Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2001


The ability to generate a wide variety of stem cell lines (in relatively renewable tissue cultures) opens up a whole new world of breathtaking possibilities for science and medicine. The possibilities include: "in vitro studies of normal embryo-genesis, human gene discovery, and drug and teratogen testing and as a renewable source of cells for tissue transplantation, cell replacement, and gene therapies." But it also opens up a world of complications.

Human EG and ES cells must be recovered from aborted fetuses or live embryos. Because primordial gonadal tissue is removed from fetuses after their death, the derivation of EO cells from aborted fetuses does not cause their death. There are ethical concerns of complicity in the abortion itself, but these are not discussed here. More important and more relevant for our purposes, obtaining stem cells from human embryos inescapably kills them. As the New York Times put it: "Where some see destruction of life, others see lives being saved."



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