AS I SEE IT
by SUZANNE DOLLER
Embryonic Research Destroys Life for its Stem Cells
In January of this year the US House of Representatives passed
the Stem Cell Research and Enhancement Act of 2007 by a vote of
253 to 174. The Senate vote on this bill (S 5) is imminent. The
passage of this bill would provide federal funding for 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 it's 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 to a sub-human entity appears
necessary 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
for over 70 disease processes, and, coupled with the emergence
of new sources for stem cell harvesting (most recently from amniotic
fluid whose pluropotency rivals embryonic cells), the future of
adult stem cell research should be limitless. Unfortunately scientists
involved with adult stem cells 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. Now congress is asking taxpayers to do the same.
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 cells or tissue obtained
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 obtain transplantable bio-identical cells without the
risk of rejection, somatic cell nuclear transfer or cloning must
take place for successful treatment. The human clone is manufactured
from an enucleated donor egg and the individuals' genetic material
. This newly cloned human embryo is then destroyed for use of its
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. Although cloning is not addressed
in this specific legislation, federal funding for therapeutic cloning
will quickly follow if this bill is approved.
For people of faith having difficulty gaining moral clarity about
embryonic stem cell research, please consider these next few comments.
Human life begins at fertilization.
God breathes life into a soul at the moment of it's 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 any other reason. Any ethical issues regarding
the status of 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 claim to support
embryonic stem cell research for humanitarian reasons, extend none
of that 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 our fellow
man says a lot about us. How we treat the smallest and most vulnerable
among us will define our greatness as a people and a nation.
Please let your Senators know that you are opposed to Senate Bill
S-5 which would fund the destruction of human embryos for their
stem cells, in favor of the proven successes of adult stem cell
(first printed in the Harrisburg Patriot- News January