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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Baby Killers, Inc: Ukraine’s Ethical Chernobyl

Following a gory BBC report that put Ukraine as the world’s No. 1 stem cell supplier, the Ukrainian Healthcare Ministry has issued a denial.

The story picked up with a footage of a post mortem exam dating back to 2003, conducted on the bodies of newborns and fetuses exhumed in a probe into a Kharkiv maternity hospital.

Judging by the nature of prior surgical interventions discovered during the exam, namely the openings in the skull and the absence of brain tissue, the bodies could have been harvested for stem cells.

Once the people high up realized the inconvenience it would cause them, further investigation stumbled and died quietly. Somehow, the tape has found its way to the Council of Europe and BBC.

Stem cell research, the cutting edge of microbiology, remains at the forefront of public debate. Religious groups have protested it on ethical grounds, claiming that stem cell research would open a Pandora’s box of issues that only the Creator can deal with. Scientists have defended it, arguing that stem cell research promises a cure for a wide variety of illnesses.

In the highly profitable beauty industry, stem cells go into the production of rejuvenation applications, although their effectiveness has yet to be proved. Often performed in offshore outlets by professionals of questionable standing, these joys of life are affordable to an affluent clientele.

To the Western public, the Ukrainian edition of the “Extreme Makeover” show comes in a satanic script. The BBC report does not preclude the possibility of stem cells being harvested from live babies.

Unlike the Kolchuha story, now largely believed to be an urban legend on par with the Iraqi WMD hoopla, this case requires a mind open to extreme possibilities. Suffice it to say that in Kuchma’s Ukraine journalist beheadings were normal practice while having babies was next to an economic anomaly.

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