During WWII, the Nazis massacred innocent Jews by the millions. Because they were to be killed anyway, the Nazis first used some of them for experiments, such as leaving them out in the freezing weather to see just how long a human could survive before freezing to death. Today, we think of their actions as despicable and as a disgrace to the study of science. Yet the same offense, experimentation on innocent and defenseless human beings, is openly advocated today on a more shameful and potentially much larger scale.
Stem Cell Research is one of the most controversial issues of our day. And if you are like most people, you are probably not even quite sure what a stem cell is! If you even have an opinion on this topic, it’s most likely based on what you heard someone else say. I have done research in order to provide you with facts regarding this serious issue so that you will be equipped to discern the truth. I will explain what a stem cell is, the breakthroughs and alternatives in the study of stem cells, when life begins, and what you can do about stem cell research.
So let’s start at the beginning. What is a stem cell? A stem cell is an unspecialized, or “blank” cell that has the ability to turn into many different kinds of cells such as skin, bone, or brain cells. It is simply a cell that has not yet been specialized into a certain bodily function. Doctors can use stem cells to cure diseases by replacing damaged cells with stem cells. So, what is an embryonic stem cell? This is a stem cell taken from a 5-8 day old embryo.
Stem cells are very different depending on whether they are taken from an adult or from an embryo. Embryonic stem cells are often considered the best type of stem cell because they can change into any kind of cell and they can do it better and faster than adult stem cells. However, this incredible ability also presents problems: scientists do not know how to control embryonic stem cells from turning into the wrong kind of cell. For example, out-of-control embryonic stem cells can grow different organs in the wrong places or create tumors instead of cures. But most importantly, embryonic stem cells cannot be removed from a living embryo without killing the embryo. The picture to the left and at the top of this post show an embryo with it's stem cells removed. It is at the moment this photo was taken that the life of the embryo was taken away.
In contrast to the continuing dangers and dilemmas of embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells have already been life-saving in numerous documented cases. In 2008 I met Carol Franz, a woman who had been diagnosed with a cancer. Through transplants of her own stem cells, she survived two bouts of multiple myeloma cancer. Today she speaks publicly about her treatments because she wants people to know that no embryos had to die for her to live.
There are over 70 diseases or conditions that have been successfully affected by adult stem cells.
How many diseases have embryonic stem cells affected? Zero.
There are more alternatives to embryonic stem cells available! Stem cells can be taken from umbilical cord blood, skin, hair, and many other sources. Most of these options have as much or more potential for curing diseases than embryonic stem cells themselves, without any of the moral problems. Yet embryonic stem cell researchers insist on pursuing this course of action. With so many other alternatives succeeding, it seems that our time, money and efforts would be better spent on the therapies which are already saving lives.
However, this all really comes down to one thing. Embryonic stem cell research is one of the most controversial issues of our day because of one question: When does life begin? The common answer is: no one knows when human life begins. There are many different theories about when life begins, including at the first heartbeat, and at the first breath. However, today nearly every scientist and doctor holds that life begins at conception. In an article by Dr. Fritz Baumgartner, MD, he said “There is no more pivotal moment in the subsequent growth and development of a human being than when 23 chromosomes of the father join with 23 chromosomes of the mother to form a unique, 46-chromosomed individual who had previously simply not existed.” His wording of this issue is clear, and the rest of his article has scientific evidence to substantiate his point. There is a moment when there was no life, and then there is. That moment is conception. A human embryo is a human life and taking human life for our own benefit is wrong, no matter the circumstance.
So, since research on embryos is by no means our only way of getting stem cells and it is taking human life, we must put an end to this research now. Helpless lives depend on us. Your tax dollars are being spent by our government to fund this destruction of human life. This research has to stop, and together we can make a huge impact in our culture. What can you do? Talk or write to your legislators on state and federal levels and tell them where you stand on this issue; write to the President. One of the most important things you can do is learn more about embryonic stem cell research. Be prepared to defend your position with information beyond that of the average citizen. Don’t stop here. Google the National Right to Life website to receive periodic updates on this issue. Inform people about the facts of stem cell research so that they will not be fooled like so many others. And last, but by no means least, pray. Pray for the leaders of our country. Pray for the ordinary people like you and me to stand up and be a voice in our world for our fellow humans who cannot speak for themselves. God tells us that He knew us in the womb; that He knew all our days before one of them came to be. We are all precious in His sight, no matter our size, age, or appearance.
The experimentation on defenseless Jews by the Nazis was undeniably horrendous. But the killing of tiny, yet living, human beings is accepted by our culture as remarkable progress in science. Though there are alternatives that are not only non-controversial but also immensely more effective, this mass slaughter of human beings is applauded by our country. Please, do not be deceived.
This is an edited version of the persuasive speech I gave during the 2009 NCFCA speech season.