This is a APB bulletin: My daughter wants to be a doctor and needs to make good grades in middle school science. Today she was assigned to do research and give a description of stem cells and their function and their use in medicine for healing, but (and I absolutely agree) that medical knowledge gained by research conducted on prisoners, the poor, the impaired, and the enslaved, should not be used to teach or use for other research. Was this knowledge gained from the murder of human embryos? If so what should she and I do? I think it is totally against church teachings am I right? Research done by Nazis on enslaved Jews in WW II has been considered taboo and most researchers refuse to use it to further current research. I need to know right away how this should be handled. All comments will be considered.
First, a very clear line must be made in your mind between “stem cell research” and “*embryonic *stem cell research.” The latter is, as you say, intrinsically evil and should not be used or considered for any means. Further, there is no known success in medicine for embryonic stem cell research, anyway, so it is an impractical exercise to try and find healing stories concerning it.
Normal stem cell research, also called “adult” stem cell research, however, is both morally acceptable and incredibly efficacious at healing! There is so much that adult stem cells can do to heal seemingly unhealable wounds or malfunctions in the human body that it is absolutely mind-blowing. Adult stem cells are taken from the bone marrow or other particular places on an adult, and the taking of them does no harm to the adult.
I think you definitely should encourage the research of adult stem cells to your daughter, so long as you explain to her in unmistakable terms what the difference is between them, and why one is evil and the other isn’t: in one, an unborn child is murdered to conduct research which has no known medical benefit, in the other, cells are derived from a healthy adult, with no harm done to the adult himself, and used for wondrous cures.
You should do research yourself; I daresay you will be fascinated.
There are two types of stem cells.
- Adult stem cells which can be used for healing now. And which the Church supports.
- Embryonic stem cells derived from killing living human embryos which, so far, have not cured any condition. Second, the embryonic cells will be looked at as foreign material by the body and will be rejected. Third, in all cases I’ve read about, these cells can cause tumors to develop. Yes, attempts are being made to get around this but the body will still recognize these cells as foreign and reject them, requiring anti-rejection drugs.
If the particular course materials refer to knowledge gained from human embryonic stem cells, I suggest contacting the National Catholic Bioethics Center for guidance: