Anti-abortion + Anti-stem cell research = Anti-IVF

By By [email protected]

By [email protected]

Dear Editor:

I would like to respond to the letter from Ms. Hausam concerning Ms. Frost’s recent column on stem cell research in relation to pro-life supporters. In her letter, she argues that the debate surrounding stem cell research should center on the question of “whether the embryo to be destroyed for its stem cells is or is not a human baby”.

I consider this to be a valid question, however, it is promoting a common misconception about embryonic stem cell research. It implies that embryonic stem cell researchers are single-mindedly killing babies in order to harvest their stem cells.

The majority of human stem cell research utilizes unwanted samples of in-vitro fertilization attempts. Couples who choose to undergo IVF create more samples than needed to ensure highest probability of success. IVF has a relatively low success rate (about 20%) at a very high cost (around fifteen thousand dollars a pop). Embryos that are not used are most often stored in a freezer. However, they are only usable for a limited amount of time (approximately two years). Other options couples may take include immediate disposal, putting unused embryos up for adoption, or donating them to scientific research. The last option has been seriously hindered by the actions of our current president.

It is only logical to conclude that if Ms. Hausam, the President, and other “pro-life” advocates are against stem cell research on the basis that it is the destruction of life, they must also be against in-vitro fertilization. For IVF was the original source of embryonic stem cell research subjects. To paraphrase one of my favorite movies, if embryonic stem cells are to be considered “babies”, then the people who knowingly create several “babies” with the intention of abandoning some are committing reckless endangerment.

I wish to make it clear that I am not an opponent of in-vitro fertilization. Then again, I am an overly enthusiastic supporter of embryonic stem cell research so I could hardly be considered an objective opinion.

However, if we are to question the ethics of obtaining embryonic stem cells from (unwanted) embryos, shouldn’t we question the ethics regarding the source of the embryos (the act of creating several embryos in hopes of having success with the implantation of one)?

Respectfully,Teresa J. TuanUndergraduate Student (Junior) in Biological ChemistryUniversity of Utah