Ever since the great embryonic stem cell debate commenced at the end of the Clintion years, I have witnesses so many “scientists” and media cheer leaders claim that an early embryo is no different than the cells that are destroyed when you brush your teeth, e.g., just a cell, not a human organism at all.
What a hoot! And my side of this debate is supposedly “anti-science.”
Biologist Maureen Condic has published a very helpful article that discusses whether the new “acid bath” pluripotent stem cells (STAP) might actually be “totipotent,” e.g., developing as a new organism. (She thinks not.)
I don’t want to get too deep into those weeds on a blog for the general public. But she presents a very good definition of an embryo that I think should help overcome the corruption of science by the stem cell sophists.
Unlike mere cells or tumors, an embryo is an organism. From the peer reviewed, “Totipotency: What It is and What It Isn’t,” in Stem Cells and Development:
Embryos develop in a predictable manner toward a species-specific adult form (human embryos do not mature into mice…) Embryos repair injury. They adapt to changing environmental conditions. Most importantly, they show coordinated interactions between parts (molecules, cells, tissues, structures, and organs) that promote the survival, health, and continued development of the organism as a whole…
The embryonic stem cell debate is about ethics, not science–except that so many promoters of ESCR continually misstate the scientific facts precisely to prevent us from having a rational discussion about ethics. As Condic notes:
Regardless how individuals or societies ultimately weigh the value of of the embryo relative to the value of scientific research, it is important to appreciate that in all cases, the ethical consideration given to human embryos does not reflect the status they will achieve at some point in the future…
Rather, ethical consideration is given to human embryos based on the status they already possess; that is, their unique and fully operative ability to function as a human organism.
If we can use embryos as if they were a corn crop, what other humans can we similarly use?
Fetuses? So some tell us.
People diagnosed as unconscious. So some tell us.
People who want to be euthanized? Their organs are already harvested in Belgium.
The ethical issue could not be more important. But the stem cell sophists work overtime to prevent a true ethical deliberation by pretending that the nascent human beings they want to destory–and perhaps, manufacture–aren’t really human beings, that is, living organism of the species Homo sapiens. And that is just plain false.