Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Where the Pope and the Southern Baptist Convention see eye to eye...

No, I'm not talking about Christ dying for our sins. That should be a given. I'm talking about the ludicrous nonsense of denouncing embryonic stem cell research in the name of "protecting life". This is asinine beyond belief. Seriously. To use my cousin Travis' favorite phrase, such an opinion is "Full-on Retard" in my not-so-humble opinion.

I read an article about the first treatment in a human using embryonic stem cells, which were injected into the spinal cord of an injured patient yesterday...a treatment that is called a destruction of "defenseless human life" by the Catholic church and "the most vulnerable members of the human community" by the Southern Baptist Convention.

Why is this point of view so Full-on Retard? Because it simply isn't based in any sense of reality whatsoever. Okay, it's obvious that I'm not anti-abortion like many Christians are, simply because I have a different view on what a human "person" is. That notwithstanding, let's examine the two situations here.

An abortion, in the typical sense of the word, is a terminated pregnancy that typically happens when the fetus is younger than three months' gestation. An embryonic stem cell, on the other hand, is harvested from an embryo...not a fetus.

An abortion is performed while the fetus is in the mother's womb, to terminate a pregnancy. An embryo used for research is extracted from a test tube, typically the left-overs from a fertility clinic.

An abortion kills a fetus that has potential to become a living person. Using an embryo for research will kill an embryo that has potential to either help save a human life, or wind up in a dumpster.

So far, we've discovered that in doing research on human embryos, we aren't destroying anything that wouldn't be destroyed anyway. Fertility clinics create multiple lab-produced embryos for couples that can't have children without the help of modern technology, and there are often many left-overs. Believe it or not, but not every mother-to-be visiting a fertility clinic wants to be "OctoMom"!

Now, let's move on to the next point of contention. Many overly-religious types seem to think that because stem cells are present throughout the entire life-span of a human body, that it isn't necessary to harvest them from embryos. Well, that might be true, if it weren't for one simple little fact. As the human body gets older (from the point of conception onward), stem cells become less and less able to differentiate. A "stem cell" is called such, because it has the ability to differentiate (or become another) type of cell. An embryonic stem cell is able to become any other type of cell found within the human body, for obvious reasons. It's an embryo, duh! As the body becomes older, stem cells become more specialized...and therefore, less likely to differentiate to other types of cells. This is even true with cord blood from a newborn baby.

Since the beginning of stem cell research, there have been several scientific developments involving stem cells other than the embryonic variety, as well as the "induced pluripotent stem cell" created by altering adult stem cells. One researcher has even found a way to extract amniotic fluid containing stem cells he says can be made to differentiate into various types of cells.

However, here's the deal:

There are almost half a million frozen embryos in the United States alone, and the vast majority of them have "expired"...meaning they can't be thawed out to produce a living person. They are bound for the dumpster, regardless of whether mankind finds a way to use them to cure a disease. Nervous system cells are much more difficult to produce using any method EXCEPT an embryonic stem cell. The greatest foci of stem cell research are neurological disorders and spinal cord injuries, and have been since its inception.

So, while the Southern Baptist Convention and the Vatican are "saving the babies" that will eventually be treated as medical waste and incinerated as such, many people are dealing with debilitating, crippling, and often life-threatening injuries and illnesses.

Marty McFly had to quit his job as a working actor, because his Parkinson's got so bad that he was unable to work in front of a camera. Superman died in a wheelchair at the age of 52, due to complications from a broken neck that occurred after falling off a horse. Meanwhile, several people very near and dear to me are suffering through a lifetime of MS...including a friend of mine from college, and my own aunt. Embryonic stem cell research offers what is currently the best hope to cure those suffering from such injuries and illnesses.

God gave us the gift of life...and He also gave us the mind necessary to perform the healing art known as modern medicine, in all its myriad forms. So if you're one of those people who think it's okay for my loved ones to suffer through a disease that threatens to snuff out their lives at a young age while putting them through untold agony while they still live, in order to "preserve the sanctity of life" in an embryo that will be thrown away like yesterday's newspaper because it will not and cannot be used for its originally-intended purpose, I really don't have the words to express what I think of you...

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