California Stem Cell Agency Apologizes for Offensive Poem on Web Site

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 13, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California Stem Cell Agency Apologizes for Offensive Poem on Web Site

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 13
, 2010

Sacramento, CA ( — The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine has apologized for a publishing a poem celebrating embryonic stem cell research that a pro-life legal group said was blasphemous.

The institute is the agency funded by $3 billion in taxpayer funds, most all of which have gone to embryonic stem cell research that has never helped any patients.

The poem by Tyron Anderson, one of two prize-winning pieces in the October 6 contest, begins ‘This is my body which is given for you’ and ends, ‘Take this in remembrance of me,’ unambiguous references to Christ’s words at the Last Supper.

However, the poem is meant to celebrate the destruction of human life that is necessary for scientists to obtain embryonic stem cells for research.

In a statement issued before the poem had been removed from the CIRM website, the Life Legal Defense Foundation pro-life law firm told, “California stem cell agency rewards blasphemy while admitting the humanity of embryos slated for destruction.”

“The choice of this poem for a prize represents the deliberate pilfering of the holiest of voluntary, sacrificial acts in the history of humanity for a shoddy pep piece in CIRM’s campaign to promote the wholesale destruction of human life," the pro-life law firm said.

“Beyond the blasphemy, however, is the poem’s inadvertent acknowledgment of the personhood of these embryos whom the CIRM otherwise sees merely as a source from which to harvest pluripotent stem cells,” the LLDF statement continued.

In its own statement issued with the removal of the poem, CIRM said it would remove the selection, meant to in honor of “Stem Cell Awareness Day,” on October 6.

“CIRM recently announced two winners of the second annual poetry contest, one of which contained some religious language that is identical to liturgical language used in the context of Christian and Catholic sacraments,” said a statement posted Friday on the Institute’s website. “The language introduces a religious element that we now realize was offensive to some people.”

“We are deeply sorry for any offense caused by the poem,” said the statement. “Neither the author nor CIRM intended for the language to insult or offend any religious group. When CIRM recognized that the language was of concern we removed all four poems from the CIRM web site and from the Stem Cell Awareness Day web site.”

LLDF president Dana Cody continued the response from the pro-life law firm.

“The poem’s premise is that the embryo is a person wishing to give its life,” she said. “But why we should assume that the embryo is saying, ‘Let me help,’ rather than ‘Let me live’?"

She concluded: "Are these scientists attempting to assuage their guilt over their exploitation of and experimentation on unconsenting human subjects by telling themselves that the victims really want to give up their lives?”


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