Stem cells are the cells from which all other cells originate. They are very versatile and can replicate indefinitely.
There are two general categories of stem cells: embryonic and adult.
Embryonic Stem Cells
These stem cells are taken from human embryos, killing the human embryo in the process. The embryonic stem cells may be created through cloning or other research methods. The embryos may also be left over from in vitro fertilization. Although many millions of research dollars have been expensed to develop medical therapies and cures from embryonic stem cells, not even one patient has been helped by embryonic stem cells. In fact, the use of embryonic stem cells has resulted in the formation of tumors, immune rejection, and genetic instability. Conversely, the use of adult stem cells have proven to be beneficial in treating more than 70 diseases and conditions.
A human embryo, whether a result of natural fertilization, cloning, or in vitro fertilization is a distinct living and whole (though immature) human organism. Every human person, regardless of size, level of development, or location (such as in a test tube), deserves respect and protection. Each one of us was once an embryo. The human embryo did not consent to being used as raw material for research or any other endeavor.
Adult Stem Cells
Adult stem cells do not destroy innocent human lives. Adult stem cell treatments save lives. Adult stem cells have many sources including umbilical cord blood, placentas, and amniotic fluid. Adult stem cells also come from skin, bone marrow, fat, etc. No harm is done in gathering these cells from donors. Unlike embryonic stem cells, they do not cause tumors or genetic instability or immune rejection. Adult stem cells have successfully treated thousands of human patients with dozens of conditions including diabetes, lupus, arthritis, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, leukemia, Parkinson’s disease, spinal injury, lymphoma, brain cancer, multiple sclerosis, stroke damage, sickle cell anemia, etc.
Researchers can now produce pluripotent stem cells without using human embryos. Scientists genetically reprogram normal cells to have the same desired benefits of embryonic stem cells, but are ethically sound. Induced pluripotent stem cells can come from the patient’s own body. Unlike embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells have no risk of immune rejection.
There is no longer any research justification for the destruction of human embryos. Embryonic stem cell research not only takes an innocent human being, it has been scientifically proven to be ineffective in treating diseases and conditions. Conversely, the use of adult stem cells have proven to be lifesaving and ethical as well.