In an editorial published last week in The Michigan Daily (From the Daily: New life for stem cells, 01/10/07), the editorial board asserted that “while amniotic stem cells are a very promising discovery that should be further explored, there’s no reason for scientists to abandon the sure thing,” meaning embryonic stem cell research.

The editorial board demonstrates its failure to understand the nature of the stem-cell debate by focusing the bulk of its arguments on the relative effectiveness of embryonic stem-cell research versus the newer method. I am no scientist, so I won’t enter into that debate, especially considering that it is quite irrelevant.

There is only one question in this debate that matters. That question is, are embryos human lives? If we answer in the negative, we are faced with two distinct difficulties. The first is explaining what precisely these embryos actually are. They are new entities, ontologically different from the sperm and egg that came together to form them. They are genetically human and distinct from their parents. The most natural conclusion is to say that they are human.

The second difficulty is that there exists no other clear moment at which one can define the beginning of human life. All other potential points that one could use are sliding scales, imprecisely defined. The logical conclusion of failing to clearly define the beginning of human life at conception can already be seen in the Netherlands, where the chilling Groningen Protocol allows the murder of infants by their parents and doctors.

The Daily does address the one pertinent question and at one point argues that because 90 percent of embryos are killed without regard to embryonic stem-cell research, “what exactly is so anti-life about using such embryos to potentially save countless lives?” The moral blindness of this argument is stunning.

Essentially, the Daily presents us with the fait accompli of scores of murdered embryos, and then suggests that since we are going to kill them anyway, we may as well do some experiments. It does not occur to the editorial board to question whether these embryos should be killed in the first place, only what methods ought to be used for doing so. I look forward to an upcoming editorial on how we should experiment on death row inmates with deadly diseases. After all, they are going to die anyway. The logic is precisely the same.

The new research into amniotic stem-cells is promising, and may even have potential equal to that of embryonic stem-cells. That question, however, is simply not relevant to the debate. Embryonic stem-cell research entails the murder of human beings. It should not matter to us how much knowledge we gain when we lose our souls.

Sean Moberg is an LSA junior.

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