Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Embryonic Stem Cell Research and the Faith

Yesterday was yet another sad day in this president's administration: President Obama lifted the executive ban on using federal money to support embryonic stem cell research.

Stem cell research is studyng cells that haven't specialized into a particular type of body cell yet. For instance, when an embryo is conceived, that single cell multiplies and multiplies billions of times and during fetal development, the stem cells begin to specialize into particular body cells, such as heart cells, muscle cells, brain cells, etc.

Researches are very keen on being able to manipulate these stem cells because if they could somehow control the cells that become other cells, if a person suffers some degenerative disease, stem cells could be stimulated to become whatever body part needs regeneration and used to restore that person's body: and the great thing is that those cells are from the same genetic make up of the patient and therefore the risk of rejection of a foregin object is eliminated.

It seemed tempting to some scientists that if we could get the cell of a recently fertilized person, before the cells specialize then we have the "freshest" stem cells available. However, this method results in the destruction of a human person (people become people at concetion) for the sake of "harvesting" his or her body parts to experiment on them.

Yeah. Kinda scary.

Well, what makes this worse is that you don't have to take the life of a newly conceived person in order to get stem cells. Adults carry stem cells in their bodies even into adulthood, such as in their bone marrow or fat. These can be obtained without the destruction of human life...seriously, if you want fat for stem cells, you can have some of mine!

Just to make it clear: there is NO moral objection by the Church on adult stem cells...but there is a grave objection to embryonic stem cells since it results in the death of the baby. Furthermore, creating humans in order to harvest their genetic material is wrong, wrong wrong.

It is important to note that ALL studies scientifically demonstrate that adult stem cells are the type of stem cell that is effective in helping reverse the effects of degenerative diesases...NOT embryonic stem cells. No cures have resulted from embryonic stem cell use. In fact, just the opposite, people get tumors.

But many cures are attributed to the use of adult stem cells!

So the benefits of stem cell research can and has been ethically applied to advance science!

This all makes the obsession with embryonic stem cell research all the more inisidious. It is almost like the scientists are setting aside demonstrable scientific proof simply to destroy unborn babies. It is abhorrent.

So, now, good Catholics, your taxpayer money now gets to go to this horrible and INEFFECTIVE branch of science while a perfectly good, licit and moral branch is even more effective and available in abundance.

What is so very interesting is that the President spoke carefully (presumably attempting to appeal to the more moderate crowd) talking about rigid restrictions set on this science.

What sense does that make? It's not a baby so you can kill it and harvest its cells for your ineffective experiments, but because of the "moral implications", you cannot create an embryo just to use its stem cells, and you can't clone, either.

If it's just a lifeless lump of cells, why does it matter what you do with it? If that embryo is not a separate person with its own unique dignity, why have any restrictions at all, or any more restrictions that you might have on say, a medical school cadaver. After all, it's not a life, right?

The very nuanced position bespeaks the truth that there is someONE to consider....the baby! And that this practice is gravely evil. Maybe the president hasn't come to the full realization of it yet, but perhaps this need to nuance will lead to a realization that the whole practice is immoral, inhuman, and a mass execution and experimentation on little humans who have no chance to live their life with freedom, life and happiness.

Our Loday, patron saint of the Americas, pray for our country.

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