Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Part 1: Embryonic Stem Cell Research

The Senate voted today to approve funding for embryonic stem cell research. It passed 63 to 37, four votes shy of the two-third majority necessary to override a veto. President Bush is expected to veto it, as he said he would.

Do you believe that organ donation is right or wrong? In such cases, a person dies from some cause, and organs are taken from him or her, transplanted in other people in order to save their lives. The organs would go to waste if they weren't transplanted. The people are not killed for the purpose of providing organs. People are not raised for the purpose to have their organs harvested. That would be wrong.

How is stem cell research necessarily any different? To get the stem cells embryos have to die, but likewise for most organ transplants someone who is undeniably a living, human being has to die to get the organs. Just as it would be wrong to create people to harvest their organs, it would be wrong to create embyros to get stem cells. (It would also be wrong to get stem cells from abortions.) But, just like when a person dies incidentally, its okay to use their organs; it would be okay to use stem cells from embryos that are going to be destroyed anyways.

Where do these embryos come from that are going to be destroyed anyways. Well, they are left over from in vitro fertilization procedures which allow people who can't have children naturally to do so. So the real question you have to ask yourself is whether in vitro fertilization is morally acceptable. (Unless you believe organ donation is wrong, then you don't need to go further. But for everybody else...) I personally, don't have a problem with it, but I do question why to pay lots of money to create a child when you could just adopt. There are plenty of babies around the world, in the US and overseas, who are orphans and could use loving parents.

In in vitro fertilization more eggs are harvested than generally necessary because it is expensive to harvest them. Generally several embryos have to be implanted at a time with the hope that one will become a child, and this may have to be done many times until a child is born. Those embryos not used are frozen, and eventually destroyed. We certainly can't expect that the embryos are going to be kept frozen forever, for thousands upon thousands of years, so at some point they will die.

Another thing to consider is that the embryos from in vitro fertilization absolutely, 100% will never become babies or fetuses, etc., unless implanted. So, the destroying of the frozen embryos is different from abortion since abortion is the killing a fetus that would be born if not stopped. (These frozen embryos for stem cell research are blastocysts, of about 100 cells each.) We are not obligated to maximize the number of children born. Otherwise, every person when they become child bearing age would have to start trying to have children. Just because a woman has an egg in the right state to be fertilized doesn't mean she has to try to get it fertilized. Likewise, just because these embryos have been created with the purpose to become children doesn't mean they all have to be used.

Look for the next part on this controversial topic. In the mean time, consider if you think in vitro fertilization is right or wrong, and for that matter if organ donation is right or wrong. If you believe they're right, logically you would have to support embryonic stem cell research.

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