Wednesday, September 29, 2010

40 Days, and ESCR

As the United States Court of Appeals decides that embryo-killing stem cell research can continue with federal funding for now, I'd like to highlight two excellent recent blog posts on ESCR and stem-cell research.

The first, from NewsBusters' Tom Blumer, points out a continuing media mistake regarding stem cells and ESCR:

It is truly remarkable to observe how press outlets continue to misreport and misinform the public in the area of stem cell research.

One of the latest examples came yesterday at the Associated Press. In a report covering a court ruling on government funding of embryonic stem cell research (ESCR), the AP's Nedra Pickler completely failed to acknowledge that there are any other kinds of stem cells. Every single use by Pickler of the terms "stem cell" or "stem cells" has no modifying adjective, except the very first, whose modifier is "embryonic."

It's as if there are no other avenues besides ESCR for "scientific progress toward potentially lifesaving medical treatment." In fact, Pickler's less-informed readers would have no reason to believe that there is any form of stem cell research besides ESCR. The reality, which will be shown later for the umpteenth time, is that non-embryonic stem cells, often referred to as adult stem cells, have already shown that they can do virtually everything embryonic cells can with far less potential for side effects and, of course, no loss of human life. The word "adult" does not appear in the AP report.

Read the rest here.

The second comes from First Things writer Wesley J. Smith, who points out an astonishing attempt to make adult stem cells the moral equivalent of embryo-killing stem cells:

Stem cell bioethicists apparently have claimed that IPSCs–skin or other cells reprogrammed to be stem cells–”are as morally fraught” as ESCR–stem cells taken from destroying human embryos. Baloney. ESCR is, by the very way the cells are derived and used, unethical. Nascent human lives are destroyed and transformed into mere natural resources. The ethical issue in inherent. In contrast, the ethical perils with IPSC described in the Scientific American article deal with hypothetical future ethically questionable uses to which IPSCs might be put.

Read the rest here.

In other words, the bioethicists claim that simply because it could potentially be possible to clone human life using adult cells, destroying them in stem-cell research is the same thing, morally, as destroying a human embryo. Who is, himself or herself, already a new human life. And who must die as a result of the research. Whereas the adult skin cells or tissue cells or whatever are not a new human life, and killing them as a result of research is no more immoral than scratching off a few mosquito-bitten skin cells with your fingernails.

But hey, these are professional bioethicists we're talking about. It takes a bioethicist to decide that killing disabled newborns might be a morally ethical and good act, after all--we stupid amateurs could never have figured that one out on our own. So when they tell us that killing a human being in her embryonic stage is exactly the same thing as killing some skin cells, we'd better pay attention, right?

Wrong.

Maybe we'd better start using the acronym EKSCR to mean "Embryo-killing stem cell research." In that way we can point out the ethical difference between this research and adult stem cell research, which does not, in fact, kill any adults in the process.

4 comments:

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Ugh, we're living in the future, and it turns my stomach.
Unfortunately EKSCR probably won't bother a lot of people since, sadly, so many don't mind killing embryos. :'(
But it's a good try.

Thanks for fighting the good fight.

MightyMighty said...

I was at a museum in St. Louis where the section on stem cells was just as misleading as could be. In fact, there was an outright lie, "So far, adult stem cells have not shown to be very useful in treating illnesses."

Or, only adult stem cells have been useful, and are used to treat 70 illnesses. No biggie. Keep up with the publicly-funded brainwashing of children.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Well, the IPSCs do have the full genetic programming to create a whole new human being. Once the DNA is put into a new cell wall, isn't it just as morally hazardous to interrupt this "new life," or to limit what could be a new human being by forcing it to only become a new liver? Yes, there are epigentic differences in cell chemistry, but if a single cell can be a human being, what's the difference?

Anonymous said...

Today's paper has news of adult cells being able to be stimulated for reprogramming that are every bit as successful as those from embryos. However, it was mentioned that embryonic cells will still be required to "validate" the efficacy of the other cells. In other words, they are the gold standard against which the others must be measured.

So adult cells are not going to do away with embryonic cells any time soon, apparently.

elizabeth