By Emily Zender -
Unless you are the self-proclaimed science nerd of your friend and family circle, most people don’t quite understand stem cell research and the ethical issues surrounding it.
If you try to learn more from Google, you will likely be bombarded by medical lingo until you feel immersed in a foreign language.
Have no fear, here’s the top 6 things you need to know about stem cell research to impress your science nerd friends.
1. What exactly is embryonic stem cell research?
Embryonic stem cell research usually begins when scientists manufacture conception within a lab. Once conception has been manufactured, the tiny human is allowed to grow for about 3-5 days. Then, the developing human is usually killed in order to harvest the stem cells for research.
2.Why is embryonic stem cell research unethical?
At conception this tiny human’s hair color, eye color, and sex have already been determined. The tiny human’s DNA is completely unique from the mother and father and will never again be repeated in the history of the human race. To conduct embryonic stem cell research, scientists usually stop that rapidly growing tiny human from developing – which otherwise left alone - would become a fully formed human being. Remember, you and I started out this small too!
3. Is embryonic stem cell research successful?
Not exactly. Not only is it very controversial, it has been found highly ineffective as well. Adult stem cell research has been found to be significantly more successful.
4. So Adult Stem Cell research is ethical, right?
Not so fast. Most of adult stem cell research is ethical and shows very encouraging results to cure neurological diseases. However the word “adult” in stem cell research is used to describe the age of the cell not the age of the person its is taken from. Therefore, adult stem cells can also be used to describe cells taken from an aborted child.
5. Why exactly does Illinois Right to Life discourage donating to the ALS Association?
The ALS Association admitted they are currently conducting a research project using embryonic stem cells. Also, the ALS Association gave approximately $500,000.00 to the research group NEALS, which conducted research using cells from an 8-week-old aborted child. At 8 weeks, an unborn child’s heart is beating about 100 times a minute and s/he is already dancing in the womb. While his or her fingers and toes are still a bit webbed, the eyelids are now almost fully covering his or her eyes.
Good alternatives are The John Paul II Medical Research Institute or Research Downs Syndrome (in an email to us, staff confirmed that grants issued by the organization specifically state “no embryonic stem cell research”).
6. Should I even participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?
YES! What, are you afraid of a little ice water? Participate, but in your video state that you love and respect all human life too much, so you are donating to an organization that supports research that benefits all human life – not research that destroys human life.
If science tells us that we need to destroy one human to cure another then they have failed us.
We can do better than that.
Let’s work towards creating a medical society that values every human equally regardless of size rather than a medical society that destroys one human in an attempt to save another.
Emily Zender is executive director of Illinois Right to Life