Tuesday, November 20, 2007

When is an Embryo a Child?

Today the media reported on some pretty ground-breaking stem cell research that produced pluripotent stem cells (cells that can become any cell) from skin cells. Organizations like the National Catholic Bioethics Center are celebrating the research, since it doesn't involve the destruction of human embryos.

Then it dawned on me. When it comes to stem-cell research, embryos are called embryos. Not unborn children. Not children. Not babies. Not infants. Not human beings. They're, accurately, labeled as embryos. When it comes to abortion, embryos are not called embryos. They're called unborn children, children, babies, infants, and human beings.

Here's an example. I just looked at the National Right to Life's website, an anti-choice organization that claims to be the biggest pro-life group in the country. They have sections about abortion and "human cloning" which is their term for stem-cell research. The "human cloning" part of their website is entitled "KILLING HUMAN EMBRYOS" (yes, it's all in caps. You think I could make that up?). I looked at a few of the more recent press releases regarding stem cell research, and not once did "baby," "child," or "person" appear in place of "embryo" in their statements.

However, on their "Defining Abortion" page, "child" and "baby" are each used twice. On their "Abortion Medical Facts" section, "child/children" is used 13 times and "baby" is used 19 times to refer to an embryo or fetus.

What changed? Why isn't an embryo created intentionally for scientific purposes a person, but an embryo created by accident is suddenly a baby or child? If an embryo is still a child deserving of life, whether wanted or unwanted, whether created through consensual sex or rape or incest, then why isn't an embryo a child when it's going to be used for stem cells?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Reading this was like a drink of water when I'm dying of thirst. Thank you.