Bioethics

Stem Cell Research

Astem cell is an unspecialized cell that, when it divides, can make another cell like itself or make any number of cells with more specialized functions. Embryonic stem cell research uses human embryos that are destroyed for medical experimentation, including somatic cell nuclear transfer or cloning. Adult stem cell research uses umbilical cord cells, placental-derived cells, and adult stem cells found in blood, bone marrow, and skin, obtained from a patient or family member donor.

Cloning

Cloning is a way of producing a genetic twin of an organism without sexual reproduction. Scientists created Dolly the Sheep in 1996, the first mammal cloned from an adult somatic cell. However, reproductive cloning, Where the created embryo is implanted into a human womb, is banned by many nations. More nations have legalized therapeutic cloning, which also creates human beings in embryo form through cloning, for the purpose of harvesting the embryonic stem cells for growing organs.

Egg Donors

In order to create embryos to clone & obtain embryonic stem cells, the research requires the procurement of ova, women’s eggs. The creation of one cloned embryo will require 50-100 human eggs, meaning that millions or billions of eggs could be needed. The increased need for eggs could lead to a heightened health risk for women taking the stimulation drugs to increase egg count and to the possible exploitation of women as their eggs become a commodity.

Learn about Bioethics

[simple_dropcaps]A[/simple_dropcaps] number of years ago the world was buzzing with the potential of using stem cells to cure everything from cancer to Alzheimer’s. But what are stem cells and why did they create such flurry of expectation? There are two types of stem cells:

Embryonic stem cells – taken from human embryos, by harvesting the stem cell. It requires the destruction of an embryo.

Adult stem cells – can be harvested from placentas, umbilical cord blood, bone marrow, body fat, and skin tissue.

Despite earlier hopes, embryonic stem cells have provided zero successful treatments. However, adult stem cells, which are ethically procured and do not require the destruction of life, have provided 65 successful treatments to date.

What Does the Church Have to Do with This?

Successful scientific experimentation does not remain in a laboratory. It will eventually find its way into hospitals, doctors’ offices, and the lives of people in the pews of the Church! Can you imagine a priest one day being asked to baptize a cloned baby? While the Church may not always be able to address every single new scientific breakthrough, the Church will be raising a new generation of doctors and scientists. It will be the generations in years to come that will be responsible for determining the ethics for scientific research—and whether or not the scientific community will chose to follow God’s way or man’s.


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