Home

If They Say... You Say...

A Prolifer's Guide to Talking About Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning

Embryonic stem cell research and human cloning are two of the most controversial issues of the day. The following information gives examples of arguments from those in favor of human embryonic stem cell research and human cloning for research and gives rebuttals to these arguments. Prolife people also want to see cures for diseases, but not at the expense of fellow members of the human race. In order for prolifers to change hearts and minds on these issues they must engage those in favor of them in civil discussions and compel those who don't support the right to life for all to explain and justify their beliefs.


If they say...

Isn’t it a prolife position to support all stem cell research and help people who are living?

You say...

The problem is that one form of stem cell research, embryonic stem cell research, requires living human embryos to be killed for their stem cells. It is not prolife to kill one group of human beings in the hope of treating or curing another group of human beings. The prolife position recognizes that every innocent human life regardless of size, strength and location is valuable and deserving of protection.


If they say...

It’s just a frozen fertilized egg. What’s the big deal?

You say...

This statement is false. A fertilized egg or zygote are terms often used to describe a one-cell human in her first day of development. A fertilized egg or zygote does not have any stem cells to extract because she is only one cell. Embryonic stem cells are removed from embryos who are around a week old. These embryos are also called blastocysts, and they number around a hundred or so cells.

It is also important to mention that an embryo is no less valuable if she is frozen than if she is in her mother’s womb. The stage of development, temperature and size of a human being doesn’t determine whether human beings are valuable or not. The fact that an embryo is a living human being is what makes her priceless.


If they say...

All of these embryos will just be destroyed anyway, so why not use them to help people now?

You say. . .

Embryonic research advocates act like all of the embryos currently frozen in fertility clinics will be thrown away. This, however, is simply not the case. The parents generally have at least two other options. First, preserve the embryos for possible future attempts at pregnancy (chosen by about 90 percent according to a study by the RAND corporation). Second, donate the embryos to another couple struggling with infertility so they can have children.

There are programs like the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program and National Embryo Donation Center available which match couples looking to adopt with other couples who are the biological parents of frozen embryos. This option allows couples struggling with infertility to give birth to a newborn child while at the same time giving a human embryo the chance to be born. Advocates of human embryonic stem cell research claim all of these “leftover” embryos will be “thrown away,” but prolife citizens across the country know better. The smallest members of our human family can develop into infants, toddlers and adults if they are given the chance.

It is theorized that embryos from fertilization clinics will be used for the initial experiments. However, some in the biotechnology community have anticipated the supply of embryos from clinics won’t be enough for their research. This is where human cloning for research (often labeled “therapeutic cloning” by its proponents) enters the picture. During a Congressional Committee hearing, a representative of Biotechnology Industry Organization said the cloning of human embryos for research is “a critical and necessary step in the production of sufficient quantities of vigorous replacement cells for the clinical treatment of patients.”


If they say...

Embryonic stem cells have the greatest potential to cure a variety of diseases.

You say...

Research breakthroughs using adult stem cells, stem cells from umbilical cords and induced pluripotent stem cells have shown us we don’t need to kill human embryos to treat diseases. Research with adult stem cells and stem cells from umbilical cords have already been used to help treat human patients suffering from a wide variety of ailments. These treatments are completely life-affirming since they do not require some human beings to be sacrificed in the vague hope of treating others.

Embryonic stem cells have a tendency to form tumors when used in animals and also can be rejected by the patient’s immune system because they have a different genetic code.

A strategic spending plan released by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine hoped that after an estimated 10 years and $3 billion in state tax dollars there will be some early clinical trials using embryonic stem cells. They did seriously doubt, however, the chance of “fully develop(ing) stem cell therapies for routine clinical use” with this spending plan. Years later, embryonic stem cell research in California is still far behind where research using adult stem cells is today.


If they say...

Cloned embryos aren’t really alive

You say...

Cloned embryos are alive. If they aren’t alive, then how are they growing? If they aren’t alive, then how are they developing? If these embryos weren’t alive, they would be of no use to researchers. Attempts to define the beginning of life at a point besides fertilization have proven futile. The life of a human being begins as a zygote which, if allowed, develops into an embryo and then a fetus and then a newborn and then a toddler and so on.


If they say...

Cloned embryos aren’t really human. This is cellular life; not human life.

You say...

Cloned embryos wouldn’t be random collections of cells but living, developing human beings. If these embryos are alive, then they must fit into some classification of species and genus. Living organisms don’t start out as one kind of species and then change into another kind of species when they become more developed. This is human life, plain and simple.

Some researchers hope to clone human embryos to become large enough to produce stem cells. Researchers then want to remove stem cells from the cloned human embryos (which will end the lives of these human embryos) and experiment on these cells. Advocates of human cloning for research usually call this “therapeutic cloning” even though no therapies have been developed.

Some believe stem cells from cloned human embryos are human enough for research but not human enough to join the human family. This logic defies the reality that life begins at fertilization, a truth some researchers and politicians have chosen to ignore.


If they say...

Somatic cell nuclear transfer isn’t really human cloning because scientists don’t intend to place the embryo in a woman’s womb, right?

You say...

The truth is, somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is human cloning. Somatic cell nuclear transfer is the name for the scientific method researchers use to create clones. There is no escaping this fact.

What the researcher intends to do with the cloned embryo doesn’t change the fact that human cloning has occurred. An embryo who was cloned so her stem cells could be extracted is no less of a human than an embryo who was cloned to become a child for an infertile couple. Each human life has identity, dignity and an inherent right to life.

It is also important to mention that cloned embryos don’t suddenly become human if they are placed in a woman’s womb. These human embryos are already human. Location does not change the identity of a human being. The intent of a scientist’s research, whether it be for reproductive or research reasons, doesn’t change the fact that cloning humans is experimenting on and manipulating human life.


If they say...

We should ban reproductive cloning but keep therapeutic cloning legal. Isn’t that a fair compromise?

You say...

Actually, in a lot of ways therapeutic cloning (or human cloning for research) is worse than reproductive cloning. Even though misguided attempts at reproductive cloning research would lead to the deaths of hundreds of humans, the goal is to keep the embryos alive. “Therapeutic cloning” doesn’t want to keep these embryos alive past the stage where scientists will be able to harvest stem cells. Those interested in human cloning for research care only about the stem cells that might be removed from the embryos, but they don’t care about the actual human beings who are being created and sacrificed for science.

Human cloning for research takes away the intrinsic value of human life. The cloned embryos used for this research are living human beings, yet they will never be treated as such. They will be treated as products and commodities who are created to serve the needs of others. Any action taken to create or destroy human beings based on their genetic qualities denies their intrinsic value.

Do we really want a society that uses science and research as an excuse to create, experiment on, manipulate and kill the most defenseless members of the human family?


If they say...

Most cloned embryos wouldn’t survive more than a few days, so what’s wrong with experimenting on them in hopes of helping people with various diseases?

You say...

One of the biggest problems with therapeutic human cloning is it creates a new class of human beings; humans created solely for their stem cells which will be removed, ending their young lives. These embryos aren’t seen as living, developing humans, but they are seen as utilities and resources for those who are ailing. Scientists should not be allowed to create a human life merely to destroy it in the name of research. No matter how noble the purpose, human life created merely for experimentation is wrong. Destroying some humans in the hopes of helping others isn’t human therapy, it’s human sacrifice.

The advancement of scientific research is not a worthy reason to end the life of another human. Once we start experimenting on embryonic human life, what’s next? What if scientists were able to create an artificial womb where these cloned embryos could grow into fetuses? Could these fetuses then be killed so scientists could remove their fetal stem cells or organs?


If they say...

We need therapeutic cloning to help cure various diseases. Why should this helpful research be stopped?

You say...

Research and clinical studies using stem cells from adults and umbilical cords have shown results of which cloning proponents can only dream. Why should scientists be allowed to create life through cloning and then destroy these lives when there are other research avenues that don’t compromise ethics and have shown more promising results?

Therapeutic cloning will never save millions of lives. In order for this research to cure millions of people, scientists who clone embryos would need to get their hands on hundreds of millions of human eggs.

Women who may consider “donating” their eggs for research purposes face several physical risks that include bleeding, scarring and pelvic swelling. The “donation” process requires self-injections of powerful hormones to boost the release of multiple eggs. If these hormones produce too many eggs, they can cause hyperstimulation syndrome, which can lead to strokes.

This is not quick, simple research by any means, but enormously complex and unproven. No one knows for certain if embryonic stem cells will lead to cures, but we do know every time stem cells are removed from a human embryo, a human life ends.


If they say...

This kind of research could save lives. We should explore all areas of research to find ways to cure such a wide array of diseases.

You say...

Even though some researchers think this research could be helpful, it is still never ethically correct to sacrifice the life of one human to save another without their consent. This kind of utilitarian thinking was the same kind of rationale used by Nazi scientists and during syphilis experiments on African-Americans in Tuskegee, Alabama.

Medical advancement should continue but not through the destruction of human life. No human beings should be forced to be the subject of research without their permission, especially if that research leads directly to their death.


If they say...

If we can’t obtain more embryonic stem cells, then millions of people will never be treated?

You say...

Right now adult stem cells and/or stem cells from umbilical cord blood have treated human patients who have a wide variety of ailments, including sickle-cell anemia, spinal cord injuries, heart failure, leukemia, Parkinson’s, lupus and many more. There are currently hundreds of clinical trials using these life-affirming cells. We currently have the ability to use stem cells to help treat patients suffering from some of the worst ailments without killing human embryos. Study after study on life-affirming stem cell research shows we don’t need to kill human embryos to help people.

top

© RIGHT TO LIFE OF MICHIGAN, 2340 PORTER ST SW, PO BOX 901, GRAND RAPIDS, MI 49509-0901, (616) 532-2300
PRIVACY POLICY | VIDEO/IMAGE USAGE POLICY