WASHINGTON — Anti-abortion activist Lila Rose is warning Republicans that their support for the Ice Bucket Challenge drives support for embryonic stem-cell research, which she says contributes to the "culture of death" surrounding legalized abortion thanks to the ALS Association projects that include embryonic stem cell research.
"It hurts the pro-life cause, which calls for a consistent, cohesive ethic on the dignity of ALL human life, when pro-life politicians take part in gimmicks or events, however well-intended, that contribute directly and unapologetically to the culture of death," Rose told BuzzFeed Thursday when asked what message she has for anti-abortion politicians who do the Ice Bucket Challenge.
"Abortion advocates often accuse us of elevating the fetus's rights above the mother's. But the truth is that we want equal rights for all — including between the innocent pre-born and those with ALS," she added. "Consistency in this is literally a matter of life and death."
ALS ice bucket challenges have been posted to YouTube by many socially conservative politicians, including former President George W. Bush, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, North Carolina Reps. Renee Ellmers and Mark Meadows, Alabama Rep. Martha Roby. The program has raised millions for ALS-related charities, most notably the ALS Association.
Meanwhile, a debate has raged in anti-abortion circles over the challenge. The American Life League lists the Association as a charity "not worthy of support from pro-lifers." Multiple stories on LifeNews.com have been devoted to ALS Association stem cell research. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has tried to thread the needle between support for the viral sensation — and those with ALS — by allowing the challenge at the schools it runs but forbidding money raised from going to the ALS Foundation.
Rose and other anti-abortion leaders aren't opposed to ALS research or donating money to the cause of curing the disease. But ice bucketing is closely associated with the ALS Association, which Rose and others are warning people away from. Some abortion opponents are suggesting their own ALS Association-free ice bucketing.
Rose suggested a list of charities Republican politicians can support with their ice bucket funds, including the John Paul II Medical Research Institute. That pitch appears to be working: Time reports the John Paul charity "has received dozens of donations per hour in recent days" where it usually "only receives a couple donations each day."
An anti-abortion activist known in the community for her undercover videos from inside Planned Parenthood clinics that have made her a social conservative sensation.
For now, Rose appears to be among the few anti-abortion leaders willing to take on the wildly popular ice bucket challenge. The anti-abortion community is usually not one to shy away from the spotlight, but when it comes to the viral fundraising sensation, the community is uncharacteristically quiet despite the internal debate. A spokesperson at National Right To Life did not make anyone available for comment, and none of the Republican politicians BuzzFeed reached spoke on the record.
For its part, an ALS Association spokesperson says it has systems in place to deal with sensitivities around stem cell research.
"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); this research is funded by one specific donor, who is committed to this area of research," an Association spokesperson said in a statement. "In fact, donors may stipulate that their funds not be invested in this study or any stem cell project. Under very strict guidelines, The Association may fund embryonic stem cell research in the future."