While the ALS Association’s viral ice bucket challenge has brought in nearly $42 million since July 29 — in comparison to just $2.1 million during the same time period last year — some are protesting the challenge or, at the least, opting not to donate to the organization.
Consider that the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has asked principals at local Catholic schools not to encourage students to participate in the fundraising portion of the campaign due to the ALS Association’s funding of a study that involves embryonic stem cell research.
Instead, they are sending any funds raised through any of the fun-filled and chilly ice dumping antics to John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa, a medical research organization where only adult stem cells are used, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Some believe that embryonic stem cell research, which typically leads to the destruction of embryonic cells, will lead to health care advances and cures to certain diseases. But many pro-life activists and religious individuals disagree with destroying life in order to sustain it, leading to an ethical conundrum for some.
Carrie Munk, a representative for the ALS Association, confirmed to TheBlaze Thursday that the organization is currently funding one study that involves embryonic stem cells. In a subsequent statement, the organization said that it is committed to “leaving no stone unturned in the quest to discover effective treatments and a cure for Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”
While the organization primarily funds adult stem research — a far less controversial form of research — the ALS Association, which works to combat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a neurological illness, willingly offered up information about the funding of its current embryonic study.
“The ALS Association primarily funds adult stem cell research. Currently, The Association is funding one study using embryonic stem cells (ESC), and the stem cell line was established many years ago under ethical guidelines set by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS),” the statement read. “This research is funded by one specific donor, who is committed to this area of research.”
Munk also told TheBlaze in a phone interview and subsequent written statement that any donors who have ethical concerns with this particular study are free to stipulate that the money they donate not be used for the study or for any other related stem cell project.
“The Association believes that stem cell research is an evolving field that holds the potential to provide benefit to people with ALS in the future,” the release read. “The pursuit of stem cell research with appropriate scientific review and ethical guidelines directly furthers the mission of The ALS Association in finding a cure for and improving living with ALS.”
Tipsters told TheBlaze earlier this week that a page on the ALS Association’s website detailing information on adult and embryonic stem cells had been taken down. As of Thursday morning that page was still inaccessible, though the organization republished it Thursday.
Munk explained that the page was taken down while the organization was updating some information “because it was a couple of years old” to ensure that it was still accurate.
Later, in an email, she said that the content, which is once again available, was originally posted in 2009 or 2010 and that no changes were made to the page before it was republished.
The ALS Association recently announced 21 new projects it plans to fund with $3.5 million in research monies, but that none of the new studies will involve embryonic stem cells.