Myths And Facts of Stem Cell Research

Armen Hareyan's picture

FDA's approval of embryonic stem cell research by Geron has raised many questions on both camps of those who favor it as bringing treatments and of those who say it has grave ethical considerations of destroying human life. Let's take a look at the myths and facts about the stem cell research in general and see where does the embryonic stem cell research stand in terms of ethical considerations.

The Catholic church teaches that we have a "duty to condemn the particular gravity of the voluntary destruction of
human embryos obtained 'in vitro' for the sole purpose of research..." Donum Vitae (The Gift of Life) I, 5 (1987). This second of three bulletin inserts on Respect Life continues the discussion of the science and morality of stem cell research by dispelling some myths and emphasizing some facts.

Myths about Stem Cell Research

1) Stem cells can only come from embryos. FALSE. Adult stem cells can come morally from adult tissues like bone marrow, fat, and skin, from afterbirth tissues like the placenta and umbilical cord, and from tissues from miscarriages.

2) The Church is opposed to stem cell research. FALSE. The Church encourages all adult stem cell research when the donors have given informed consent.

3) Embryonic stem cell research is necessary. FALSE. No human being has been helped by embryonic stem cells.

4) Adult stem cells are not good enough. FALSE. Thousands of people have been cured with morally acquired adult stem cells. The best successes are with bone marrow stem cell transplants and umbilical cord blood transplants. Well over 70 human diseases have already been treated with adult stem cells, with over 1000 more U.S. trials approved.

5) All excess embryos in fertility clinics will be thrown away. FALSE. Parents often change their minds and choose to implant their embryos or place them for adoption with other couples.

6) The embryos already in fertility clinics are all that scientists want. FALSE. Scientists want to generate new embryos by many different methods, including cloning.

7) Embryonic stem cell research is against the law. FALSE. There are no U.S. or N.C. laws or regulations against destroying human embryos for research purposes.

8) There is no embryonic stem cell research in NC. FALSE. Researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University and other public and private institutions already perform human embryonic stem cell research and/or publicly lobby to increase federal and state funding to destroy more human embryos for research.


Facts About Stem Cell

1) Human life begins with an embryo. Every person started as a single special cell, which grew into an embryo, then a fetus, and then was born.

2) All human embryos are human beings. Whether the embryo is conceived normally inside her mother, in a Petri dish through fertilization of an egg by a sperm, or by cloning, she is still a human being.

3) Creating human embryos outside of the marital conjugal act is immoral. Church teaching is very clear that artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF), freezing embryos, pre-implantation diagnosis, and other reproductive technologies are contrary to God's design for procreation and therefore immoral.

4) Cloning produces an embryo. Regardless of the method, all forms of cloning produce an embryo that must be destroyed to get embryonic stem cells.

5) Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is one type of cloning. SCNT results in an embryo. This is how Dolly the sheep was conceived.

6) Embryonic stem cells have serious disadvantages. Embryonic stem cells tend to form lifethreatening tumors in recipients. Embryonic stem cells have dangerous genetic instability that gets worse over time. Embryonic stem cells from fertility clinic embryos would require dangerous immune suppression if transplanted.

7) You are already funding human embryonic stem cell research. Beginning in 2001 for the first time in US history, President Bush and Congress have authorized approximately $100 million for human embryonic stem cell research with your tax dollars.

8) Millions of human eggs will be needed for embryonic stem cell treatments. Because of the poor rate of acquiring embryonic stem cells from embryos, problems with tumor formation, and the need for matching tissues because of immune rejection, there are not nearly enough human eggs safely available.

9) Human egg donation is painful, dangerous, and potentially deadly. To get enough eggs for research, significant financial incentives are offered to young women. This disproportionately affects poor and/or disadvantaged women. Eggs are harvested surgically after a woman is given a drug to super-ovulate. There are many serious physical side effects including a risk of death.

What can I do about this issue?

To contact your legislators by email or phone start here:
Website: Phone for the State Board of Elections: (919) 733-7173
(They will connect you to your County Board of Elections who will tell you exactly who represents you and how to contact them.)



The National Institues of Health estimate there are about 400,000 frozen IVF embryos in the US alone. At some point of the process (conception, freezing, transfer, unfreezing, or implantation) some embryos are damaged. These embryos are damaged to such a degree, that there is NO potential or possibility of life for them. The NIH estimates about 3% of the 400,000 embryos are damaged to this degree. That equals about 12,000 embryos that could have a heroic purpose in life, rather than simply being thrown into the garbage. Not utilizing these 12,000 embryos to help the rest of mankind ... seems to only double the tragedy of the embryo. DRC, JD
People go to fertility clinics, donate eggs and sperm, fertilize a bunch of eggs into embryos, and then the clinic discards the unused embryos. That's happening now. What a waste. Use the embryos! Extract the stem cells! Cure disease like cancer, spinal cord injuries, heart disease, vascular disease, diabetes. Besides, an embryo is no more a human being than your fingernail -- its "potential" to become a human isn't any greater than the sperm or the egg itself, neither of which are considered "sacred".
By the looks of this, its hard to figure out where the myths and facts start. Complete biast crap.