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Discovery could silence debate over stem cells
The Age ^ | April 25 2003 | Michael Bradley

Posted on 04/24/2003 8:59:56 AM PDT by RJCogburn

Scientists claim to have discovered a way of producing embryonic stem cells that could side-step the entire ethical debate surrounding such research.

Researchers from the US bio-tech company Stemron have produced embryos capable of providing stem cells, but which can never become human beings.

It is the first time scientists have used a technique called parthenogenesis on human cells.

Parthenogenesis is a form of reproduction in which the egg develops without fertilisation. The phenomenon occurs naturally in many insects, while artificial parthenogenesis has been achieved in almost all groups of animals, although it usually results in abnormal development.

No successful experiments with human parthenogenesis have previously been reported. But researchers from Stemron report in the journal Stem Cells that they have successfully used artificial parthenogenesis in humans and that the cells taken from one of the embryos survived for a number of days.

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Associate Professor Martin Pera, from the Monash Institute of Reproduction and Development, described the findings as an "interesting advancement" in the study of stem cells. But he said the advancement was not totally unexpected as parthenogenesis had already been used in non-human primates.

He said the most intriguing aspect of the work would be in determining whether the cells were "normal".


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: stemcells
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1 posted on 04/24/2003 8:59:56 AM PDT by RJCogburn
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To: RJCogburn
Interesting...
2 posted on 04/24/2003 9:41:40 AM PDT by Bigg Red (Beware the Fedayeen Rodham!)
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To: RJCogburn
Just use adult stem cells and avoid any moral questions.
3 posted on 04/24/2003 9:45:18 AM PDT by jimkress
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To: RJCogburn
"The phenomenon occurs naturally in many insects..."

Sure - a dog is a rat is a boy is an insect....
....and it all depends on what your definition of "is" is.....

4 posted on 04/24/2003 9:49:01 AM PDT by Psalm 73 ("Gentlemen, you can't fight in here - this is a war room".)
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To: RJCogburn
Be patient. Alan Keyes will be along momentarily to tell us why we're all going to Hell for this.
5 posted on 04/24/2003 9:49:50 AM PDT by Cyber Liberty (© 2003, Ravin' Lunatic since 4/98)
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To: jimkress
From what I understand the value of stem cells research is that they are using undifferentiated stem cells. Adults ones are pretty much useless.
6 posted on 04/24/2003 9:51:26 AM PDT by Dead Corpse (For an Evil Super Genius, you aren't too bright are you?)
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To: Dead Corpse
Adults ones are pretty much useless.

Absolutely not true.

Search FR and you'll find many articles concerning the highly effective application of adult stem cells in the cure of existing medical problems. Adult stems cells are current, effective medical technology.

You can also follw this link:

http://www.kressworks.com/Politics/issue_query.php?Issue=stem+cells&issues=Submit+Query

to get more info.

7 posted on 04/24/2003 9:55:42 AM PDT by jimkress
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To: jimkress
Just use adult stem cells and avoid any moral questions.

Seems to me that this also avoids moral questions by using unfertilized eggs to produce stem cells. If life begins at conception, then no conception = no life, right?

8 posted on 04/24/2003 10:03:50 AM PDT by general_re (You're just jealous because the voices are talking to me....)
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To: Britton J Wingfield
ping :)
9 posted on 04/24/2003 10:04:08 AM PDT by cateizgr8
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To: Coleus; Salvation
Hmmm ping.
10 posted on 04/24/2003 10:21:43 AM PDT by Black Agnes
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To: RJCogburn; 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember; afraidfortherepublic; Alas; al_c; american colleen; ...
There are plenty of stem cells in adults and umbilical cords which do fine.

http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a3b3fd0b84dba.htm

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/759469/posts
11 posted on 04/24/2003 10:32:41 AM PDT by Coleus (RU-486 Kills Babies)
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To: general_re
Except for the moral question of using women as farm animals, by hyperstimulating their ovaries to produce enough eggs. Which women are they more likely to get eggs from? Middle-class Americans or poverty-stricken third-worlders?
12 posted on 04/24/2003 10:49:09 AM PDT by nina0113
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To: general_re
If life begins at conception, then no conception = no life, right?

That statement contains a few loaded assumptions;

  1. Life began a few billion years ago (or a few thousand, if that works better for you) and living cells simply continue to generate more living cells. Life does not "begin" from inanimate matter.
  2. "Conception" does not mean "fertilization". It means "implantation" in current medical jargon. Fertilization is the often considered the starting point of a new individual.
  3. Where an individual starts is a less important question than whether an individual entity is an individual human being worthy of protection.

So the question is not whether these embryo have a conventional beginning (they clearly don't) or whether they are alive (they clearly are if they can grow -- dead cells don't divide and metabolize). The question is wether these embryos represent unique individuals worthy of protection. A key question there is, "If you were to implant one of these embryos into a woman, would it be possible to get a baby?" A related question is, "How similar are these embyos to a normal fertilized embryo?"

13 posted on 04/24/2003 10:49:12 AM PDT by Question_Assumptions (q)
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To: general_re
"Parthenogenesis is a form of reproduction in which the egg develops without fertilisation"

Once the artifically fertilized egg starts to divide, we DO have a conception - an embryo. The whole idea of Parthenogenesis is that development of the embryo (in this case a human embryo) begins without a sperm.

Contrary to popular myth, opposition to embryonic stem cells has never been about how the embryo came into being. It has always been about killing the embryo once it exists.

14 posted on 04/24/2003 10:49:18 AM PDT by Notwithstanding
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To: Cyber Liberty
ROFLMAO!
15 posted on 04/24/2003 10:49:58 AM PDT by Howlin
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To: Howlin
Well, it needed saying.
16 posted on 04/24/2003 10:50:58 AM PDT by Cyber Liberty (© 2003, Ravin' Lunatic since 4/98)
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To: Dead Corpse
Adults ones are pretty much useless.

I can't remember when I've seen such a silly statement on FR.

You are dead wrong.

17 posted on 04/24/2003 10:51:08 AM PDT by Howlin
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To: Howlin
Do you think slick-sick-lying-lawyer-senator and presidential aspirant Edwards can find a PI lawsuit anywhere in this? Are you still celebrating his campaign's donation troubles?
18 posted on 04/24/2003 10:58:44 AM PDT by onyx
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To: onyx
You bet I am.
19 posted on 04/24/2003 11:01:06 AM PDT by Howlin
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To: Howlin
I can't remember when I've seen such a silly statement on FR.
You are dead wrong.

Was that really necessary? Especially since you didn't bother to post anything other than your attack to back it up?

I don't have a dog in this hunt. Last word I heard is that undifferentiated stem cell lines were the center focus of this type of research as they more readily "become" other cells. Adult cells, while they have their uses, are not as readily workable, nor are the applications as broad.

If I am mistaken in my assumptions, then point me to some more research and let me go read up. Don't just wade in with the insults.

20 posted on 04/24/2003 11:08:35 AM PDT by Dead Corpse (For an Evil Super Genius, you aren't too bright are you?)
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To: Dead Corpse
Did you completely ignore Post # 7 to you?
21 posted on 04/24/2003 11:16:53 AM PDT by Howlin
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To: RJCogburn
If a parthenogenic "embryo" is left alone for nine months, what does it turn into?
22 posted on 04/24/2003 11:20:20 AM PDT by Redcloak (All work and no FReep makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no FReep make s Jack a dul boy. Allwork an)
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To: general_re
Seems to me that this also avoids moral questions by using unfertilized eggs to produce stem cells.

If life begins at conception, then no conception = no life

Bump
23 posted on 04/24/2003 11:22:49 AM PDT by george wythe
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To: Howlin
No. In fact I was in the middle of reading the UofM article when you decided that insults were a good idea to lead off a dicussion.
24 posted on 04/24/2003 11:35:37 AM PDT by Dead Corpse (For an Evil Super Genius, you aren't too bright are you?)
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To: Coleus
Thanks for the heads up!
25 posted on 04/24/2003 11:36:35 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Dead Corpse
middle of reading the UofM article

There are quite a few more that I've just been too lazy to integrate in the database on my web site. If you're interested I can spend some time and do that.

It's clear that once people started looking at adult and cord/ placental stem cells their capabilities are at least as good as fetal stem cells without the moral baggage.

26 posted on 04/24/2003 11:45:24 AM PDT by jimkress
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To: jimkress
Aren't the parthenogenic ones equally, if not better than, those though? The article alludes to a limited viability. Enough to harvest embryonic stems cells, which even the UofM article mentions have more applications than adult stem cells, at least.

This isn't a fertilized ovum. It would never grow into a human baby. From the sound of the above article, they aren't even sure these cells they got from the parthenogenisis are usable, normal, embryonic stem cells.

If this is just a tricky way of manipulating an ovum, then it isn't a human baby. What's the big deal?

27 posted on 04/24/2003 11:52:21 AM PDT by Dead Corpse (For an Evil Super Genius, you aren't too bright are you?)
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To: nina0113
Except for the moral question of using women as farm animals, by hyperstimulating their ovaries to produce enough eggs.

You don't have to "hyperstimulate" anyone's ovaries to produce more eggs - you were born with all the eggs you'll ever have, and you don't produce any more during your lifetime. Assuming you're a woman, that is, which seems a safe assumption from your handle ;)

All fertility drugs do is increase the rate at which they are released from the ovary. If you want an egg just to play with, you don't need to administer any drugs that I know of - all you have to do is go extract them directly from the ovary.

28 posted on 04/24/2003 12:06:19 PM PDT by general_re (You're just jealous because the voices are talking to me....)
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To: Question_Assumptions
A key question there is, "If you were to implant one of these embryos into a woman, would it be possible to get a baby?" A related question is, "How similar are these embyos to a normal fertilized embryo?"

Well, that's the $64,000 question, isn't it? Parthenogenesis doesn't occur naturally in humans, but among animals where it is known to occur, or can be induced to occur, it usually results in either outright failure to develop into an adult - either it's stillborn, or simply reabsorbed into the mother at a very early stage - or it "develops", and becomes "viable", but not in a normal manner, and winds up with a host of abnormal defects when compared to non-parthenogenetic animals. Very rarely, a parthenogenetic organism will appear to develop into a normal adult organism.

But the difference is, as I said, that fertilization + implantation is the normal mode of development, whereas parthenogenesis is 100% artificial, and does not occur in humans without human intervention. Add to that the fact that it is overwhelmingly likely that parthenogenetic embryos simply cannot develop into normal humans, and I think you're in the clear, morally speaking. So, in a less circuitous manner, the answer to your first question is "almost certainly not - you will not get a baby if you implant one of these embryos in a womb." As for the second, how similar they are to normally created embryos remains to be seen.

29 posted on 04/24/2003 12:20:24 PM PDT by general_re (You're just jealous because the voices are talking to me....)
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To: Notwithstanding
It has always been about killing the embryo once it exists.

Right, fine. But as I said in my previous post, we're also talking about embryos here where it's extremely likely that it cannot develop into a viable human baby. If you actually implanted one into a womb, the likelihood is that it would just spontaneously abort or be reabsorbed or be stillborn anyway. We're talking about embryos that really aren't long-term viable anyway, so where does that leave us?

30 posted on 04/24/2003 12:24:11 PM PDT by general_re (You're just jealous because the voices are talking to me....)
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To: Coleus
Thanks for the info Coleus.
31 posted on 04/24/2003 12:39:43 PM PDT by fatima (Go Troops our prayers are with you.)
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To: general_re
Eggs just sitting in ovaries aren't ready yet - the ovaries have to be stimulated with hormones to "ripen" the eggs so they can be retrieved, for IVF or any similar procedure.

I'm Catholic, so IVF isn't an option for me, but many of the other women on my infertility mailing lists have gone through the stimulation & retrieval process - they tell me it is painful & debilitating. They take hormones daily to "ripen" as many eggs as possible, then have repeated ultrasounds to determine if the follicles are large enough to use, then give themselves a shot to force ovulation.

It's not going to be Northern American college girls doing that to themselves to pay for Spring Break - it's going to be Central American women willing to do anything to keep their children from starving.
32 posted on 04/24/2003 12:53:05 PM PDT by nina0113
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To: general_re
It doesn't even sound like an "embryo" though either. Triggering a genetic legacy parthenogenisis for mitosys to the level of being able to harvest embyonic stem cells is a long way from the type of viability assumed under the label "embryo". "Tricked out undifferentiated cellular cluster" is more cumbersome, but closer in accuracy.
33 posted on 04/24/2003 12:54:14 PM PDT by Dead Corpse (For an Evil Super Genius, you aren't too bright are you?)
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To: Notwithstanding
opposition to embryonic stem cells has never been about how the embryo came into being.

Seems to be true. Sexual versus asexual reproduction has not been part of this developing story until now. It's a new factor. So we shall refine our definitions.

34 posted on 04/24/2003 12:57:37 PM PDT by RightWhale (Theorems link concepts; proofs establish links)
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To: nina0113
It's not going to be Northern American college girls doing that to themselves to pay for Spring Break - it's going to be Central American women willing to do anything to keep their children from starving.

Even if I accept that to be true, which I don't...so what? Do you object when people donate parts of themselves upon their death in order to further medical science? Do you obect when people donate organs in order to save the lives of others? Why should you object if they part with bits they neither need or want while they are still living? We're not talking about viable human embryos, so this is not like abortion where we should consider the interests of some other human being - and since that argument is now right out the window, what business is it of yours what someone else chooses to do with their own body?

35 posted on 04/24/2003 1:14:19 PM PDT by general_re (You're just jealous because the voices are talking to me....)
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To: Dead Corpse
"Tricked out undifferentiated cellular cluster" is more cumbersome, but closer in accuracy.

I think you're right on the money. If we define embryo as "actually or potentially able to develop into a viable adult", then I don't think this really fits that definition. But using the word "embryo" does seem to trigger a set of reflexive responses ;)

36 posted on 04/24/2003 1:16:33 PM PDT by general_re (You're just jealous because the voices are talking to me....)
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To: jimkress
Thanks, great site and I will forward it to some people who need to read it...What kind of problem did your friend have with the stearic acid?
37 posted on 04/24/2003 1:18:00 PM PDT by Coleus (RU-486 Kills Babies)
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To: general_re
Like we need an excuse to jerk knees around here? Difusing potnetial dust ups before they get started might actually allow a decent debate this one.
38 posted on 04/24/2003 1:23:30 PM PDT by Dead Corpse (For an Evil Super Genius, you aren't too bright are you?)
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To: Dead Corpse
Difusing potnetial dust ups before they get started might actually allow a decent debate this one.

I hope you're right. I think once people get past that word "embryo", then it will turn out to be a little cleaner of an issue, morally speaking, than using actual fetal stem cells. This "embryo" really is no such thing, since there's virtually no potential for an independent life to develop from it. Now, if that's the case, there's really nothing special about this particular bundle of cells, any more than any other bundle of cells, and so I don't see how they require special treatment, any more than a swab of cells from your cheek requires special treatment.

We'll see where folks come down on this, though - people can be stubborn sometimes ;)

39 posted on 04/24/2003 1:43:46 PM PDT by general_re (You're just jealous because the voices are talking to me....)
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To: general_re
As evidenced by the one poster referring to Third World women(what relevance is that? People sell themselves for food, shall we ban that?) I think a lot of people simply use the pro-life cause as a rubric to advance a religious or anti-technology viewpoint.

I'd have more respect for people who said they fear certain future developments, rather than try to convince me that a fertilized egg=baby=skywalk when discussing human rights and the value of life.
40 posted on 04/24/2003 7:34:34 PM PDT by Skywalk
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To: Dead Corpse
You are not doing enough research thus your conclusion is faulty.

Since when does creation mean destruction?

Where is George Orwell when you need him.
41 posted on 04/24/2003 8:39:02 PM PDT by victim soul
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To: Notwithstanding
FYI:

"The CLC [Catholic Leadership Conference] endorses the position of President George W. Bush which he stated in his first formal address to the American people: "I strongly oppose human cloning, as do most Americans. We recoil at the idea of growing human beings for spare body parts or creating life for our convenience .... Even the most noble ends do not justify any means.

This position conforms with what has been formally taught by the Catholic Church in the instruction issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1987 known as Donum Vitae. "[A]ttempts ... for obtaining a human being without any connection with sexuality through 'twin fission', cloning or parthenogenesis are to be considered contrary to the moral law, since they are in opposition to the dignity both of human procreation and of the conjugal union."



Statement of the Catholic Leadership Conference on Human Cloning

November 1, 2001

http://www.priestsforlife.org/articles/01-11-01humancloningclc.htm
42 posted on 04/24/2003 8:40:59 PM PDT by victim soul
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To: general_re; Dead Corpse; RightWhale; jimkress; Alamo-Girl
The article alludes to a limited viability. DeadCorpse Here's the deal with the rhetoric of the scientists trying this parthenogenesis. When they say the embryo will not develop into a human, they mean the embryo will not be implanted into a life supporting body for a finish to gestational development. They don't tell you that if they are successful in stimulating the diploid ovum into mitosis, it very well could develop into a female from the parent donor, and it could do just that. The 'limited viability' is due to the goal of the technicians in not implanting the embryo so conceived, rather than in some limiting factor of the embryo so conceived.

When the female sex cell begins its journey in preparation for being fertilized, it 'gives up' half of it's chromosome complement to become a diploid cell. With parthenogenesis, the ovum is stimulated with an electrical charge while it still has its full complement of 46 chromosomes, making it, in effect, an 'embryo in waiting.

43 posted on 04/24/2003 8:58:14 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
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To: Remedy; cpforlife.org; Mr. Silverback
ping ... to parthenogenesis thread
44 posted on 04/24/2003 8:59:56 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
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To: MHGinTN
Hmmm ... thanks for the information!
45 posted on 04/24/2003 9:06:50 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: MHGinTN
They don't tell you that if they are successful in stimulating the diploid ovum into mitosis, it very well could develop into a female from the parent donor, and it could do just that. The 'limited viability' is due to the goal of the technicians in not implanting the embryo so conceived, rather than in some limiting factor of the embryo so conceived.

Absolutely false. Parthenogenetic organisms almost invariably either develop abnormally when implanted, or fail to develop at all. The limiting factor is within the organism itself, not simply because they don't intend to implant it.

46 posted on 04/24/2003 9:31:10 PM PDT by general_re (You're just jealous because the voices are talking to me....)
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To: general_re
I should say that this is true for organisms that don't naturally engage in parthenogenesis, where it is artificially induced - some organisms naturally reproduce via parthenogenesis, and do it quite successfully. But humans, like most higher organisms, do not, and parthenogenetic organisms from higher orders are almost invariably a miserable failure when one attempts to grow them normally...
47 posted on 04/24/2003 9:41:05 PM PDT by general_re (You're just jealous because the voices are talking to me....)
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To: general_re
Have there ever been parthenogenically conceived mammalian organisms born?... Yes. I happen to have gone to the trouble of researching this line of assertion by these scientists. They do not intend to implant the parthenogenic conceived embryos (and that's what these will be, embryos), so they see no ,oral conflict in doing the science. Then they further add that too often anomalous organisms are born from such a methodology. Ask yourself, would they use these embryos for treating humans, if there were anomalies? Wouldn't they work to eliminate the anomalies and in so doing bring these embryos conceived via parthenogenesis to a gestatable state? You can count on it!... but they still vow to not allow these so conceived embryos to grow to birth age.
48 posted on 04/24/2003 9:42:50 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
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To: general_re
This "embryo" really is no such thing, since there's virtually no potential for an independent life to develop from it. "This embryo" is an embryo and that's why they remove embryonic stem cells from 'it' for experimentation. To make this individual life 'fair game' for harvesting body parts (stem cells are the body parts of the embryo) because it is a deformed individual is no better (morally, from the standpoint of society conveying protection for embryonic lives) than using predictably normal embryos.
49 posted on 04/24/2003 9:51:48 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
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To: MHGinTN; general_re; Coleus; Remedy; RLK; Canticle_of_Deborah; Mr. Silverback
"With parthenogenesis, the ovum is stimulated with an electrical charge while it still has its full complement of 46 chromosomes, making it, in effect, an 'embryo in waiting."

Isn't the resultant embryo in effect a clone? If so, aren't the scientists simply abusing yet another technological ability to clone humans using a different method, only to "cannibalize" these people for their parts?

I don’t trust these ghouls one bit. They are simply using semantic gymnastics to confuse the public’s perception of reality. Case in point: ”Researchers from the US bio-tech company Stemron have produced embryos capable of providing stem cells, but which can never become human beings.” If they are embryos and can “provide stem cells,” then they ARE HUMAN BEINGS ALREADY!!!

Just because they “develop abnormally when implanted, or fail to develop at all” does not make them less human. We have no right bringing these embryos into existence in the first place. It is utilitarianism at it’s most un-godly!

And with all the emerging alternatives that are not “cannibalistic” there is NO need. They seem permanently stuck in the “playing God” mode!

50 posted on 04/24/2003 9:52:50 PM PDT by cpforlife.org (“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6)
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