Why can one not be simultaneously pro-life and pro-embryonic stem cell research?

I’m having some trouble understanding why a pro-life position automatically presupposes one (according to church teaching) to being against embryonic stem cell research (in of itself).

Is it equally wrong to harvest the organs of an organ donor who was murdered? Is utilizing such a victim’s organs in any way indicative of supporting the act that caused the demise in the first place?

Likewise, does making the best of a very evil situation (abortion) by at least utilizing what will be tossed away anyway mean one is condoning abortion?

In an ideal world there would be ZERO abortions. And if the law of the land coincided with the natural law, then obviously my entire question here would be completely moot (as then there would be no way of harvesting one more embryo without at the same time advocating one more abortion). But the tragic truth is currently the law allows for abortion and thousands upon thousands are being performed yearly in the US.

As an aside: What about harvesting embryos from barely pregnant women who die (for whatever reason)? In such a situation could a Christian morally do so (seeing as the means by which one would have acquired the embryo(s) would not have been via an abortion)?

The act of taking the stem cells is what kills the embryo, which is why it is wrong. It’s like saying “This man is homeless and not contributing to society, so let’s take his heart to give to someone else now, even though he’s just homeless and not actually sick.”

An embryo is just a homeless baby. Just because someone is going to throw the baby away, doesn’t give us the right to kill it before someone throws it away.

But if embryos could live without a surrogate, then this would make sense.

An aborted embryo is inevitably going to die (and if I might add, in vain). The homeless man isn’t going to inevitably die due to being homeless.

So if the homeless man was mentally retarded and unable to feed himself or keep warm in the winter it would be ok? What if he was in a coma?

Wouldn’t the better path be to find surrogates for those embryos?

Plus, it is much more likely to find cures from the research already being done with converting adult skin cells into embryonic like stem-cells. The DNA would be compatible with the patient. Focusing on embryonic stem cells takes away from the many positive cures that have already been found from adult stem cell research. It will slow the research process by years if not more to look at something that is not working instead of improving what is already working.

But the homeless person isn’t necessarily going to die DUE TO being homeless. The same cannot be said about embryos. An aborted embryo has only ONE possible fate.

Wouldn’t the better path be to find surrogates for those embryos?

Yes I agree it would be. I’m not qualified to speak about the ability to even perform such procedures, but if its physically possible, you might have just thought of a happy compromise to the whole abortion debate.

Mind you however, this thread isn’t about the morality of abortion nor is it about alternatives to abortion. This thread is about using a horrible situation to at least orchestrate some good.

Plus, it is much more likely to find cures from the research already being done with converting adult skin cells into embryonic like stem-cells. The DNA would be compatible with the patient. Focusing on embryonic stem cells takes away from the many positive cures that have already been found from adult stem cell research. It will slow the research process by years if not more to look at something that is not working instead of improving what is already working.

I agree the veracity with which so many molecular biologists have singled out embryonic stem cells has slowed the reception of great results concerning adult stem cells, however the converse would be just as inefficient. As so long as there are embryos being excised from their mother’s womb (legally), why not continue extracting their stem cells (especially since the plasticity of embryonic ones is much greater than that of adult ones)?

Two problems.
The first is not really a moral one.
In other countries, embryonic stem cell research is in fact happening. And the results have been, to say the least, unpleasant.
See, since an embryonic stem cell can turn into anything, and since we don’t exactly know how IT knows what to turn into, what they have found when they put these into patients is that the stem cell turns into, say, a liver, when it was supposed to turn into nerve cells.
Or, more often, it just turns into a cancerous mess.

Onto part of the moral issue -
If you use human embryos for science you have now created a market for them. Women currently PAY $300 or more to abort their babies. Do you think it’s so far off that, if embryonic stem cells were the panacea that people think they are, that women would start to GET PAID for their embryos? I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch.
Furthermore, organs are taken from the dead because he’s well, dead. There’s nothing more you can do for him here (except pray for his soul in purgatory I would suppose). This is not the case with the embryos. They are still very much alive. They were simply abandoned.
Instead of using the embryos, we should probably try to stop ‘extra’ embryos from being created in the first place.

I think you two are talking past each other. The OP seems to believe (correct me if I’m mistaken), that embryonic stem cells come from aborted embryos. That’s not true. They are either created specifically to be experimented upon (killed), either by cloning or IVF, or they are left over embryos from IVF procedures that the couple no longer want. Abortion destroys the embryo (or fetus, depending upon how far along is the pregnancy), you can’t use those stem stems. Other parts of the baby are used for research, in fact, some companies will pay top dollar for certain “parts”, which is equally disgusting, imo, but appears to be what you’re thinking of.

PeteVZ is talking about the former, which goes w/o saying that one cannot support and be prolife. One could argue that using the “leftovers” from IVF would be less morally problematic, in that they will die anyway, unless a surrogate adopts them, however, it’s still killing an innocent child. And in the case of creating the embryos simply to destroy them to retrieve the cells, that is totally reprehensible and can never be supported.

Hope that helped clear things up. Feel free to totally ignore me if I completely misunderstood your debate and am out of line :smiley: .

In Christ,

Ellen

You are confused about what stem cell research is and how the embryos are obtained.

Aborted embryos are **not **used in stem cell research. Any woman who went for an abortion would be much too far along gestationally in pregnancy for such a purpose. Any such embryo or fetus would be useless to a stem cell researcher. The stem cells are harvested after only 4-5 days of growth.

**Live **embryos are created and killed in stem cell research.

Life begins at conception. Embryonic stem cell research involves the killing of an embryo, and therefore the taking of life.
It is also unnecessary. Research with adult stem cells has already proven itself to be more reliable and is perfectly compatible with Catholic teaching.
The Catholic Church has a number of brochures that more fully answer the original question more fully than can be done within the forum. You may be able to find one of these flyers in the back of your church. I was looking for one that I might have, but it is possible that I tossed it when cleaning up. In any case, there is information available to more explicitly answer your question in ways beyond my ability.

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