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May 25, 2005

"Killing Nine Lives to Create One"

By Byron LaMasters

It's nice to see a pro-life Democrat point out the sheer lunacy and hypocrisy of the arguments of those who oppose embryonic stem cell research. Since half of embryos of potential "snowflake babies" do not survive the "thawing" process, a consistent pro-lifer would argue that such process constituted "destruction of a human life in order to save a human life". Hmmm... that sounds familiar.

For pro-lifers conflicted on embryonic stem cell research, read this post on Greg's Opinion.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at May 25, 2005 11:28 AM | TrackBack


I was thinking about this issue the other day. Pro-life absolutists lost this battle the moment the first test-tube baby was born, decades ago.

The issue under debate has moved on from whether to create human embryos to what are acceptable uses for human embryos.

There are legitimate debates over how far use of embryos will go (e.g. reproductive cloning) but the genie is out of the bottle and there is no way we're going back.

Posted by: Mike Walker at May 25, 2005 04:46 PM

Since when is saving or improving human life lacking in respect or dignity. Some could argue that their is no higher calling than the alleviation of human suffering or the saving of human life, which is exactally what these embryos which may be used for stem cell research would be participating in. This must be infinately more respectfull and dignified an end than becoming "bio-Waste". Which is the ultimate end of the vast majority of these embryos now. Now that is truly a Waste of life.

Posted by: comeon at May 26, 2005 09:56 AM

This is an issue that causes me some concern, as I believe life begins at conception and the idea of tinkering with life for scientific research conjures up some scary images (Brave New World, anyone?). But I think that stem-cell research is valid.

The reason is simple-- these embryos are going to be destroyed anyways. They cannot survive. In the instance that a living being cannot live, why not utilize it to improve the lives of others? I think of it as being roughly similar to organ donation-- someone dies or is near death and we harvest their organs in order to save the lives of others. The analogy is not terribly complete, as we don't kill people to harvest their organs, but we must remember that these embryos are virtually dead in that they will never develop into a baby.

Still, I think we should promote adoption of these embryos and perhaps we could avoid some of the concerns of the opposition were we to devote part of the money-- a few million a year perhaps-- to promotion and facilitation of embryonic adoption. We double our money by developing new technologies to save lives and saving these particular lives through adoption.

Posted by: Andrew Dobbs at May 26, 2005 02:28 PM

There is a legitimate distinction between producing human embryos in order to create a life and mass producing human embryos in order to harvest stem cells. IVF remains controversial among some, but those who oppose cloning do so on the grounds that producing life knowing that it will be destroyed is different.

Posted by: snrub at May 26, 2005 03:43 PM

But in IVF, for every one embryo that is given a life many more either fail or are not used, so one could as the same question of IVF. Is it acceptable to sacrifice all these embryos so that a few can have a life? (Adoption may save a few, but many more will still end up being destroyed.)

Today, society's answer is yes - even some "life begins at conception" pro-lifer people have used IVF (which seems a bit of a contradiction of their views to me!).

It will be interesting to see where this debate goes in the future. One day we may have the technology to grow a (brainless) clone for harvesting "spare parts". That certainly has a huge "ick" factor today, and I expect religious objections will be a major factor in the future. But in the end... I don't know... the drive for life is very strong.

Put it this way - bioethicists will find plenty of employment for a long time to come.

Posted by: Mike Walker at May 26, 2005 05:38 PM

Keep in mind, the cloning of stem cells is not the same as cloning embryos. I can clone cheek cells from my mouth, but I am not cloning little me's, just cheek cells. The cloning of embryonic stems cells would be similar, you would not be cloning multiple embryos, only using the stemcells to clone more stem cells.

Posted by: comeon at May 27, 2005 08:01 AM

That is 100% incorrect. The only place to get embryonic stem cells is from embryos, which need to be created.

Posted by: snrub at May 27, 2005 09:14 AM

You are correct, of course embryos need to be created in order to get stem cells from them, however you are still 100% wrong with regard to my point.
Assumedly, said embryos have allready been and will continue to be created for the purposes of ivf, there are many more fetuses created and later discarded for this purpose than would be necessary to carry out a successfull research program.
as far as cloning is concerned, single cells can be cloned, therefor from the stemcells obtained from a fetus, an indefinate number of stemcells could be cloned, this would not be at all the same as cloning whole fetuses.

Posted by: comeon at May 27, 2005 02:48 PM

First, I'm pretty sure assumedly is not a word. Second, no, an indefinite number of stem cells cannot be cloned from the stem cells of a fetus. Third, the reason that embryonic stem cells are desired is because of their ability to form any type of cell; this ability is lost after a certain period of time so comparing the two really does not make sense. Though you are correct about IVF.

Posted by: snrub at May 27, 2005 08:30 PM

O.K., I was simply addressing many individuals "fear" of cloning, and pointing out that when scientists use the term with regard to stem cell research, creating multiple copies of an entire fetus is not what they are speaking of, which seems to be the fear of many who oppose this research.
Many people missunderstand the process of cell culture "proliferation of stem cells from a fetus" as cloning. It was this fear I was addressing in my statement.
While embryonic stem cells can not now be profliferated indefinately, they are desired not only for the totipotence but additionally for their abilllity to be proliferated in the laboratory for very long periods of time (often years) without differentiation.
It was primarily the fear of "creating humans" for the sole purpose of using them for research, which is not the plan of any credible scientists that my comment was meant to address without going into a lengthy technical discussion.
Oh and yea, sorry again, but assumedly is a word. Don't believe me, check your dictionary.

Posted by: comeon at May 31, 2005 09:24 AM
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