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Redefining the terms alert

Just as the terms “pregnancy,” “embryo,” “cloning” and so many other terms have been the subject of repeated efforts to redefine and misdirect, watch out for a shift in the mainstream and scientific literature from “embryonic stem cells” to “early stem cells.”

Supposedly, there are disagreements as to what an embryo is, so the advocates for embryo destruction have begun writing about “early” stem cells. In appears that someone noticed that the public’s awareness that the embryo is the first stage of development of us all is obstructing such research, so it’s time for a new word. (See last week’s “Answer to Embryonic Stem Cell Proponents.” The talking points of The Alliance for Medical Research awkwardly introduce the term in each bullet.

Be alert to this term when searching the news, literature and speech. I’m reading and hearing it more often, since I noticed it being used at the Politics and Bioethics Conference in Albany last July.

Most likey the writer or speaker is giving you a clue that he or she doesn’t care whether the entity disassembled to yeild cell lines is a human individual or not. Just as we began to read “pre-embryo” a few years ago and “SCNT” became “NT” then “patient specific” stem cell lines. (Well, they didn’t. But it wasn’t for lack of trying or oocytes.)

In fact, the International Society of Stem Cell Researchers has published their draft guidelines, including a Glossary with a definition of embryo:

Definition and use of the term “Embryo”
Embryo: The term “embryo” has been defined and used differently in different biological contexts. Classical embryology has used the term embryo to connote different stages of post-implantation stages of development (e.g. the primitive streak and onwards to fetal stages). Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary (27th edition,1988 edition, W. B. Saunders Company) provides the definition: “in animals, those derivatives of the fertilized ovum that eventually become the offspring, during their period of most rapid development, i.e., after the long axis appears until all major structures are represented. In man, the developing organism is an embryo from about 2 weeks after fertilization to the end of seventh or eighth week.” An entry in Random House Webster’s College Dictionary reads: “in humans, the stage approximately from attachment of the fertilized egg to the uterine wall until about the eighth week of pregnancy.” However, the nomenclature has now been used generically by modern embryologists to also include the stage of first cleavage of the fertilized ovum onwards to nine weeks of gestation in the human and to term in the mouse. Two, four, and eight cell stages, the compacting morula, and the blastocyst are all more precise terms for pre-implantation embryos. Prior to implantation, the embryo represents a simple cellular structure with minimal cellular specialization, but soon after implantation a defined axis of development called the primitive streak begins to form. After this time twinning of the embryo can no longer occur as there is irreversible commitment to the development of more complex and specialized tissues and organs.(Emphasis is mine)

About bnuckols

Conservative Christian Family Doctor, promoting conservative news and views. (Hot Air under the right wing!)

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