Below you will find several posts evaluating the claims made by advocates of embryonic stem cell research (ESCR). I never cease to be amazed at the blatant misinformation being given to the public in this area. Unfortunately it can’t be blamed on ignorance, because many of those who are supplying it are medical professionals such as William Neaves. These posts will quote the individual, and then offer a biological and logical critique.

 


 

 

In the May 5, 2004 publication of the St. Louis Post Dispatch retired Senator Jack Danforth wrote:

 

The proposal to criminalize cell regeneration research calls for a choice between two understandings of human life. On one hand, we have the millions of people who suffer from ALS, Alzheimer’s, juvenile diabetes, Parkinson’s, spinal cord injuries and cancer – and the loved ones who care for them and suffer by their sides. On the other hand, we have tiny bundles of unfertilized cells existing in Petri dishes. Supporters of the legislation should explain to the afflicted and their loved ones why they care more about those cell bundles than they do about the people.

 

As with many in the pro-ESCR camp Danforth claims embryos have no value because they are “tiny.” What does their size have to do with it? Does the fact that we are large bundles of cells make us more valuable? Clearly not! Size is not morally relevant.

 

He is simply wrong to say we have “tiny bundles of unfertilized cells existing in Petri dishes.” They are embryos. Since at this point in time no one has been able to clone a human embryo, the only way embryonic stem cells can exist in a Petri dish is if they were extracted from a fertilized embryo. Even if these embryos were not produced by fertilization because they were cloned, the fact would remain that the product is the same: a human embryo. Either Danforth is biologically ignorant, or purposely deceptive. He is splitting hairs for political purposes. His statement makes as much sense as saying “If you were not delivered in a hospital you were not born.” In the same way that the location of your birth does not determine if you were born, the means by which you came into existence (fertilization, cloning) does not determine your status as a valuable human being.

 

Last but not least, Danforth committed the same error committed by William Neaves, Robert Bailey, and others, when he refers to embryos as a bundle of cells. They are no mere bundle of cells, but a whole human organism actively directing its own growth towards maturation according to its own kind.