Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Virgin Eggs Over Easy, Hold The Sperm

Scientists say they have created embryonic stem cells by stimulating unfertilized ova. This could be the first step toward producing transplant tissue that’s genetically matched to the women who donated the eggs. The current debate around the use of stem cells from viable embryo has become legally, ethically and politically contentious.

Stem cell research could spare the lives of people suffering from ghastly degenerative and progressive diseases. Experiments would be conducted on human ova cells that have been started on their replication process, although lacking DNA and chromosomes from sperm. The mass of replicating embryonic cells is not the product of conventional or artificial conception, yet the Rev. Tad Pacholczyk of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia says:

“My view is that if these grow as organized embryos for the first few days and then arrest, they may just be very short-lived human beings,” he said. “One is very possibly dealing with a defective human being. And at a minimum, the benefit of the doubt should be given here, and these embryos should not be created for the purposes of destroying them.”
Doesn’t the above sound like a knee-jerk reaction, scientifically ill-informed at best, theocratic and doctrinaire at worst? “Very short-lived human beings“? What part of ‘no sperm used’ did he miss in the original research paper? His reasoning does not even follow the fallacious premise that the fetus-fetishizers promote in their abortion-criminalizing campaigns. Or perhaps his objection has more to do with the religious imperative that needs to control women’s reproductive organs and ensure that they are exclusively used for breeding?

But on another level, the Church Fathers may simply be
cheesed off at the multitudes of life-creating and life-saving possibilities that ova promise. Especially since theological constraints ensure that clerics, from the Pope on down, must only shoot duds.


Originally posted at Birth Pangs