Third Party & Independents Archives

Understanding The Stem Cell Debate Part II - In-vitro Fertilization

The rancorous debate currently swirling around the use of embryonic stem cells to research cures for some of the world’s most vexing disease’s, is one I cannot seem to disengage myself from. This is partially due to the fact that the fair majority of arguments against this promising research are so morally vapid, and devoid of common sense.

Those who oppose the use of embryos for stem cell research totally disregard the harm In Vitro Fertilization-the process that creates the embryos in the first place-does to unwanted embryos and those that do not take in the uterus and die as part of the process.

How many embryos are killed during the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) process for just one couple trying to conceive a baby? Isn't that the destruction of life? And yet not one Republican lawmaker and very few on the Christian Right have spoken out against the process. Dubya (President Bush) recently had a multitude of "snow-flake" babies (those babies conceived of donated embryos) to the White House for a photo opportunity to demonstrate that frozen embryos can still create life. But missing were the numbers of embryos that were destroyed in the process of creating the cute little snowflakes.

Up to four embryos can be implanted in the uterus during a typical IVF procedure; this is to ensure that at least one attaches itself to the uterine wall and becomes a viable baby. If the other three embryo's do not take, they die. Again isn't this the destruction of life? And aren't couples that engage in IVF destroying life in order to make life? How many embryos does the average couple go through before conceiving a child or children, in the case of multiple births?

According to the CDC-the government agency charged compiling national statistics for all Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) procedures performed in the U.S., IVF only has an average 30.9% success rate. The ART report (from Year 2002) also found that about 69% of the IVF cycles carried out did not produce a pregnancy, and as the age of a woman increases, the chances IVF will work drop dramatically. And that even when IVF was performed on women under the age of 35 the success rate was less then 50%; I invite you to read the report entitled 2002 Assisted Reproductive Technology Rates National Summary and Fertility Clinic Reports.

How many dead embryos do these statistics represent nationwide? And again, where is the outcry from the conservative camp about this brazen-and some might call it cavalier-disregard for human life? Where is the moral outrage from the Christian Right about this abomination; where is the indignation; where is Rick Santorum? Oh the hypocrisy is palatable and tastes oddly bitter, especially to those suffering from chronic diseases (like myself) who might find hope in a cure from research done with embryonic stem cells.

Perhaps it's because I am personally affected by the outcome of embryonic stem cell research that I feel so passionately about the debate. Or perhaps it's because I loath hypocrisy as one of the lowest forms of intellectual laziness, and self-induced ignorance. Or perhaps it’s because I value science over religious dogma (make no mistake this in a debate that springs from the fertile yet misguided minds of the religiously inclined); or perhaps it's a combination of all three reasons and many more I cannot name. But this remains a debate I cannot lay down because it insists on standing up and shouting that this issue stinks of wrong-headed politics and conservative religious doctrine. And we the American people lose once again.

Posted by V. Edward Martin at June 16, 2005 8:55 AM