Thursday, February 17, 2005
The mythical stem cell dilemmas
It's all about false dilemmas, actually. There are two chief dilemmas that have been posited over the last few (two?) years: 1. Embryonic life in exchange for stem cell treatments to save lives: either we go full tilt on embryonic stem cell research or we say goodbye to the promise of cures to serious diseases like Parkinson's disease. 2. Science or ideology: either we scrap the ideologies, i.e., sanctity of human life, or we scrap the promise of those cures from stem cell research. These are both false dilemmas, explained very well by Peter J. Cataldo, director of research for the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, in his article, Myths of stem cell research require closer look at facts over at the Detroit Free Press (online). Regarding the first false dilemma, first of all, there are these things called ADULT stem cells that can also provide the stem cell lines for therapeutic research. Second, adult stem cells have been used (so far) in 56 treatments with good results. Third, embryonic stem cells have apparently not had any success in actual treatments. Fourth, harvesting embryonic stem cells require the destruction of embryos. Considering its zero success rate so far, what's the point? Regarding the second false dilemma, there is no blanket resistance to stem cell research, only to EMBRYONIC stem cell research. If the "ideologists" are so quick to condemn it, it is only logical, since it has a zero success rate so far while adult stem cells are available and have chalked up 56 successful treatments so far. Besides, the "scientists" who condemn the resistance to embryonic stem cell research are guilty of an ideology themselves: that the embryo has no value as a human being. Why don't they consult the science of embryology? Read this article . As Dr. Dianne N. Irving explains in that piece, embryology clearly tells us that human beings begin right there with an embryo. The egg and sperm cells have 23 chromosomes each. The result of fertilization has 46 chromosomes: the embryo. What animal on the planet is uniquely characterized by having 46 chromosomes? Human beings. This isn't ideology -- it's science, plain and simple. So why do some powerful folks keep rationalizing with false dilemmas? Simple: because they can't rationalize it in any other way. And why do they refuse to acknowledge the evidence concerning adult stem cells? I suspect that they need to win their case against the rights of the unborn to live. After all, if that debate is lost, then the abortion debate will also be lost (for the pro-aborts). Don't be surprised it if ties in with the euthanasia debate, too. Human life is precious. Proof: self-simulate the opposite..