical problems and adult stem cells have already produced dozens of treatments and cures. However, ACT is apparently hyping a potential cure for repairing the spinal nerve damage that causes MS.

Scientists say that the cells haven’t yet provided such treatments and the therapies are not allowed in the UK. Meanwhile, ACT is coming under fire because it took over a company that received criticism from U.S. officials for marketing fraudulent cures.

According to the London Guardian newspaper, ACT recently took over Biomark International, which closed in 2003 after an FDA investigation. Biomark’s founders now face multiple indictments for selling false treatments.

The Irish Medicines Board has acted to stop the false stem cell research treatments that were recently being given to patients at the Road Medical Centre in Carrigaline. Hundreds of patients from around the UK have made appointments to go there.

In a statement provided by the Board to the Guardian, it confirmed "that it is aware of the stem cell therapy being conducted in the Cork region … [It is] conducting an investigation into this practice."

However, ACT officials are looking to use a boat to take patients into international waters 12 miles away from the Irish coast in much the same way a pro-abortion group used a Dutch tugboat to give the dangerous abortion drug RU 496 to women in Poland and Portugal, where abortions are illegal.

The Guardian reports that ACT will book patients on to the Cork to Swansea ferry.

"ACT is offering a convenient alternative, which involves an examination and preliminary consultation at the Cork clinic on the scheduled day of your treatment," it wrote to patients who had made appointments. "Administration of stem cell therapy will take place in international waters aboard the ferry. The cost of the return ferry and one night’s accommodation will be covered by ACT."

John Dunphy, who runs the Cork clinic, told the newspaper that he doesn’t plan on treating patients on the ferry.

"You will have to speak to ACT. I’m merely facilitating ACT. We are looking for any legal way to treat them," he said.

Dunphy is being investigated by the Irish Medical Council about the matter.