The US Government and Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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Creationists are frequently accused of ignoring “real science” in favor of their own agendas. Well, when it comes to embryonic stem cell research, the U.S. government, at least the present administration, is guilty of ignoring “real science” in favor of its political agendas.

So says Mike Bowman, legal counsel with Alliance Defense Fund, in an opinion piece just published by CNN.com. A federal court recently issued an injunction against the Obama administration’s guidelines favoring embryonic stem cell research on the grounds that those guidelines violate a 1995 law directing that taxpayers’ money be directed toward research that “produces treatments instead of destroyed embryos.” Indeed, there are two key issues in view here, neither in favor of embryonic stem cell research.

These cells are used to replace damaged or diseased cells in human beings.

Stem cell research involves the use of human cells that have the potential to reproduce and transform into a variety of cell types. These cells are used to replace damaged or diseased cells in human beings. There are two main sources of stem cells: live human embryos—each essentially a test-tube baby that never made it to a womb—and adult stem cells—used to make induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

The foremost moral and ethical issue arises from the fact that embryonic stem cells come from human embryos, each a “genetically distinct human being from the moment of conception.” These tiny beings are conceived in the laboratory, but then destroyed as their cells are harvested.

While research using adult stem cells (iPSCs) has produced a number of remarkable medical treatments for a variety of dreadful diseases and done so with minimal side effects, embryonic stem cell research cannot yet claim a single successful medical treatment. Despite administration claims that many people will suffer if money isn’t appropriated to embryonic stem cell research, as Bowman states, “embryonic stem cell researchers have produced no treatments at all.” Despite claims by many in the government, the media, and Hollywood, now “only 33% of U.S. voters believe that taxpayer money should be spent on embryonic stem cell research,” the majority of people are now beginning to realize that directing money to research which destroys embryos and produces no useful results at all is not only the height of poor stewardship, but also robs fruitful iPSC research of those funds.

Numerous secular scientists, pioneers in stem cell research, are ready to relegate embryonic stem cell research to the trash heap of disappointing dreams. The “father of human embryonic stem cells” research, James Thomson, predicted back in 2007 that embryonic stem cell research would be abandoned in favor of the iPSCs which “do all the things embryonic stem cells do.” Former NIH director Bernadine Healy has termed the embryonic stem cell research “obsolete.”

The desire to protect human life, created in the image of God, is what primarily governs our position against human embryonic stem cell research—no matter who is funding it—but also the need to practice financial good sense. It causes us to applaud the increasing number of research scientists willing to take a stand and abandon human embryonic stem cell research in favor of iPSCs.

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