Summary: Sanctity of Life Sunday-- Q & A on stem cells, cloning, euthanasia, and physician-assisted suicide. Link included to formatted text, and PowerPoint Presentation.
God Love ‘em, pt. 2: “Killing Me Softly”
Sanctity of Life Q & A
Q. What is a stem cell?
A. A stem cell is a cell that has the potential to develop into different types of cells. Stem cells are the basic building blocks of the human body. In embryos, these master cells develop into the 200 or so distinct cell types in the body. In adults, stem cells act as nature’s repair kit to replenish existing cells when they wear out or are destroyed.
Q. Where do stem cells come from?
A. All of our bodies contain stem cells. In research, there are primarily two types of stem cells: embryonic and non-embryonic (also called "adult"). Both types are developmentally flexible. Embryonic stem cells come from five-to seven-day human embryos. In order to collect these cells, a living, human embryo must be destroyed.
Adult stem cells come from a variety of sources, including skin cells, bone marrow, placenta, umbilical cord blood and body fat. No human lives are destroyed in harvesting adult stem cells. 1
Q. Why is it wrong to destroy embryos for their stem cells?
A. Biologically, an embryo represents one of the earliest stages of human life. Human development progresses in a continuum, from the single cell to the embryonic stage, then a fetus, newborn, toddler, adolescent and adult. Embryos, whether created through in vitro fertilization, cloning or sexual intercourse, are fully human and deserve protection. The weakest and most vulnerable member of the human family — the embryo — should not be the subject of scientific experimentation. It is never morally or ethically justified to destroy one human in order to possibly save another. Advances in adult stem cell research provide both tangible hope for patients and an ethical avenue for developing the therapies they need.
Q. Where do human embryos used in embryonic stem-cell research come from?
A. Initial embryonic stem-cell research centered on destroying embryos created by in-vitro fertilization (IVF), an assisted reproductive technology. Most clinics offering IVF create additional embryos that are not implanted but frozen for use in later pregnancy attempts. Sometimes parents who have their desired number of children “donate” these additional embryos to science for destructive embryo research.
More recently, scientists have turned to human cloning for embryonic stem-cell research, creating new human life for the sole purpose of destroying it. As researchers perfect human cloning techniques, we can expect to see more young humans cloned and destroyed for this type of scientific inquiry.
Dissecting tiny humans for their cells is unethical and immoral. For instance, convicted criminals on death row would make excellent research subjects and are destined to die anyway. Why not allow scientists to conduct experiments on these men and women before they are executed by the state for their crimes? Of course, we would never allow such experiments on adult humans, but somehow embryonic humans can be dismembered in the laboratory without question.