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Stem Cell Research

         The Catholic Church – and many Christians- are perceived by some people, as being opposed to all stem cell research. Nothing could be further from the truth. The real truth is that the Church supports adult stem cell research, but opposes embryonic stem cell research. This is because embryonic stem cell research - as currently done – destroys (kills) the developing cells, which, if allowed to develop, could become a baby, a child, an adult. The concept of the sanctity of human life is the basis for this opposition. There can be no compromise about human life; it is either human life or it is not human life.  An embryonic stem cell – if allowed to develop – will eventually become a human body. Anything that stops this development – at any stage – would be the killing of a human life.

 

The Difference

                            Embryonic stem cells come from the union (fertilization) of an egg and a sperm cell … commonly called “the Moment of Conception.”   This fertilization starts the development of a new human life.  Embryonic stem cells exist only in the first 12 weeks of development. Currently, embryonic stem cells can only be harvested by destroying (killing) the developing cells (the fetus)..

 

         The function of an embryonic stem cell in nature is to reproduce and develop all organs and tissues in a precise sequence that is the same for every human being. Embryonic stem cells react to a precise internal control program.  Without direction of this internal program, these cells are similar to cancer cells, and would develop aimlessly like a tumor.  To date, there has been no successful use of embryonic stem cells to cure disease or repair injuries. In point of fact, according to the only published report, the one time they have been used, they caused a cancerous growth in the brain of the patient.

 

                             Adult stem cells are also formed during the early stage of human development in the fetus.  (Any stem cell that is not embryonic is an adult stem cell.)  In nature, the function of an adult stem cell is to repair any organ that has a problem or defect, starting with the fetus and extending throughout the entire adult life, thus they can be used for curing any part of the body. Adult stem cells can be harvested from a placenta, or from different parts of an adult human body. Harvesting them does not destroy (kill) any other life.  Adult stem cells have already been used to affect cures, clearly demonstrating that this is where the greater promise for research lies, without the need to kill any living cells.

 

The Politics of Stem Cell Research

                                                           Politicians who favor pro-choice (to kill) will be in favor of embryonic stem cell research, since this is consistent with their beliefs on abortion. On the other hand, pro-life politicians will oppose embryonic stem cell research, since they believe that life begins at conception (fertilization). It is therefore incumbent upon Catholics, to uphold their values and vote only for pro-life candidates for public office. As Catholics, we can make a difference; and we should use our vote to make that difference.

 

FOOTNOTE:

      In 2007,  scientists discovered they can us stem cells from amniotic fluid, that have many of the same traits as embryonic stem cells. But, they are still adult stem cells.

 

 

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