Special to The Interim

Pro-life Canadians who want to donate money to medical research often find themselves in an ethical dilemma. Most organizations supporting disease research in Canada have policies supporting the use of human beings at the embryonic stage for living research test subjects.

On March 4, 2002, the Cancer Society wrote in a media release: “The Canadian Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC) fully support, and will implement, the human embryonic stem cell research guidelines announced today by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research at a media conference in Ottawa.” Since the passage of Canada’’s reproductive technologies act, the embryos have been made available to researchers and pro-life donors are left in a quandary.

One pro-life Canadian, Michael Vande Wiel, took the initiative to contact an alternative organization, the Cancer Research Society. Vande Wiel told that he wrote to the Canadian Cancer Research Society for its position on using stem cells derived from living human embryos. The society responded, “It has always been the society’s policy not to fund or support any research on human embryos, and not to support stem cell research.”

The Cancer Research Society was founded in 1945 by a group of women to raise funds exclusively for cancer research in the form of university and hospital research grants. Their website says, “In the last six years, the Cancer Research Society has funded over $30 million of research across Canada.”

Bert Eccles, the Society’s director of individual major gifts, wrote to Vande Wiel, saying that though the society has funded research with stem cells, they were derived from the patient’s blood and bone marrow, not from embryos. Eccles wrote, “There is currently no reason to believe that these cells have any potential to contribute to normal tissues, and that very unlikely possibility was not being investigated in this study. In other words, strictly and scientifically, the Cancer Research Society does not pursue stem cell research.”

You can contact the Cancer Research Society through the web at, or by calling 1-888-766-2262.