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Stem Cell Debate April 30, 2009

Posted by earthking in Uncategorized.

For the last two weeks I have been researching the stem cell debate via various sources.  Fortunately, back in 2002 I had a class on the moral status of the human embryo, which was an elective I took while studying philosophy in a Catholic seminary.  So, the more recent research was a brush up to get ready for a debate on this topic in a class I am now taking.  The verbal debate in class was to help both sides prepare their argumentative papers.  It took place two nights ago, and we ended up tying.  The tie was not a disappointment, as the other side, which was pro-embryonic stem cell research, was very prepared.  I try to give credit where it is due.  Overall, I had a lot of fun debating this topic and learned quite a bit in the process.

However, yesterday I was listening to a liberal talk show host who sounded quite intelligent.  I can’t remember her name, but it sounded as if she knew her stuff about politics and was very passionate, too.  As she was rambling on and on about how different ethical issues get in the way of getting things done, she quite casually mentioned how conservatives are against stem cell research.  I almost called her up to yell at her, because that is not the case. 

I hear this over and over again that conservatives and the religious right are against stem cell research.  This is the worst misrepresentation I have ever seen in recent memory.  I don’t care what you believe about stem cell research, to misrepresent an opposing view is wrong.  So, I am going to clarify briefly what the conservative position is on this issue.

Conservative DO NOT oppose stem cell research.  However, they do oppose HUMAN EMBRYONIC stem cell research.  It is a huge difference.  Stem cells can come from two sources- adult cells, like from a person’s bone marrow or an umbilical cord; or from embryos.  However, when taking stem cells from an embryo, the embryo dies in the process.  The killing of the embryo is why conservatives oppose this type of research.  It is also why many scientists are extremely relieved to find adult stem cells that may be as flexible as embryonic stem cells.  After all, it may provide a way to avoid this touchy moral debate. 

Once again, I am not writing this to try to convince you of one side or the other.  The point is to clarify- conservatives are NOT against stem cell research in general.  They are supportive of all types of research that helps cure diseases, including stem cell research.  But, they will not endorse the killing of human embryos to further any kind of medical research because it kills the human embryo. 

If I get enough reads from this post, then I will write on why the conservatives view the human embryo as a human being endowed with rights just like every other human person that we interact with on a daily basis.



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