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embryo" does not refer to something distinct from a whole human being. Human embryo refers to a human being at a certain stage of development (in the way that terms like "infant," "adolescent," and "adult" refer to stages of development). Obviously, the complete human organism that is now you, was once an adolescent and before that an infant, before that a fetus and before that an embryo.
You began in the embryonic stage and developed by a gradual process of self-directed growth to the mature adult. By contrast, you were never a sperm cell or an ovum. The sperm cell and ovum whose union brought you into existence were genetically and functionally parts of other, larger organisms your parents. It is the science of embryology that tells us that human embryos are, namely, whole, living individuals of the species homo sapiens. As complete human organisms, and not mere parts of larger organisms, embryos are radically unlike human sex cells, somatic cells, organs, tissues, and the like. If provided with adequate nutrition and a suitable environment, and barring accident or disease, a human embryo will develop himself or herself from the embryonic into and through the fetal, infant, child, and adolescent stages, and into adulthood with his or her distinctness, unity, and identity fully intact. What happens in successful fertilization or cloning is the production of a new an distinct organism - a complete individual member of the human family.
Being genetically complete, they are already male or female, genetically disposed to be 6'5" tall or 5'1'' tall and have blond hair and blue eyes or black hair and brown eyes. This is the point at which a new human being has been formed and this is the point at which all of us began our individual life journey. We oppose embryonic stem cell research because embryos are human beings who are destroyed in order to harvest their embryonic stem cells. What is cloning? Cloning commonly refers to the process of taking a somatic (body) cell and fusing it with an egg that has had its nucleus removed. The resulting single-celled embryo has all of its nuclear DNA derived from the somatic cell. It is essentially the genetic twin of the donor of the somatic cell. Cloning is also called "somatic cell nuclear transfer" - this terminology is frequently used in legislation where people may not realize that it means cloning. Whether an embryo is formed by cloning or sexual reproduction, he or she is a distinct human being. There are two possible outcomes for a cloned embryo:1. So-called "reproductive" cloning placing the cloned embryo in a uterus with the purpose of a live birth2. So-called "therapeutic" cloning - meaning cloning for biomedical research The term "therapeutic" cloning is a misnomer. The process is certainly not therapeutic for the human being that is destroyed. From an embryological perspective, this is a false distinction between "therapeutic" and "reproductive" cloning. All
cloning is reproductive in the sense that it reproduces another human being, and destruction of embryonic human beings is never therapeutic. A more accurate term would be "cloning for biomedical research." The bottom line is that when an embryo is created, he or she is endowed with their complete genetic code. They possess their human nature and begin to direct their own development to adulthood. Developmental biology also recognizes that birth is simply a change of environment. If you are a human being at the end of the birth canal, obviously, you were a human being at the beginning of the birth canal. Those who use euphemisms and illogical contortions to avoid this truth choose to dispute the indisputable (it would be laughable if the consequences weren't so horrific). They do not have truth or science as their agenda but something else. Where do we stand in our pursuit of cures with embryonic vs. adult stem cells?HERE ARE THE FACTS: There are ZERO CURES from embryonic stem cells.There are over 70 therapies already available using adult stem cells.There are almost 1300 publicly available clinical trials using adult stem cells currently underway. There are none underway using embryonic stem cells.A number of adult stem cells appear to be pluripotent, including amniotic and placental stem cells. Which means they are a readily available, ethical source of stem cells for research, and have none of the
medical dangers of embryonic stem cells Federal funds have already supported over 130 million dollars of research using existing embryonic stem cell lines; and private institutions, much more. Billions of dollars will be put into this type of research with tax dollars from several states - including Washington State (SEE HERE)- over the next few years. Despite this, embryonic stem cell research is still in its infancy and has identified numerous problems using these cells:Embryonic stem cells are so powerful that they readily mutate, they tend to form tumors and are likely to require patient cloning to prevent immune system rejection. "Ethics" Committees. Lethal research is already being approved by university and government "ethics" committees that simply dress up their decisions in the language of ethics. Too often, ethics committees are simply a pretense. Their real purpose is to do an end-run around moral boundaries. They have contrived a dividing line between those persons whom they deem possess rights and moral protection, and those who don't. The consequence? If you are no longer viewed as a person possessing rights, you will be viewed as either a natural resource to be exploited, or a burden to be disposed of - and it is a moving target. Today we sacrifice the embryo, the unborn, the severely disabled, and the elderly. Whom will this slippery slope claim tomorrow?
History repeats itself. Within the history of the eugenics movement, this isn't the first time media, science, academia, and political leaders have been blinded by utopian dreams, and specially selected members of the human family have paid the price. Human Exceptionalism Historically, we have been able to battle back from these horrors and regain our sanity. If for no other reason than our common human experience reveals that being human, in and of itself, is sufficient to convey significant moral value. As the philosopher/theologian Fr. Bernard Lonegran observed: when animals run out of biological opportunities and dangers (food, shelter, reproduction, avoidance of pain and predators, and even affection) they fall asleep. When humans run out of biological opportunities and dangers, they ask questions, questions about their identity, their destiny, their ideals, about optimal love, unconditional truth, perfect social orders and even the infinite itself... this is what humans seem to uniquely do by comparison with the other members of the animal kingdom. C.S. Lewis captured the same observation when he wrote that people can look into the stars at night and, from this, feel diminished by our own infinite smallness. Animals simply see lights in the dark. When does a human being become a person?
There are those who admit embryos are human beings, but insist embryos are not yet persons, and consequently do not have the moral status of persons deserving of rights. One of the arguments against embryos being persons is that at conception and embryo is only a single-cell and no larger than the period at the end of this sentence. This kind of reasoning is just plain silly. Although both may be similar in size, given a safe environment and nutrition, an embryo will grow into an adult. The period just lays there. It won't even grow into a complete sentence. A period is a period - period. The argument from size commits a dangerous logical fallacy, and that is to base the argument simply on a description of the embryo's appearance. It is neither an explanation or definition of what this human being is. Aristotle 2400 years ago understood the principle that to obtain a true definition of something, you must discover what its powers are and what it is meant to be. Passing judgement based on appearance is not only irrational, but it has brought about the horrors of genocide, slavery, and ethnic cleansing. At conception we are self-possessed human persons. We possess our own future. It belongs to us uniquely and no one else. Despite our size, present within us at conception is the complete design of what we are meant to be and a selfdirecting power that brings that development
about. This power and the information necessary to direct it must be present at conception in order for development to occur. The genetics are irrefutable. Personhood does not depend on whether one is currently manifesting all one's powers or not. It is not a temporary state that comes and goes with our degree of functionality. I don't become a nonperson when I fall asleep or become unconscious. We are after all, human beings not human doings. Mere functionality does not reveal a living being. A machine could conceivably be designed to look like us, and mimic numerous human traits, but functional mimicry is not personhood. Indeed, there are already machines that actually function more efficiently than we do at specific tasks, but I seriously doubt your vacuum cleaner ever wonders about the fairness of it all. You, on the other hand, are intrinsically oriented toward that unique human characteristic, evident even in young children, to desire and reflect on transcendent realities like truth and justice. Parents are certainly aware of this characteristic, being the recipient of the oft heard remark "that's not fair!" Too often in the debate about embryonic stem cells, our moral status as persons is obscured by labels assigned to stages of development such as embryo or fetus, but an embryo is not less of a human being than an infant, anymore than a child is less of a human being before puberty than after. At every stage we are whole human beings.
Failing to distinguish between a label and reality is not a new problem. In fact, Abraham Lincoln used to illustrate it by humorously asking how many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? The answer is four, because it makes no difference if you call it a leg - it is still a tail. In the same way, how we label a stage of development doesn't change the fact that human beings are persons. Absurdly, some argue that if we can't "perceive" personhood in others with our senses, we cannot assume they are persons. But we are persons because of our human nature, not because of our size, or skin color, or abilities. I can't "see" freedom or justice either, that doesn't mean they don't exist. I can't see that part of the electromagnetic spectrum that allows us to have radios but not only does it exist, but it existed before radio was invented. The point is - our own limited perception does not alter objective reality. Those who would deny personhood under these circumstances fancy themselves more sophisticated than their historical counterparts who condoned atrocities based on appearance. Yet ironically, they display the same shallow mentality when it comes to contemporary debates. Once again, we witness ignorance and utilitarian motives corrupting what is both rationally and morally obvious - we can not earn for ourselves, or bestow on others what is already ours by nature. Whether conceived by sexual reproduction,
in vitro fertilization, or cloning, an embryo is not some thing but someone.
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