Human-Cow Embryos for Stem Cell Research

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The headline tells it like it is: scientists in the UK have requested permission to create embryos out of human DNA and cow eggs. The human/cow embryos would “be used for stem cell research and would not be allowed to develop for more than a few days”-according to current plans, anyway. However, the resulting embryo would be “99.9% human”-a somewhat troubling notion-because the cow genetic material has been removed.

Some point out that this sort of stem cell research may lead to cures for human disease (despite the fact that there are other alternatives). However, when society begins to deprecate the value of young human lives, a “domino effect” of decreasing respect for life may result, as is seen in another news item this week: Euthanase disabled babies, say doctors. Britain's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology is promoting the idea of “active euthanasia”-that is, killing disabled newborns “for the overall good of families, and to to spare parents the emotional burden and financial hardship of bringing up the hardest-hit babies.”

When society begins to deprecate the value of young human lives, a “domino effect” of decreasing respect for life may result.

Nick Triggle, BBC health report, examines the issue as well, but his report includes photographs of young Heather Pope-an example of the type of young life doctors may one day terminate if current attitudes toward human life continue.

And, in related news, scientists reported this week on a “finding [that] challenges conventional biological thinking, because it shows that cells that have stopped dividing are better for transplantation than the stem cells that normally make new cells.” Perhaps discoveries such as this will reduce the din of voices pushing for increasing stem cell “production.”

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