Sanctity of Life

Sanc·ti·ty of Life: the principle of implied protection regarding aspects of sentient life which are said to be holy, sanctified, or otherwise of such value that they are not to be violated, based on the belief that all human beings are created in God’s image. Posts in this category pertain to abortion, human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and other issues pertaining to the advancement of the culture of life and to the respect and protection of the sanctity of life.

Ayn Rand Institute Hypocrisy

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Media Bias, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

Mary Meets Dolly parses a despicable attempt at rationalization of the inhumanity of human embryos by David Holcberg and Alex Epstein of the Ayn Rand Institute.

The authors use several tactics. Here is the first:

But embryos used in embryonic stem cell research are manifestly not human beings--not in any rational sense of the term. These embryos are smaller than a grain of sand, and consist of at most a few hundred undifferentiated cells. They have no body or body parts. They do not see, hear, feel, or think. While they have the potential to become human beings--if implanted in a woman's uterus and brought to term--they are nowhere near actual human beings.

Unfortunately for them, human embryos are, by unbiased definition, human beings. Genetically, they are fully human. They are not "potential" humans. The self-direct their growth and development, meaning the human embryo manifestly exhibits initiative toward that end. Just because some activist SCOTUS judges arbitrarily conferred "personhood" on human beings only upon the point of birth does not change the scientific evidence, knowledge, and general belief that life exists intrinsically at the moment of conception.

The second tactic is as follows:

The "pro-lifers" accept on faith the belief that rights are a divine creation: a gift from an unknowable supernatural being bestowed on embryos at conception (which many extend to embryos "conceived" in a beaker). The most prominent example of this view is the official doctrine of the Catholic Church, which declares to its followers that an embryo "is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized."

But rights are not some supernatural construct, mystically granted by the will of "God." They are this-worldly principles of proper political interaction rooted in man's rational nature. Rights recognize the fact that men can only live successfully and happily among one another if they are free from the initiation of force against them. Rights exist to protect and further human life. Rights enable individual men to think, act, produce and trade, live and love in freedom. The principle of rights is utterly inapplicable to tiny, pre-human clusters of cells that are incapable of such actions.

I guess, by this logic, every one of our Founding Fathers was a "pro-lifer". May I remind of the following:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...

The endowment of rights is not a function of nor dependent upon the capacity of the person to take advantage of those rights; rather, the intrinsic worth of the person is recognized by the unconditional endowment of those rights. The authors' same logic applies to justification for euthanasia of the elderly, the incapacitated, the mentally retarded, or anyone else not deemed inherently "worthy" of such rights as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is the height of arrogance that these authors would deign to set themselves up as arbiters of the inherent worth of any person, no matter at what stage in that person's development.

The logical progression of this line of rationalization leads to the following harrowing statement:

In fact, to attribute rights to embryos is to call for the violation of actual rights. Since the purpose of rights is to enable individuals to secure their well-being, a crucial right, inherent in the right to liberty and property, is the right to do scientific research in pursuit of new medical treatments. To deprive scientists of the freedom to use clusters of cells to do such research is to violate their rights--as well as the rights of all who would contribute to, invest in, or benefit from this research.

The last person to try such reasoning did so in order to implement said scientific research on another group of humans deemed unworthy of the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The end result: the death of millions of Jews in the Holocaust.

Having fully lost all grasp of reality, the authors resort to what is now the commonplace argument for ESC research:

And to the extent that rights are violated in this way, we can expect deadly results. The political pressure against embryonic stem cell research is already discouraging many scientists and businessmen from investing their time and resources in its pursuit. If this research can lead, as scientists believe, to the ability to create new tissues and organs to replace damaged ones, any obstacles placed in its path will unnecessarily delay the discovery of new cures and treatments for diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and osteoporosis. Every day that this potentially life-saving research is delayed is another day that will go by before new treatments become available to ease the suffering and save the lives of countless individuals. And if the "pro-lifers" ever achieve the ban they seek on embryonic stem cell research, millions upon millions of human beings, living or yet to be born, might be deprived of healthier, happier, and longer lives.

Yet these hypocrites ignore new treatments for such conditions being developed and used every day, when such treatments are derived from adult stem cell research. They gloss over the glaring failure thus far of ESC research to yield even a single viable treatment. They facilitate the propogation of false hope for those suffering from diseases that likely no stem-cell (adult or embryonic) derived treatments will ever help, such as Alzheimer's.

The authors leave us with this conclusion:

The enemies of embryonic stem cell research know this, but are unmoved. They are brazenly willing to force countless human beings to suffer and die for lack of treatments, so that clusters of cells remain untouched.

To call such a stance "pro-life" is beyond absurd. Their allegiance is not to human life or to human rights, but to their anti-life dogma.

If these enemies of human life wish to deprive themselves of the benefits of stem cell research, they should be free to do so and die faithful to the last. But any attempt to impose their religious dogma on the rest of the population is both evil and unconstitutional. In the name of the actual sanctity of human life and the inviolability of rights, embryonic stem cell research must be allowed to proceed unimpeded. Our lives may depend on it.

To claim that an embryo is not a human being is beyond absurd. The proponents of embryonic stem cell research know this, but are unmoved. They are brazenly willing to force their dogmatic, culture-of-death views on the rest of the American people, who continue to demonstrate their disdain for human cloning for any reason, and their disapproval of the destruction of human embryos for research purposes. So, let's recap:

Pro-Life

  • Recognizes intrinsic value of life at every age and stage of deveopment
  • Supports the entirely ethically uncontroversial, already proven, and immensely promising adult stem cell research
  • Opposes embryonic stem cell research because the process destroys human embryos, recognized as intrinsically valuable human life

Culture of Death

  • Denies the inherent worth of life based on developmental stage, mental capacity, age, ability to contribute to society, or any other socially or politically expedient reason
  • Ignores the many advances in adult stem cell research, and the tens of thousands of people whose lives have been improved or even saved by such research
  • Rationalizes an untenable position by attempting to redefine terms and change boundaries, and intentionally give false hope by knowingly making unrealistic claims

Ayn Rand is rolling over in her grave.

Researchers Get OK, Reporter Gets Confused

Filed in Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

So much mis-information, so little time...

Two teams of Boston scientists announced Tuesday that they will attempt to creating the world's first cloned human embryonic stem cells.

Technically speaking, stem cells, by definition, clone themselves. Stem cells are self-replicating.

Harvard Stem Cell Institute and Boston Children's Hospital researchers said they will try to develop a powerful new tool to explore the biology of and create disease-specific stem cell lines that could lead to the treatment of a wide range of now-incurable conditions afflicting tens of millions of people worldwide.

Note to reporter: stem-cell research - especially embryonic stem cell research - is not required to explore the biology of a "wide range of now-incurable conditions." (Though, given the poor grammatical structure of the lead-in sentence, I'm unsure whether she meant "biology of...a wide range of now-incurable conditions" or "biology of...stem cell lines.")

Researchers plan to initially focus on diabetes and then expand to include neurodegenerative diseases, such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig?s Disease, and blood disorders.

Note, again, to reporter: adult stem cell treatments are already proving effective in these areas.

The method, called somatic cell nuclear transfer, involves removing the nucleus, which contains DNA, from an affected cell and replacing it with the nucleus from a donor cell, researchers explained. The cell is then forced to divide into multiple cells that are genetically identical to the healthy donor cell. The method has already proven successful in animal research. Patients with diabetes, blood disease and neurodegeneration will donate the cells. Embryos that were created through in vitro fertilization that have been deemed incapable of producing a pregnancy will be the source of the embryonic cells.

This has to be the most inaccurate explanation of SCNT I've yet seen. Just to clarify:

In somatic cell nuclear transfer the nucleus of a somatic cell (a cell other than a sperm or egg cell) is removed and the rest of the cell is discarded. In parallel, the nucleus of an egg cell is removed. The nucleus of of the somatic cell is then inserted into the denucleated egg cell. The egg, now containing the nucleus of a somatic cell, is stimulated in such a way that it begins to divide.

So, to correct:

  • Enucleated somatic cells are not necessarily "affected" cells; they are simply non-gametic cells from the person to be cloned.
  • The enucleated somatic cell is not placed into an enucleated somatic cell; it is placed into an enucleated egg.
  • The result is not simply another cell; it is a zygote genetically identical to the donor of the somatic cell.
  • The resultant zygote is not merely genetically identical to the donor somatic cell; it is genetically identical to the donor of that somatic cell.
  • The resultant zygote is not forced to divide into multiple cells; it is electrically induced to begin self-directed mitosis, from which the single-cell zygote proceeds into the various stages of embryonic development, and beyond.
  • IVF embryos have absolutely nothing to do with SCNT. Using IVF embryos is an alternate, and currently, only successful, means of harvesting embryonic stem cells.

Moving on:

Human embryonic stem cell research has long been at the center of controversy because in extracting healthy cells, days-old human embryos are destroyed. Embryonic cells are used because they are capable of developing into any cell or tissue type in the body. Opponents of the work claim that no potential medical benefit can justify the destruction of what they view as a human life.

"What they view" as human life? Embryologists universally agree that first, the blastocyst from which stem cells are harvested (and which is destroyed in the process) is an embryo, and second, that embryos, being self-directing in their growth and development, are living. Thus, human embryos are human life.

Harvard President Lawrence Summers is hopeful the research will lead to millions of people being able to live healthier lives.

"While we understand and respect the sincerely held beliefs of those who oppose this research, we are equally sincere in our belief that the life-and-death medical needs of countless suffering children and adults justifies moving forward with this research," Summers said in a release about the work.

Then again:

"Given that embryos are human beings, they have a right to self and a right to life. Exploiting their parts (ie, cells) or killing them for research is moral trespass that society should not allow. Even if the research might, and let’s be clear, might benefit others, this trespass is not justified."

--James Sherley, Ph.D. associate professor of biological engineering at MIT

ESC Research Nearing Obsolescence?

Filed in Science, Social IssuesTags: Cloning, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

The Missouri Roundtable blog reports that German scientists have acquired pluripotent stem cells from an adult mouse testis, the discovery of the presence of multi-lineage stem cells in amniotic fluid, and the development of a technique to acquire in large numbers blastomere-like stem cells (BLSCs), which have been demonstrated to be able to differentiate into most tissue types of the body, from peripheral blood.

If ESC researchers don't hurry up, their work will be rendered useless.

Definition Of Embryo Death Criteria May Open Doors For Stem Cell Research

Filed in Science, Social IssuesTags: Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

From Medical News Today comes this interesting report that could perhaps avert some of the ethical controversy surrounding the use of IVF embryos:

A research team from Columbia has, for the first time, identified criteria through which embryo death can be confirmed. The implications for stem cell research are huge - by confirmation of embryo death, embryos could be harvested, just as organs are for transplantation, in order to generate stem cells for research and, ultimately, therapeutic purposes.

The details:

They found that many nonviable embryos (n = 142 out of 444) were hypocellular and lacked compaction on embryonic day 5 (ED5). All of the hypocellular embryos failed to progress to compacted morula or normal blastocyst when observed further. The research team conclude that arrested development at the multicellular stage on ED5 indicates an irreversible loss of integrated organic function, and hence, the condition of death.

The practical implication:

Approximately a fifth of all embryos generated for in vitro fertilization - conventionally classified as ‘nonviable' - are in fact dead on ED5 by Landry's criteria... The researchers propose that the ethical framework currently used for obtaining essential organs from deceased persons for transplantation could be applied to the harvesting of live cells from dead human embryos for the creation of stem cells.

If these embryonic death criteria can be further investigated and confirmed, and if such nonviable embryos can, in fact, yield usable tissue for research, then these researchers may have just found a way to harvest embryonic stem cells without the ethical/moral stigma of having destroyed viable human life in order to do so.

I would guess that these observations are in their infancy with respect to practical use and widespread acceptance, but for the time being, I'll take a "cautiously optimistic" stance.

Comparing Stem Cell Poll Questions

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

Anne Leonard of the Stem Cell Research Blog compares stem cell poll questions, and their divergent results.

The first poll question, from the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR), which polled 72% strongly/somewhat in favor:

Embryonic stem cells are special cells which can develop into every type of cell in the human body. The stem cells are extracted from embryonic cells produced in fertility clinics and then frozen days after fertilization. If a couple decides the fertilized eggs are no longer needed, they can choose to donate the embryos for research or the clinic will throw the embryos away. Scientists have had success in initial research with embryonic stem cells and believe that they can be developed into cures for diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s, heart disease, juvenile diabetes, and spinal cord injuries. Having heard this description, do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose medical research that uses stem cells from human embryos?

The second poll question, from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which polled 48% opposed:

Stem cells are the basic cells from which all of a person's tissues and organs develop. Congress is considering the question of federal funding for experiments using stem cells from human embryos. The live embryos would be destroyed in their first week of development to obtain these cells. Do you support or oppose using your federal tax dollars for such experiments?

She then, after comparing the two poll questions, comes to the following conclusion:

I find the CAMR question better designed (despite its use of “success”) and more objective than the Bishops’ question, which has a lot of ambiguity in it. Maybe I am reading with my own biases and knowledge—but I think providing information about an issue yields a better question than vague and unspecific language.

Huh? The Bishops' question is more "vague" and has more "ambiguity" than the CAMR question? Let's compare, shally we?

Ambiguous:

The stem cells are extracted from embryonic cells produced in fertility clinics and then frozen days after fertilization.

Stem cells are not extracted from "embryonic cells", they are extracted from embryos (destroying them in the process).

Not Ambiguous:

The live embryos would be destroyed in their first week of development to obtain these cells.

Ambiguous:

Scientists have had success in initial research with embryonic stem cells and believe that they can be developed into cures for diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s, heart disease, juvenile diabetes, and spinal cord injuries.

Embryonic stem cell (ESC) research has yielded no success whatsoever in treating any human injury, illness, or condition.

Not Ambiguous:

Congress is considering the question of federal funding for experiments using stem cells from human embryos.

So, exactly, which poll question is more vague and ambiguous?

More interestingly, and which the post doesn't even address, is this follow-up question in the Bishops' poll, which polled 81% against:

Should scientists be allowed to use human cloning to create a supply of human embryos to be destroyed in medical research?

This question is actually better in comparison to the CAMR question, since the two are more comparable. The entire IVF embryo question is really a red herring, since ESR research proponents prefer "fresh" embryos, and consider frozen embryos to be inferior. Thus, ESR research will come primarily from SCNT-cloned embryos, against which this poll question shows strong opposition.

Never Give Up, Indeed

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Missouri, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

Apparently, Lene Johansen doesn't think that those who support banning human cloning should keep challenging the Stem Cell Initiative.

No, we will never give up. It has something to do with the Initiative, through an intentionally deceptive attempt to re-define "cloning", claiming that the Initiative bans human cloning, while in reality it constitutionally prohibits the legislature from banning human cloning.

So, no; we won't give up, until every Missourian knows the truth. Missourians have the right to make informed decisions about this issue.

Say What?

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Missouri, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

Among other things in this article on the one-year anniversary of Massachussetts' pro-embryonic stem cell (ESC) research legislation, I found this little gem [emphasis added]:

After years of honing his skills in Massachusetts, the 34-year-old stem cell researcher received an offer from a privately endowed research center in Kansas City.

There was only one hitch. In Missouri, Cowan said, he feared his type of research could land him behind bars. In contrast, he felt Massachusetts had put out a welcome mat.

Talk about sensationalism! "Land him in jail"? Really? Considering that none of the research being conducted in Massachussetts is illegal in Missouri, that fear is rather spurious.

Oh, and a side note: I would harbor a guess that the "privately endowed research center in Kansas City" mentioned in the article is none other than the Stowers Institute, founded by the same Jim and Virginia Stowers who are bank-rolling the Missouri Stem Cell Initiative.

The article has more of the usual mis-information. After generally getting the facts straight for most of the article, we come to the following critical failure:

At the heart of the stem cell debate is a procedure known both as somatic cell nuclear transfer or therapeutic cloning.

The basic science involves taking an egg from a woman, removing the 23 chromosomes that would normally match up with 23 chromosomes from a sperm, and replacing them with a full 46 chromosome nucleus from any cell of an adult, essentially creating a single cell clone.

The egg is then induced to begin reproducing until there is a ball of a few hundred stem cells that have the ability to transform themselves into any type of cell in the body. The goal is to use those cells to create cures or treatments for disease.

Good information, up to "single cell clone" - but then the article gets it wrong. That "single cell clone" is no longer an egg, but a zygoe: a single-cell embryo. The embryo proceeds through mitosis (cell division) and into the various stages of embryonic development. At the stage in question - the blastocyst stage - the embryo is comprised of inner and outer cell masses. The outer cell mass will later become the placenta, and the inner mass (which contains the stem cells) progresses into the fetal stages of human development.

In order to use those stem cells, the embryo must be destroyed. A "ball of cells" is not removed from the developing embryo; a developing human being is killed.

The article's conclusion falls under the category of "unintentional irony" [emphasis added]:

Despite his enthusiasm, Zon tries to temper public expectations about the research.

He said the short term goal -- over the next five years or so -- is to gain a greater understanding of human development and use tissue created through human embryonic stem cell research to experiment with potential treatments for diseases.

The longer term goal -- over the next 10 years -- is to create new cells to actually replace defective parts.

"We are just at the beginning," he said.

The only thing realistic here is the last sentence. Every indication is that any real progress with ESC research is, at a minimum, decades away. How giving the impression that meaningful results are 5-10 years away constitutes "tempering public opinion", I can't fathom.

I Don’t Want To Hear It

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is attempting to use Embryonic Stem Cell (ESC) research as a wedge issue in his re-election campaign. In so doing, it isn't surprising that he falls squarely in line with ESC proponents, by pandering to false-hope sensationalism and attempting to claim a moral/emotional high ground.

I've covered this ground before, and will continue to do so:

The Democrat senator told a panel of experts and advocates at Hackensack University Medical Center that the Republican majority leadership in the U.S. Senate has blocked a vote on his bill to allow funding for work on stem cell lines from new embryos.

The panel, which included Rep. Steve Rothman, D-Fair Lawn, was the first of three campaign stops in North Jersey for Menendez, who replaced Jon Corzine in the Senate and is running for a full term. Other panelists included advocates for research in Parkinson's disease, juvenile diabetes and blood cancers.

I wonder if any of these "advocates" support the Adult Stem Cell (ASC) research that is actually producing meaningful, useful, and promising results in these areas?

But it is the following pander by Menendez that irks me incredibly:

Menendez said the stem cell debate is personal for him because his 85-year-old mother suffers from Alzheimer's disease, one of many illnesses that future research might cure, he said.

"It's difficult to sit across from your mom and have her not know who you are," he said.

Note to Menendez: you don't own the moral high ground on this issue. And I don't want to hear it.

I am sick of Alzheimer's being used as the battle-standard of ESC proponents, and I am equally sick of ESC proponents claiming moral and compassionate superiority over their opponents because of Alzheimer's. The ESC proponents are not the only ones ever to lose a loved one because of Alzheimer's. I never truly knew my grandfather, because by the time I was old enough to have a relationship with him, he was already too mentally deteriorated from the amazing, sharp-witted, character-discerning, loving man my family knew him to be, due to the Alzheimer's that eventually claimed his life when I was a freshman in high school.

Further, it is very likely that I am genetically pre-disposed to Alzheimer's - so I have even more of a vested interest in medical advances and research that will hopefully one day understand and cure this horrendous disease. But I will be damned (and I mean that quite literally) if I put the value of my own life before anyone else's - and that includes cloned or frozen embryos.

I would rather die than destroy another human life - especially when that life would be destroyed for the purpose of research that has produced no meaningful results whatsoever, while other research, having no ethical concerns whatsoever, continues to progress and bring real results and real hope and promise.

Consistent with the Clone the Truth campaign, I am committed to ensuring that the truth about adult and embryonic stem cell and related research is made known.

Thomas Aquinas on Embryoes

Filed in Politics, Religion, Science, Social IssuesTags: Christianity, Cloning, Missouri, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

The spin:

St. Thomas Aquinas, the premier teacher in the Roman Catholic tradition, did not think the early fetus was a person - "ensouled," in his language. St. Thomas believed the early life in the womb received a spiritual soul - and became a baby - only after three to four months. Thus, embryonic cells in a lab dish or frozen away are certainly not "ensouled."

The reality

It is true that Aquinas did believe that the soul was not infused at the beginning of a pregnancy. This is because Aquinas followed Aristotle’s embryology (circa 300 B.C.) and believed that an embryo was not formed enough to receive a soul until well into its development. However, 21st century embryology provides clear evidence that everything the soul needs is present from the first moment of every human being’s existence - as numerous Catholic scholars have explained. Aquinas would undoubtedly accept this evidence and agree with the Church’s current teaching.

Further, St. Thomas also believed the intentional ending of a pregnancy at any stage was a sin - regardless of when the soul was present. Thus, he remains firmly within the tradition of the Church in respecting human life at all stages.

More parsing of the original op-ed, later.

Via John Combest.

Required Reading on Stem Cell Ethics

Filed in Politics, Religion, Science, Social IssuesTags: Christianity, Clone The Truth, Cloning, Media Bias, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

This interview of Bioethics Senior Scholar Dr. John Kilmer in Christian today is absolutely required reading.

Dr. Kilmer addresses two primary ethical considerations.

First, he addresses the ethical concern of destroying embryoes in order to obtain embryonic stem cells (ESCs) [emphasis added]:

However, one real concern is where we are getting these stem cells from.

We want to highlight the difference between embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells because in terms of adult stem cells they can be obtained without harming the source from which they are being obtained. Whereas embryonic stem cells require destroying embryonic human beings from which they are taken.

But granting for the sake of time that human beings do begin at the embryonic stage – these would be the earliest stage of human being – then one ethical concern is that we do not destroy or harm human beings to obtain these cells. That is one core ethical dilemma.

Second, he addresses the ethical concern of truthful communication regarding stem cell research [emphasis added]:

One other great concern is about how this is being discussed in the media, public policy, and various arenas. The fact is that so often just the term ‘stem cell’ is used, and this promotes the idea that either you are for or against stem cell research. So the discussion may be narrower about some form of stem cell research, but by using the non-specific general term of stem cell, it implies that if you are not for it then you are hard-hearted, uncompassionate, and you don’t care about these people dying.

This is a serious ethical concern – an ethic of truthful communication. Far more has been accomplished with adult stem cell research than embryonic stem cell research. Apart from the ethical issues evolved in destroying embryonic human beings, adult stem cell research has produced results so it is simply not truthful to say that major embryonic breakthroughs are right on the verge and we should channel all our resources to embryonic stem cell research.

After devoting some time to comparing the ethical concerns of cloning, ESC research, and abortion, and then discussing some of the issues with federal and state-level politics, Dr. Kilmer addresses the issue of bioethics education and the church. Before I get to that discussion, though, I want to highlight some of Dr. Kilmer's comments regarding cloning: comments directly related to the Missouri Stem Cell Initiative, and to the tactics of the so-called Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures [emphasis added]:

So people recognise that for embryonic stem cell research to be really widely useful medically we would have to produce cells that are genetically matched to your body and the only way to do that is to produce an embryo that is a clone of you and destroy that embryo to get the embryonic stem cells that could be used in the treatment in you.

...

I’ll just add that ‘P.S.’ here – this is another example of where the really intentional miscommunication comes into play – because what happens now is proponents of embryonic stem cell research in some locations have begun to argue that ‘What we’ve done here isn’t really cloning. It is only cloning if you are having born babies.

‘But what we are doing in this research process (sometimes they just use the technical name for cloning which is called SCNT or Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer), we are just doing that and we are not engaged in cloning.’

Sound familiar? It should. But, as Dr. Kilmer points out [emphasis added]:

This is terribly misleading and really dishonest because the cloning process is completed once you have a new beginning embryo. The cloning is the description of the process by which you actually produce another human being, virtually a genetic replica of an existing human being and the rest is just that being growing and developing. The cloning is done at the point you have the early embryo.

So why would ESC proponents use such a tactic? Again, as Dr. Kilmer points out, the intent is to mislead [emphasis added]:

So to say that we are just going to define that ‘It is not a clone until it develops all the way through to birth and is born’ is just outrageous because it confuses people and makes them think that ‘Oh, that is reassuring, that what you are talking about in embryonic stem cell research doesn’t involve cloning then it may be ok.

Finally, the interview wraps with Dr. Kilmer's comments on the current state of the church with respect to the issue of bioethics, and the need for more church pastoral and lay leaders to become educated in bioethics:

I think that what is happening in the Church today is people are becoming more and more aware of bioethics issues, but I think they hear more about them through the culture and through the public than through the Church. I also think that the Church has been lagging behind the public in terms of informing people and in terms of helping people develop a Christian understanding and outlook on these issues so when they hear about them they have some ideas of how this connect to Christian faith.

Please, do read the entire article/interview.

Via Missourians Against Human Cloning.