The American Wisdom Series

Pamphlet #542

Embryonic research destroys life for its stem cells
by Suzanne Doller, a registered nurse from Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Embryonic stem cell research - research, which implicit in its practice, destroys a living embryo for the sake of its stem cells.

The human embryo fits the scientific definition of human life, from its DNA to the number of chromosomes which define the species.  The human embryo is not potential life, it is life in its earliest development - the first of many transitional stages that constitute the life continuum of the human person.

Unfortunately, the dehumanization of the living embryo into a sub-human entity appears necessary by societal standards to justify embryonic exploitation and destruction under the guise of the "common good."  This is a falsification of truth which has been repeated many times against vulnerable populations throughout history - all with tragic results.

As is widely known, human embryonic stem cell research is still speculative, yielding no substantive results to date.  Adult stem cell research has been proven successful with actual patient treatment in over 70 different disease processes, and coupled with the emergence of new sources for stem cell harvesting (most recently from amniotic fluid), the future of adult stem cell research should be limitless.

Unfortunately scientists involved with adult stem cell research are having difficulty obtaining funding for research and development despite their success.  The promotion of embryonic research has funneled private money away from the only successful and ethical means of obtaining stem cells, into an unproven area where results admittedly may be decades away if at all.

When and if embryonic stem cell research produces results, the application of the stem cell treatment to an actual patient is even more controversial.  Transplanting stem cell or tissue generated from an embryo to a patient will always carry the risk of rejection, since like organ transplantation, the cells are derived from another person.  In order to transplant bio-identical cells without risk of rejection, somatic cell nuclear transfer or cloning must take place for successful treatment.  The newly created human clone is made from an enucleated donor egg and the individual's genetic material.

The monumental ethical problems arising from cloned human life need not be discussed here.  Adult stem cell treatment avoids the moral quagmire of cloning by using the patient's own stem cells, which are not likely to be rejected.  Funding for adult stem cell research will be further hampered when scientists, and they surely will, start spending money for therapeutic cloning.

For people of faith having difficulty gaining moral clarity about stem cell research, please consider these next few comments.  Human life begins at fertilization.  God breathes life into a soul at the moment of its creation.  The sacred humanity of the embryo and all human life is innate from its beginning.

If you agree with these statements, I humbly submit that you cannot agree with the prospect of destroying human embryos for research or for any other reason.  Any ethical issues regarding the current status for frozen human embryos should always be decided for the beneficence of that individual embryonic life, not for the convenience or improvement of another.

It is always interesting to note that some who support embryonic stem cell research for humanitarian reasons extend none of the same "good will" to those at the very beginning of life and often times to those at the very end of it.  How we treat the smallest and most vulnerable among us will define our greatness as a people and a nation.

Please let others know that you are opposed to funding the destruction of human embryos for their stem cells and that you are in favor of proven successes of adult stem cell research.

If you agree, pass this on to everyone you know.

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