Monday, June 06, 2005

Another Claim Bites the Dust for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Advocates would have us believe that we are wasting hundreds of thousands of opportunities by not destroying human embryos (for the sake of medical research) that will otherwise be discarded. Steve Chapman exposes the myth:

Start with the claim that 400,000 frozen embryos otherwise would go to waste. The truth is that most of them are anything but "surplus." According to a 2003 survey by researchers at the RAND Corp., a California think tank, 88 percent of them are being stored for their original function: to make babies for their parents.

Just 2.2 percent of the embryos have been designated for disposal, and less than 3 percent for research. The latter group amounts to about 11,000 embryos.

When the president had a White House event hosting parents who adopted embryos from fertility clinics, his critics ridiculed the suggestion that this approach could accommodate 400,000 embryos. Finding parents for 11,000 embryos, however, is not so far-fetched. Every year, 125,000 adoptions take place in this country.

For those who think there isn't a genie in the bottle, Mr. Chapman also reveals what the real objective is for the legislation that recently passed the House:

The biggest myth, though, is that scientists will be content with using existing, leftover embryos. The 11,000 embryos, according to the RAND study, would yield no more than 275 stem cell lines. For the task of curing major diseases, an article in Scientific American last year said "hundreds of thousands" of lines may be needed -- which "could require millions of discarded embryos."

But there is no prospect of having millions of discarded embryos. So what will advocates of embryonic stem cell research do when their needs exceed the supply? They will ask for government subsidies to produce additional embryos for experimentation.

Actually, that's not what they will do -- it's what they've already done. Last year, California voters approved $3 billion in state funding for stem cell research, including experiments on embryos created through "therapeutic cloning." ...

So why have the advocates pushed for the much narrower federal bill passed by the House? Because they want Americans to get used to the idea of destroying human embryos in research. Then it will be a small step to get the public to accept what they really want -- creating human life in order to destroy it.

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