Skip to comments.The ‘Therapeutic Cloning’ of Human Embryos
Posted on 05/17/2013 3:22:17 PM PDT by neverdem
The embryos killed are the first class of victims; the second class of victims will be the rest of us.
Oscar Wildes The Picture of Dorian Gray is the sort of timeless morality tale students read as an antidote, or at least an objection, to the hedonism that seems to follow naturally from youthful ideas about immortality.
The story is familiar to many: Dorian Gray is a narcissist who wishes that a portrait of him his copy in paint would age in his place. His wish comes true, and though his life is corrupted by a pursuit of pleasure, only his painted visage bears the effects. Dorian himself is visibly unscathed, though the novels fatal climax exposes a soul rendered ugly by a life of egoistic debauchery.
The Picture of Dorian Gray took on a particular prescience yesterday. Scientists at Oregon Health and Science University reported a successful incidence of cloning, one that relied on the same method that researchers used 17 years ago to clone Dolly the sheep. This week, the cloned embryos were not sheep; they were human beings. The work is heralded as the success of therapeutic cloning.
We will hear a lot about therapeutic cloning in the news this week. Researchers distinguish between therapeutic cloning, which creates embryos in order to harvest their stem cells, and reproductive cloning, which has the intention of a live birth. The Oregon researchers insist that theirs was not an act of reproductive cloning.
But the distinction is spurious. Both types of cloning are reproductive. Both bring a new human being into existence. In fact, so-called therapeutic cloning is the more heinous because the process is intended to create life, exploit it, and then destroy it.
Consider what the cloning breakthrough means. Scientists have discovered how to create perfect human copies, to be used for the sole purpose of growing tissue in the effort to combat disease, and then these copies will be destroyed. From a scientific perspective, this breakthrough could solve, among other problems, that of tissue rejection or a delay that renders organ transplant unfeasible. From the standpoint of materialism, there has been no greater advance in regenerative medicine. Through therapeutic cloning, a persons health can be enhanced immeasurably and only the copy, the embryo, will suffer the effects.
The problem is that the embryo is not merely a copy. The embryo is not an extension of the patient who donated the DNA, a cell bank to be utilized without consequence. The embryo, though genetically identical, is a new manifestation of human life, endowed by its very being with dignity. The embryo is a human being.
The humanity of the cloned embryo will be aggressively denied in the weeks to come. Though human life demonstrably begins at the embryonic stage of development, the created embryo will be presented as a collection of tissue, a biological tabula rasa from which organs can be grown. Scientists will seek more funding, and the Dickey Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for the creation of cloned embryos, will be attacked.
In 1968, Pope Paul VI warned in Humanae Vitae that the sexual revolution, beginning with a cultural acceptance of the contraceptive mentality, would lead to a wholesale denial of human dignity and the family. Now we are cloning embryos to destroy them. It will be only a matter of time before therapeutic cloning will cede to reproductive cloning. If we dont seriously contemplate the ethical consequences of therapeutic cloning now, eventually cloned human beings will be born in America.
The progress of therapeutic cloning will not be victimless. But the victims will be hidden from sight, tucked away in the dark like Dorians decaying portrait.
The first class of victims, and the ones most pressing on our consciences, will be the embryos: brought into existence to be used, and then killed. If nurtured, as in a womb, these embryos would grow into fetuses, and then infants, and then children. They are, no matter their size, human beings. But because they are small and have no voice and offer such tremendous possibility, they will be ignored.
The embryos will be a class of human beings created only to be exploited and discarded.
The second class of victims will be the rest of us. We will be the ones remaining healthy and making progress and defeating disease all by means of killing. We will be the ones who appear beautiful, while our souls embrace the most harrowing kind of social utilitarianism and darkness. If we ignore the problem, as we have done with contraception and abortion, we will only sink into a more violent depravity, like the one that befell vain Dorian Gray. We will be the ones whose portrait grows ever uglier, and who grow ever closer to madness.
Samuel Aquila is archbishop of the Archdiocese of Denver, Colo.
I don’t approve of cloning whole humans. What I do approve of is gene manipulation so that we can grow the specific body part we need.
They can already grow an ear. If they can do that, what’s to stop them from growing organs eventually.
The promise of that is real, and would be amazingly beneficial.
Growing a being for use as a factory of sorts, no.
Humanae Vitae was way ahead of its time, propephetic & the Holy Spirit warning us.
What’s happening now with cloning & destruction of embryos is an abomination that will not go unpunished by God. We must reject this evil.
What are you growing these organs from? Stem cells? From where? Embryos? If so, it’s the same damn thing.
They didn't grow a body and discard the rest just because the needed an ear. They grew an ear.
Let's say you were in an accident and your ear was lost. With the right gene therapy, they could start an ear on your arm, and in a few months or however long it took, relocate it to where your ear should be. No harm, no fowl.
Parts are parts...
If you’re advocating the use of adult stem cells for such things, fine. But if I lost my ear & an embryo ad to die in order to grow me a new one, no thanks.
I suggest you inform yourself of the difference in stem cells.
Do you see a problem with using adult manipulated cells to do this? I don’t. I’m not advocating the use of embryonic stem cells.
Our bodies create and lose cells every day. If a cell is taken and used to help a person in need, I have no problem with it whatsoever.
You really need to calm down and quit looking for a dust up.
Where did I advocate for using embryonic stem cells? Oh that right, I didn’t.
You read my response, grew some big scandal in your head, and ran with it.
Has anyone seen the movie, “The Island” (which is a remake of the 1970’s sci-fi horror movie “The Clonus Horror”)?
Because that’s where this kind of thing will go. Cloning people in order to use the clones as a handy source of spare parts.
Um, no. Your post was not specific. I simply asked a question & in your response, you did not address what I asked. Instead you were vague, giving the reader the impression that you weren’t aware of the difference.
I see by your above post you are not embracing embryonic stem cell research. Very well, then. I agree.
You are an ass. You made assumptions that were untrue, attempted to besmirch my character based on them, and then passed them off as reasoned when called on it.
You owe me an apology. I don’t expect to get it. You’ve already taken a pass on it at least once.
I asked you a pointed question: are you supporting the use of embryos to grow parts. It took you several posts to make yourself clear. And I think you owe me an apology for calling me an ass. Sheesh
Humanae Vitae ping! You’ll enjoy this article!
You didn't need to ask me any questions. If you were as smart and uber-intelligent as you thought you were, you would already have known that these types of things can be done without using embryonic stem cells.
I don't need to explain it to you bright path. You jumped to the wrong conclusion. You got called on it.
Now deal with it.
What are you growing these organs from? Stem cells? From where? Embryos? If so, its the same damn thing.
It addressed more than the stem cell source didn't it. It address the premise that growing anything using stem cells was the same thing as growing a whole body.
Well no it isn't. And that's the significant part of that comment of yours, and that's what I addressed.
Hell, you can't even recognize your emphasis in your own comments.
We don't even need to manipulate genes for that. We need a better understanding of how growth factors and hormones interact to cause the correct genes to turn on and off in the correct sequence to cause the desired body part to grow. Once we have that understanding (and we're getting there, slowly), then we will be able to harvest a patient's own stem cells to grow those replacement parts.
Right now, in labs, researchers are using various methods to grow functional replacement organs. A kidney that produces urine has been grown using stem cells. These techniques aren't usable for human medicine yet, but it's coming.
Moral issues aside, the idea of using an embryo as a source of stem cells has never made much sense to me. Cells of the early embryo are omnipotent--they can grow into any cell type or tissue. But adult stem cells are merely multipotent. Being more differentiated, they have a limited number of cell types or tissues they can become. If you want to clone a replacement organ, it makes more sense to use cells that only need a little tweaking to become what you want them to be, rather than cells that need major programming to do what you want.
As you try to be so clever, use a dictionary. The expression is “No harm, no foul.” Not fowl. Fowl is what you eat for dinner.