On Monday, it was reported that a recent study shows that scientists want to harvest more unborn babies for scientific research on stem cells.
“During the Great Stem Cell debate, ‘the scientists’ said they ‘only’ wanted to be able to create and experiment on embryos up to 14 days of development, when cells begin to differentiate. Of course, at the time they couldn’t maintain them for longer than 14 days, so nothing was actually limited,” writes Wesley Smith for Life News.
“Now that they can, they plan to ditch the ‘14 day rule’ as it is called — actually, it is a guideline since it isn’t legally binding — promulgated by the International Society for Stem Cell Research.”
For the last 40 years, this voluntary guideline has served as an important stop sign for embryonic research. It has provided a clear signal to the public that scientists wouldn’t grow babies in labs. To researchers, it gave clarity about what research they could pursue.
Now, however, a key scientific body is ready to do away with the 14-day limit. The action would come at a time when scientists are making remarkable progress in growing embryonic cells and watching them develop. Researchers, for example, can now create embryo-like structures starting even from stem cells, and some hope to follow these synthetic embryo models well past the old two-week line.
“And after that? Once embryos can be gestated in artificial uteruses, why not go to one month, three months, or six months? Hell, why not up to the point of birth?” writes Smith.
The MIT paper adds:
Scientists are motivated to grow embryos longer in order to study — and potentially manipulate — the development process. But such techniques raise the possibility of someday gestating animals outside the womb until birth, a concept called ectogenesis.
According to [bioethicist Tetsuya] Ishii, new experiments “might ignite abortion debates,” especially if the researchers develop human embryos to the point where they take on recognizable characteristics like a head, beating heart cells, or the beginning of limbs.
Smith contends that “All of these talks of ‘limits’ and ‘ethical boundaries’ are a big con. Guidelines will not protect against abuse because those in charge will keep changing the guidelines. And people wonder why there is so much distrust of our institutions.”
What are your thoughts on the increase in aborted babies being used for stem cell research?