WORCESTER, October 18, 2005 ( -Â The mainstream media (MSM) is alive with reports that another embryo researcher has “solved” the ethical problem of using embryos to obtain stem cells. But the announcement is little more than further proof that there is almost no understanding of the pro-life objections to the proceedures on the part of the research community.

This time the news comes from researchers at the private Massachusetts-based biotech firm Advanced Cell Technology who say that the removal of single cells from an early-stage embryo can be accomplished without always killing the emrbyo.

The method, published on-line this week in the journal Nature, is the same as that used to perform pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).

“If you are taking that cell anyway, let’s make a stem-cell line that can benefit all of humanity as well as the child,” said ACT’s scientific director, Robert Lanza. “No one wants to destroy a human embryo if they don’t have to,” he said.

The real news about the story however, is that it is not news. “Blastomere separation” the removal of individual cells from an early-stage embryo has long been standard proceedure in IVF facilities when not enough embryos have been created. The cells removed are prized by stem cell researchers because at such an early stage, all the cells in the embryo are “totipotent” that is, able to form any type of tissue, including a new twin embryo.

Dr. John Shea, medical advisor to Canada’s Campaign Life Coaltion, said the obvious is being missed. Shea told that while it is often possible to remove a cell from an embryo without harming it, this is not guaranteed. “Sometimes it is possible to remove a cell from an embryo without killing it, but the point is that to take the risk without benefitting the embryonic human being is unethical according to the standards established by the Nuremberg Code.”

Shea said, “They just refuse to admit that the embryo is a human being and so all the rules regarding medical research on human beings have to be applied. You have to get consent, and no parent can consent to allowing medical research on a child that is not intended to benefit the child.”

But all of this is beside the point says Shea. “The whole business is unethical to begin with because the embryos should never have been created by this artificial process in the first place. The child has a fundamental right to be conceived naturally by two parents within marriage. That’s the basic starting point.”

Since the prohibition by the Bush administration on federal funding for stem cell research using new lines of embryonic cells, researchers have been regularly announcing that they have “solved the ethical problems” of embryonic stem cells. In each case, however, the entire point made by pro-life advocates is shown to have been missed by a research community that is incapable of acknowledging the existence of a pre-born human being.

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