The Lamp

Where truth can be shared.

Inching Toward Truth on Stem Cells

Posted by thelamp on August 2, 2006

The current issue of Time Magazine includes an enlightening cover story on stem-cell research (read it here). It helps to bust some of the myths about the morally impermissible practice of human embryonic stem-cell research. Unfortunately, it leaves much unsaid.

The Time story is notable because it differentiates between embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells, which don’t pose any moral objections because they are readily available without destroying human life. Most recent media reports have discussed “stem-cell research” as though there were only one kind, dealing with embryos. Time is to be commended for noting the difference.

The article also points out two important limitations of embryos left over from fertility clinics, which scientists covet as sources of embryonic stem cells: the fact that they are left over from in-vitro fertilization treatments means that they are weaker than those chosen for implantation, and the process of freezing and thawing weakens them further. It also debunks the myth that embryonic stem cells hold any short-term promise for a cure. Even the most optimistic scientists, the article states, admit that cures for conditions such as Parkinson’s disease are “at least a decade away.”

The story, however, has two prominent flaws. First, it glosses over the fact that the recent debate in the U.S. Senate was over how much of your tax dollars to pour into human embryonic stem-cell research, not over its legality. It’s entirely appropriate to deny federal funding for a process that a significant portion of the American public finds morally objectionable. Federal funding for abortions was cut off in the late 1970s for that same reason.

Second, the article belittles and distorts the moral issue involved with human embryonic stem-cell research. Pro-life advocates who insist that this research end are not anti-science; they simply hold ethical standards for the research that is conducted.

CMC stands firmly on the side of life on this issue. Human embryonic stem-cell research should be discontinued until and unless it can be done without destroying embryos, which clearly are nascent human lives. Their destruction is the taking of life every bit as much as abortion is.



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