“. . . there is no compelling scientific argument for the public support of research on human embryos.”
Memorize this sentence before you call your Congressman and Senators about next week’s vote on the DeGette-Castle Bill (they’re also calling it the “Stem Cell Research Enhancement Bill,”). You can tell them that your source is this month’s First Things article, by Professor Maureen Condic. Please do go read it – it has no flaws that I could find. (and I argue with everyone)
Maureen Condic, Ph.D., is a professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy, an expert in the outgrowth of neurites and guidance of axons of embryonic neurons as well as a critic of destructive human embryonic stem cell research. Her scientific reports are published in prominant peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Neuroscience and cited by numerous other scholars.
Back in 2003, she commented on the dismissal of the human embryo as “not a human,”
Embryos are genetically unique human organisms, fully possessing the integrated biologic function that defines human life at all stages of development, continuing throughout adulthood until death. The ability to act as an integrated whole is the only function that departs from our bodies in the moment of death, and is therefore the defining characteristic of “human life.”
This month, Dr. Condic notes that embryonic stem cells most often simply die when implanted in post-natal animal models. If they don’t die, they do not yield any therapeutic benefit. Instead, they cause benign and embryonal tumors, there’s no evidence that this concern will be resolved in the near future and there really is no way to determine whether any stem cell line is harmless or useful or non-tumerigenic until it’s implanted.
The failure of embryonic stem cell–derived tissues to survive when transplanted to adult tissues strongly suggests that science has not yet determined how to generate normal adult tissue from embryonic stem cells.
“. . . there is no compelling scientific argument for the public support of research on human embryos.” Serious scientific challenges are, by definition, problems that have stubbornly resisted the best attempts of science to resolve them. Over the past thirty years, hundreds of billions of dollars and countless hours of research by dedicated professionals worldwide have been devoted to solving the problems of immune rejection and tumor formation, yet these issues remain serious scientific and medical challenges. The mysteries of embryonic development have been plumbed for more than a hundred years by some of the most brilliant biologists of history, and yet, despite the clear progress we have made, we are nowhere near the point of having a “recipe book” for cooking up cellular repair kits to treat human disease and injury. Immune rejection, tumor formation, and embryonic development have proved themselves to be profoundly serious scientific challenges, and they are likely to remain so for decades into the future.
The hubris of scientists in the field of embryonic stem cell research who confidently asserted “Give us a few years of unrestricted funding and we will solve these serious scientific problems and deliver miraculous stem cell cures” was evident in 2002, and it is even more evident today. For the past five years, researchers have had completely unrestricted funding to conduct research on animal embryonic stem cells, and yet the serious scientific problems remain. They have had every conceivable tool of modern molecular research available to them for use in animal models, and yet the serious scientific problems remain. Millions of dollars have been consumed, and hundreds of scientific papers published, and yet the problems still remain. The promised miraculous cures have not materialized even for mice, much less for men.