by Steven Ertelt
October 19, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The mainstream media was abuzz earlier this week with reports that researchers at MIT had found new success with alternative forms of embryonic stem cell research that supposedly don’t involve the destruction of unborn human life to obtain the cells.
However, Dr. David Stevens of the Christian Medical Association says that claim that the two alternative procedures resolve ethical concerns misses the mark.
One procedure involves programming an embryo genetically so that it cannot successfully implant and develop in the uterus to become a baby. Stevens says that doesn’t make the created human embryo any less human.
"Just because scientists have created a genetic time bomb in the embryo does not change its essential human nature," he said. "If a scientist removed most of the intestines of a newborn baby, that action would cause the baby to die later. That wouldn’t give them the right to kill the child in order to transplant its organs."
Opposition and concern about the process reached all the way to Britain where Josephine Quintavalle of the medical ethics group CORE said the human embryo is a human life no matter what its future prospects.
"It is nevertheless an embryo for the duration of its shortened life, and therefore our objections remain in place," she explained. "Respect for the human embryo is not based on its life expectancy. While it exists it is living and the research brings that life to an end."
Another procedure involves removing a cell from an eight-cell embryo, then developing that removed cell in order to harvest embryonic stem cells.
Dr. Stevens says that process is actually "artificial identical twinning" and that the first human embryo may not be destroyed in the research process but the second one will.
"So to emphasize that the original embryo is not killed is actually to employ a scientific sleight of hand. Researchers using this process may not destroy the first embryo, but they do destroy the second one," Stevens explained.
Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council said the unborn child who has one of their cells removed should not be subject to such experiments. He worries about what kind of effect the process will have on such children.
"More animal research is warranted to answer questions raised by these studies" before research on humans occurs, Perkins explained.
"In the meantime, we should continue to support the kind of stem cell research that has already shown great promise, using adult stem cells from umbilical cord blood and other sources," Perkins added.