The Stem Cell Debate
One thing you never hear the media talking about is the cloning aspect of embryonic stem cell research. The use for stem cells makes logical sense. The idea behind the potential of stem cell research is that you will be able to take stem cells and regrow your own tissue right in your body. This seems like an awesome and amazing technology. We could regrow our own organs or severed nerves! However, what is often left out is that you may need to have your own embryonic stem cells to grow your own tissue, which means creating an embryo clone of yourself.
I have heard some creepy responses to this aspect of stem cell research. For example, I heard one person say that we would not need to clone embryos right away... however when the time comes that cures are discovered and cloning is required, people will be able to decide for themselves whether or not they want to clone their own embryos. However cloning your own embryo requires the growth of an independent embryo and then replacing that embryo's DNA with your own DNA. That is unless we find a way to grow embryos without any DNA.
A great example of how misleading the cloning issue is can be seen in the 2006 ballot measure in Missouri that purports to put restrictions on Stem Cell Research. Clause 2 of the ballot says the following:
(1) No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being.
It seems pretty straight forward. It is the same statement that is listed on the "plain language explanation" provided in the voting booth. The ballot measure was initially sponsored by research institutions so one wonders why researchers would want to ban cloning since cloning will ultimately be required for embryonic stem cell therapy.
However if you read farther down the text in the ballot measure you find where Cloning is defined:
(2) “Clone or attempt to clone a human being” means to implant in a uterus or attempt to implant in a uterus anything other than the product of fertilization of an egg of a human female by a sperm of a human male for the purpose of initiating a pregnancy that could result in the creation of a human fetus, or the birth of a human being. (emphasis mine)So there it is. You can clone an embryo as long as you don't implant the embryo into a uterus. The people in Missouri will be voting for cloning when they think they are voting against it.
It seems very creepy to create an embyro that has its own characteristics and then destroy it for the purposes of creating a cloned embryo of yourself. At the very least it would be nice if people told the truth about the research and told people what they are really voting for.