Wesley J. Smith deconstructs Ron Reagan’s deliberately misleading speech at the Democratic convention last night:
For weeks we have been told that Reagan would urge President Bush to increase spending for embryonic-stem-cell (ESCR) research using leftover (IVF) embryos and to expand the parameters of eligibility for federally funded research. But that is not what he did. Rather, under the guise of promoting ESCR, Reagan actually pushed for the explicit legalization of human cloning.
There is a big difference, as Smith points out. His comments are in italics:
Now, imagine going to a doctor who instead of prescribing drugs, takes a few skin cells from your arm. The nucleus of one of your cells is placed into a donor egg whose own nucleus has been removed. A bit of chemical or electrical stimulation will encourage your cell’s nucleus to begin dividing [actually, create a new cloned human embryo], creating new cells [embryonic development] which will then be [destroyed and their cells] placed into a tissue culture. Those cells will generate embryonic stem cells containing only your DNA [and mitochondrial DNA from the egg], thereby [theoretically] eliminating the risk of tissue rejection.
The other issue Reagan avoided is that adult stem cells actually hold more promise for curing disease than embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells tend to grow tumors when they’re implanted into bodies because the telomerase is still active, which seems to grant cells virtual immortality by preventing the cell from receiving the signal to stop dividing. This problem is so severe that human tests haven’t been possible yet with embryonic stem cells.
Meanwhile, dozens of effective treatments are now being developed with adult stem cells, which do not require the destruction of growing human embryos.
Another issue: If the obstacles to the use of embryonic stem cells can somehow be overcome, for medical use of embryonic stem cells to become widespread, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of human eggs will be needed to grow these designer stem cells.
Where will they come from? Volunteers?
Or will we see the development of a new industry as hundreds of thousands of women agree to allow their eggs to be harvested and destroyed for these treatments? Is this a career you want for your daughter?
Creepy, isn’t it? What will probably happen, if this is ever allowed under law, is that the eggs will come from women in impoverished Third World countries who are paid a pittance and given drugs to hyperovulate.
My wife, the molecular biologist, pointed out that experiments have already yielded blastocysts–developing embryos–by cloning human DNA in the eggs of cows and pigs. We don’t know yet what mixing the mitochondrial DNA of animals with human DNA will ultimately yield, but hey–at least you don’t have to pay the animals for their eggs. (PETA might object, but better PETA than NOW, I guess.)
The question that the media needs to ask is this: Since adult stem cells are more readily available, pose no risk of rejection (since they can be harvested from the patient), and can be obtained more cheaply, and without harvesting eggs and destroying embryos, why is there such a desperate push to legalize and fund “therapeutic” human cloning for embryonic stem cell research?
Is it the potential profit? Or is there a darker purpose?