American Medical Association's "Narrow Definitions", Legal "Redefinitions" ... and Reproductive Cloning

Dianne N. Irving
© October 2009
Reproduced with Permission

"If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth, only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair." -C. S. Lewis

"Nature never deceives us; it is we who deceive ourselves." -Rousseau, Emile (1762)

I. Introduction:

It is no shocking news that many physicians and researchers have been purposefully "doctoring" the real objective scientific facts of human embryology and related sciences for decades now in order to achieve their various goals. Perhaps it is done to "justify" human and fetal research, human embryonic stem cell research, human cloning research, OAR, ANT, iPS and similar cell "reprogramming" research, "regenerative medicine", or patient "therapies", etc. Perhaps it is done to "justify" the use of abortifacients, prenatal genetic diagnosis, the production of vaccines, abortion and related medical issues, etc. Whatever their reasons, it is clear that no one, and no professional organization, intends to admit the truth about what they are doing. At this point, the only rational thing to do is to sit back and watch the latest funny show.

Particularly amusing, at this stage in the decades-long "debate", is the recent performance of the American Medical Association's official endorsement of the use of "pre-embryo splitting" for infertility treatments.1 Now, certainly everyone knows by this time that there is no such thing as a "pre-embryo", so why is the AMA continuing to use that fake scientific term? And what exactly is "splitting"? It couldn't possibly involve "reproductive cloning" -- could it? Horrors! Unfortunately, the AMA's latest official report appears to be rather opaque on both "pre-embryos" and on "splitting".

This is unfortunate. Aside from the serious ethical issues of artificial reproductive technologies in general, not to mention the serious ethical issue of the destruction of living human embryos used in this and related research, isn't a woman legally entitled to be provided with the truth, all the facts, including the accurate scientific facts, of such infertility treatments before giving her legally valid "informed consent"? Isn't that her choice? Or are informed consent forms just supposed to be rather "selective" with their "information", and leave out all that messy "science"?

But with all the "fudging" of critical scientific facts, how can a woman really be certain of exactly what is being implanted into her womb, and therefore exercise her choice? Is it "just a bunch of cells", just a "pre-embryo", maybe a frog? And how did it get here - by "fertilization", or genetic engineering, or maybe magic? If it is "genetic engineering", shouldn't they call this "therapeutic research" in "reproductive genetic engineering" rather than just infertility "treatments"? If this is really research, rather than standard medical treatment, then how are these IVF and ART facilities conforming to the international ethical imperatives such as the Nuremberg Code, the Declaration of Helsinki, etc.?2 To whom are they accountable? Where's the regulation of such medical procedures? ....... Well, lots of dumb questions.

Besides, if the good doctors at the American Medical Association tell me that what they are implanting in my body is just a "pre-embryo", and that it was simply reproduced by just a silly kind of "splitting", then why shouldn't I trust and believe them? And besides, they assure me that it definitely isn't "reproductive cloning". Wishful thinking?

How comforting.

II. The AMA's "Pre-embryos", "Pre-embryo stages", and "cloning"

Since 1994 the American Medical Association has formally endorsed a-sexual human reproductive techniques (e.g., human reproduction without the immediate use of sperm and oocyte) for use as "infertility treatments" in in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other artificial reproductive technique (ART) facilities.3 Such endorsements include "pre-embryo splitting" (also known as "twinning", "blastomere separation", "blastocyst splitting", "embryo multiplication", etc.). Apparently, many bioethicists4 see no ethical problems, and infertility specialists are ready, willing and able to use such a-sexual reproductive techniques in reproductive cloning and 'related techniques" for their patients:

ART practitioners were surveyed concerning their views on human reproductive cloning and related techniques. A few had considered using or had used embryo splitting or germ cell nuclear transfer. Although they expressed some concerns about the present risk of reproductive cloning, most indicated that it did not violate their religious beliefs. More than three-quarters of ART practitioners responding indicated that they would be willing to provide human reproductive cloning in indicated cases if it were legally permissible to do so. A significant percentage of the group also indicated that they currently have the ability to provide this service.5 (emphasis added)

Note the language here of "or had used" - really? Where have they used these reproductive cloning techniques, and on whom, etc.?

Again, this year (2009) the AMA continues its formal support for "pre-embryo splitting" in their recent "Opinion 2.145", which states in part:

The technique of splitting in vitro fertilized pre-embryos may result in multiple genetically identical siblings. The procedure of pre-embryo splitting should be available so long as both gamete providers agree. This procedure may greatly increase the chances of conception for an infertile couple or for a couple whose future reproductive capacity will likely be diminished. Pre-embryo splitting also can reduce the number of invasive procedures necessary for egg retrieval and the necessity for hormonal stimulants to generate multiple eggs. The use and disposition of any pre-embryos that are frozen for future use should be consistent with the Council's opinion on frozen pre-embryos (Opinion 2.141, "Frozen Pre-embryos"). ... To the extent possible, discussion of these issues should be had with gamete providers prior to pre-embryo splitting and freezing so as to inform the prospective parents of possible future ethical dilemmas. (I, III, IV, V)6 (emphasis added)

What immediately stands out is the AMA's profuse use of the long-rejected term "pre-embryo".7 Why would a prestigious medical organization such as the AMA continue to currently mis-inform and thus mislead the public, and especially "gamete providers", by using such a scientifically erroneous term that has been proven false for so long?

The term "pre-embryo" was officially rejected years ago by the Nomina Embryologica Committee (the international nomenclature committee on human embryology), and rejected in prominent human embryology textbooks, e.g., those of Swiss scientists Ronan O'Reilly and Fabiola Muller:

The term 'pre-embryo' is not used here for the following reasons: (1) it is ill-defined because it is said to end with the appearance of the primitive streak or to include neurulation; (2) it is inaccurate because purely embryonic cells can already be distinguished after a few days, as can also the embryonic (not pre-embryonic!) disc; (3) it is unjustified because the accepted meaning of the word embryo includes all of the first 8 weeks; (4) it is equivocal because it may convey the erroneous idea that a new human organism is formed at only some considerable time after fertilization; and (5) it was introduced in 1986 'largely for public policy reasons' (Biggers)." ... Just as postnatal age begins at birth, prenatal age begins at fertilization." (p. 88) ... "Undesirable terms in Human Embryology": "Pre-embryo"; ill-defined and inaccurate; use "embryo."8 (emphasis added)

As Dr. C. Ward Kischer, Emeritus Professor of Anatomy and Specialist in Human Embryology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, has argued for decades now, "The term 'preembryo' is a fraudulent term and is not certified by any human embryologist. ... There is no bona fide contemporary textbook of Human Embryology which uses this term."9 Even Lee Silver, not known for his conservative views on these issues, notes the purposeful deceit inherent in the use of the term "pre-embryo":

I'll let you in on a little secret. The term pre-embryo has been embraced wholeheartedly by IVF practitioners for reasons that are political, not scientific.... The term pre-embryo is useful in the political arena where decisions are made about whether to allow early embryo (now called pre-embryo) experimentation as well as in the confines of a doctor's office where it can be used to allay moral concerns that might be expressed by IVF patients.10 (emphasis added)

Ahhh - IVF patients might have "moral concerns" if they were told the truth? Now why is that, I wonder? I presume that physicians and researchers would have no such moral qualms.

The AMA does attempt to justify their use of the false term "pre-embryo" in their background 1994 Report on "Pre-Embryo Splitting" with the following amazing claim:

The term "pre-embryo" is used in this discussion because it most accurately describes the stage of development at which splitting can occur. The pre-embryonic stage lasts approximately 14-days after the initial penetration of the ovum by a sperm. The pre-embryonic stage ends when the primitive streak first appears, signaling the point at which only a single biological individual may result.

Perhaps the AMA isn't up to date, but not only is there no such thing as a "pre-embryo", there is no such "stage" in early human embryonic development as a "pre-embryo stage". Rather, what you are witnessing is a major effort to linguistically make the early human embryo disappear. In Dr. Kischer's words:

This arbitrary period of human development, preembryo, was conceived and has been promoted without the sanction or sponsorship of a single human embryologist. ... The so-called preembryo is a false stage (period) of human development invented by an amphibian embryologist for political reasons, only. It has no credible scientific justification. Thus, the inclusion of this term into the language of Human Embryology has become a hoax of gigantic proportion.11 (emphasis added)

Perhaps the AMA and its infertility specialists couldn't care less what to call the earliest human embryo - human being -- or what they do with it, as long as the term gets them what they want. But wouldn't you think that at least some women would want to know the facts, all the facts, including the accurate scientific facts -- and then, and then only, make a choice as to whether or not to use such "infertility treatments"? By definition (excuse the pun), this choice has been taken away from them.

III. The Accurate Science

In the real world, the sexually reproduced human embryo really begins to exist at the beginning of the process of fertilization, when the sperm makes first contact with the oocyte. The science that establishes this is not new. For example, back in the mid-1880's Wilhelm His' documentation that the immediate product of human sexual reproduction is a new human being, a new single-cell human organism was scientifically acknowledged worldwide.12 Similarly, since 1942 the Carnegie Stages of Early Human Embryonic Development have internationally acknowledged, documented and continuously affirmed the same thing, even categorizing the growth and development of the early human embryo during the first 8 weeks of development into proper and technically articulated "embryonic stages". Note that these internationally accepted stages never mention such a stage as a "pre-embryo" or the "pre-embryo stage" at all; nor are there any academically credentialed Ph.D. human embryologists who would acknowledge such nonsense either.

Rather, the Carnegie Stage One documents that a sexually reproduced human being, a new human embryo, begins to exist at the beginning of the process of fertilization, when the sperm makes first contact with the oocyte - not at 14-days post-fertilization (and not at the end of the process of fertilization with the formation of the zygote):

Embryonic life commences with fertilization, and hence the beginning of that process may be taken as the point de depart of stage 1. Despite the small size (ca. 0.1 mm) and weight (ca. 0.004 mg) of the organism at fertilization, the embryo is "schon ein individual-spezifischer Mensch" (Blechschmidt, 1972). ... Fertilization is the procession of events that begins when a spermatozoon makes contact with an oocyte or its investments and ends with the intermingling of maternal and paternal chromosomes at metaphase of the first mitotic division of the zygote (Brackett et al., 1972). Fertilization sensu stricto involves the union of developmentally competent gametes realized in an appropriate environment to result in the formation of a viable embryo (Tesarik, 1986) ... . Fertilization requires probably slightly longer than 24 hours in primates (Brackett et al., 1972). In the case of human oocytes fertilized in vitro, pronuclei were formed within 11 hours of insemination (Edwards, 1972). ... Fertilization, which takes place normally in the ampulla of the uterine tube, includes (a) contact of spermatozoa with the zona pellucida of an oocyte, penetration of one or more spermatozoa through the zona pellucida and the ooplasm, swelling of the spermatozoal head and extrusion of the second polar body, (b) the formation of the male and female pronuclei, and (c) the beginning of the first mitotic division, or cleavage, of the zygote. ... The three phases (a, b, and c) referred to above will be included here under stage 1, the characteristic feature of which is unicellularity. ... (c) Zygote: The cell that characterizes the last phase of fertilization is elusive. The first cleavage spindle forms rapidly and has been used in identification. ... Pronuclear fusion does not occur. Rather, the two pronuclear envelopes break down (post-apposition envelope vesiculation," (Szabo and O'Day, 1983), and the two groups of chromosomes move together and assume positions on the first cleavage spindle. Thus the zygote lacks a nucleus. ... In the human, the initial cleavage that heralds the onset of stage 2 occurs in the uterine tube "some time between twenty-four and thirty hours after [the beginning of] fertilization" (Hertig, 1968).13 (emphasis added)

Yet, despite the fact that there is no such thing as a "pre-embryo", and no such thing as a "pre-embryonic stage", the AMA formal Report goes on to describe various "pre-embryo multiplication" procedures such as "pre-embryo splitting" and "cloning":

The first two techniques involve the procedure of "splitting" or "twinning" embryos. "Blastomere separation" involves the division of a four-cell or eight-cell pre-embryo into the individual totipotent cells (blastomeres), or groups of such cells, which comprise it. A two-cell pre-embryo can be divided into two blastomeres, a four-cell pre-embryo into four blastomeres and an eight-cell pre-embryo into eight blastomeres.

... The splitting of blastocysts (multi-layered pre-embryos at the last stage before implantation) is referred to as "embryo splitting". In this technique, a blastocyst is bisected into two multicellular groups of non-totipotent cells, each of which is nurtured to encourage further development. Since cattle blastocysts can be easily obtained by uterine flushing, embryo splitting is the preferred means of embryo multiplication in the cattle industry.

... Nuclear transplantation, the most technically advanced form of embryo multiplication, involves the transfer of the nuclear material of a cell of the pre-embryo to an unfertilized oocyte which has its maternal chromosomes removed. For example, in one such nuclear transfer technique, a blastomere is extracted from a pre-embryo and transferred to an enucleated recipient oocyte. The blastomere-oocyte complex is then chemically treated to induce fusion, generating a cloned pre-embryo which may undergo further development.14 (emphasis added)

So, according to the AMA, the techniques of "pre-embryo splitting" or "twinning" ("blastomere separation" and "blastocyst splitting") and "blastomere nuclear transplantation" are acceptable "infertility treatments". (One wonders why they don't use the notation of "pre-blastomere separation" and "pre-blastocyst splitting" - just to be more consistent). But what is even stranger is the claim that "pre-embryo splitting" is not a "cloning" technique. As stated in the 1994 Report:

The term "splitting" is preferred over "cloning" for several reasons. The term cloning is typically used popularly to refer to the technologically infeasible technique of taking a single cell from a human already born or from a deceased person and using it to reproduce a genetically identical human being. In addition, when used to refer to existing methods for amplifying pre-embryos, the term cloning covers several different techniques of embryo multiplication.15 (emphasis added)

Thus the AMA's "justification" that "pre-embryo splitting" is not cloning seems to be that (1) "nuclear transplantation" is not yet "feasible", and (2) the term "cloning" covers more than one technique of "embryo multiplication". I'm looking hard - but I don't see the connections. In fact, this is no "justification" at all, but rather pure obfuscation. Well, at least they admit that there is more than one cloning technique.

But since "cloning" is defined as the duplication of genetically identical cells and organisms, and if "pre-embryo splitting" results in the duplication of genetically identical cells and organisms, then "pre-embryo splitting" is, indeed, a form of cloning. This fact has been recognized around the world, and for a very, very long time now,16 and actually mimics in vitro the natural process of human monozygotic identical twinning within a woman's body (in vivo).17 "Pre-embryo splitting" is what it is -- and what it is is "cloning". Besides, regardless of the label used, what is at stake with the use of such "narrow definitions" and manipulated language is the certain destruction of new living human embryos, the high risk of damage to already infertile women, and the impossibility of either "gamete donors" or women giving legally valid "informed consent". Such linguistic manipulations are clearly unethical, if not unprofessional, and should be illegal as well.

Given all of this, one has to wonder why the American Medical Association, one of the most prestigious medical organizations in the world, continues to use such nonsense "language" like "pre-embryo splitting" and "pre-embryo stage" -- and even deny that "pre-embryo splitting" is a form of reproductive cloning?

III. "Narrow Definitions" and Reproductive Cloning

Perhaps the following words of wisdom of a well-established and widely published IVF/ART "infertility" expert could shed some much-needed light on the AMA's obvious obfuscations. According to Dr. Jamie Grifo, a leading infertility researcher at New York University:

Infertility researchers take pains to define cloning in the narrowest terms, as a process that would use the nucleus from a single mature cell and place it in a woman's egg from which the nucleus had been removed - then jolting that hybrid cell to life with electricity. No sperm need be involved, so the baby's genetic material would all come from just one person. ... A number of infertility programs across the country are working on treatments that might be called 'near-cloning'.18 (emphasis added)

Thus, the well-designed strategy is and has been to "define cloning in the narrowest terms", to simply call "cloning" something else, give it a different name, make it up, do whatever one has to do to hide the reality -- and no one will notice what is really going on. That way no one can object. In fact, even if one wanted to find out, they probably wouldn't have the correct "key words" (aka, false scientific terms) in order to do a search on PubMed or other search engines. (Note how very carefully those research studies are written).

Just as stem cell researchers, e.g., Irving Weissman, Michael West et al simply redefine some "therapeutic" nuclear transfer cloning as just "stem cell research",19 many infertility researchers redefine reproductive human cloning techniques as just "infertility treatments" involving only "near-cloning" - and "pre-embryo splitting", etc. They are very careful not to call it what it really is: reproductive cloning -- or reproductive genetic engineering.

Despite strong denials to the contrary (to the press), what we are clearly talking about here is "reproductive cloning" - the use of a-sexual methods of human reproduction as "infertility treatments, where experimental a-sexually reproduced human embryos, who are genetically identical, are implanted into women's wombs. Indeed, "twinning" is the most perfect form of cloning used to reproduce human monozygotic identical twins:

The term 'clones' indicates genetic identity and so can describe genetically identical molecules (DNA clones), genetically identical cells or genetically identical organisms. Animal clones occur naturally ... . For example, genetically identical twins are clones who happened to have received exactly the same set of genetic instructions from two donor individuals, a mother and a father. A form of animal cloning can also occur as a result of artificial manipulation to bring about a type of asexual reproduction. The genetic manipulation in this case uses nuclear transfer technology: a nucleus is removed from a donor cell then transplanted into an oocyte whose own nucleus has previously been removed. The resulting 'renucleated' oocyte can give rise to an individual who will carry the nuclear genome of only one donor individual, unlike genetically identical twins. The individual providing the donor nucleus and the individual that develops from the 'renucleated' oocyte are usually described as "clones", but it should be noted that they share only the same nuclear DNA; they do not share the same mitochondrial DNA, unlike genetically identical twins. ... Nuclear transfer technology was first employed in embryo cloning, in which the donor cell is derived from an early embryo, and has been long established in the case of amphibia. ... Wilmut et al (1997) reported successful cloning of an adult sheep. For the first time, an adult nucleus had been reprogrammed to become totipotent once more, just like the genetic material in the fertilized oocyte from which the donor cell had ultimately developed. ... Successful cloning of adult animals has forced us to accept that genome modifications once considered irreversible can be reversed and that the genomes of adult cells can be reprogrammed by factors in the oocyte to make them totipotent once again.20 (emphasis added)

That is, while the cloning technique of "nuclear transfer" results in a cloned embryo containing "foreign" genes from the oocyte's mitochondria, the cloning technique of "twinning" results in a cloned embryo whose nuclear and mitochondrial genetic material is as close to that of the original embryo as possible.

Although the accurate science has been available for many decades to anyone who wants to know the truth, a veritable plethora of false scientific terminology concerning the early human embryo and its manipulation has been proliferating exponentially throughout many professional organizations and even national bodies for years.21 The entire medical and scientific enterprises are rapidly losing their credibility.

But not to fear. Any physical, legal, ethical or social disasters that could result from this "great deception" would fortunately be foreclosed by a total ban on human cloning - such as the current Stupak cloning "ban" - right? That's comforting.

III. "Narrow Definitions" and the current Stupak-Wamp Human Cloning "Ban"

The new Stupak-Wamp human cloning "ban" currently sits in a U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security (interestingly enough).22 An identical bill, H.R. 110 sponsored by Rep. Fortenberry also awaits consideration. Both bills are almost carbon copies of the failed Weldon/Brownback total human cloning "bans" attempted in 2001 that were replete with legal loopholes forged by "narrow definitions", the effect of which would have been to allow all human cloning to proceed - including the use of the somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) cloning technique itself.23

All of these "total human cloning bans" scientifically mis-define cloning "narrowly" as only somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) cloning technique, including the current Stupak-Wamp bill:

(1) HUMAN CLONING- The term 'human cloning' means human asexual reproduction, accomplished by introducing the nuclear material of a human somatic cell into a fertilized or unfertilized oocyte whose nucleus has been removed or inactivated to produce a living organism (at any stage of development) with a human or predominantly human genetic constitution.24 (emphasis added)

The fact is, as already noted, that there are actually many different kinds of human cloning techniques; SCNT as described here is only one of them. Indeed, it is only one kind of SCNT cloning techniques. And a quick search in scientific journals using PubMed or Medline will document that SCNT is hardly "the most common" cloning technique used or desired by researchers these days. As noted earlier in this article, many other human cloning techniques are now more "interesting" to researchers, e.g., twinning, germ line cell nuclear transfer (GLCNT), pronuclei transfer, mitochondria transfer, parthenogenesis, "hemi-cloning", the use of "artificially constructed" sperm, oocytes and embryos, "egg reconstruction", the use of iPS cells -- to name just a few.25 Since the courts will usually interpret such legal language as "exclusionary", the result of this "narrow definition" of "human cloning" in the Stupak-Wamp bill is that all other forms of human cloning would still be allowed -- including other forms of SCNT cloning.

Note as well that the definition of "cloning" in the Stupak-Wamp cloning bill as "introducing the nuclear material of a human somatic cell into a fertilized or unfertilized oocyte ..." is very different from the definition of "cloning" in the AMA's position on "nuclear transplantation" discussed above, i.e., the transfer of the nuclear material of a cell of the pre-embryo to an unfertilized oocyte. Clearly, even the type of "infertility treatment" described by the AMA as "nuclear transplantation" would not be covered by this human cloning "ban" - nor would "twinning", "blastomere separation", "blastocyst splitting", "embryo multiplication", "germ line cell nuclear transfer" (GLCNT) -- or any of the other kinds of reproductive cloning -- or reproductive genetic engineering. It is often said by some that at least the Stupak-Wamp cloning "ban" will "save some of the babies". Some? Wishful thinking.

This also means that "reproductive cloning" - by any name you wish to call it - will have the blessings of both the AMA and the U.S. Congress.

It would also seem that the courts are moving quickly to adopt similar linguistic machinations. In Spain, there is a legal push to redefine the early human embryo as "just a group of cells":

The possibility of cloning human beings introduced a lot of issues in our ethical and legal frameworks. In this paper, we will put the focus into the necessary changes in the concept of embryo that our legal systems will have to implement in order to face the new situation. The description of the embryo as a group of cells able to develop into a human being will be defended here as the best way of doing so.26

"A group of cells"? "Able to develop into a human being"? Where have we heard this false science before - oh, yes, remember the false scientific claims of stem cell researchers Irving Weissman and Michael West?27 Both have argued before courts and testified before Congress as "experts" that the immediate product of both sexual and a-sexual human reproduction is "just a bunch of cells", that "therapeutic" cloning is just "stem cell research", and that "reproductive cloning" is cloning - but only once the a-sexually reproduced child is born! And they continue to get away with it.

Indeed, even the legal profession here in the U.S. is taking up the game. Anne Kiessling's very lengthy article, "What is an embryo?", in the Connecticut Law Review is an incredible attempt to literally deconstruct the entire field of human embryology. As just an example:

Given that society's view is vastly more generous than nature's view, the task before us is to come to a new view of the concept of "embryo". (p. 1044) ... The new view must incorporate both the wonder and respect deserved by the process that unites sperm and egg, with the recent advances in harnessing the power of the egg to create replacement cells with the potential to alleviate multiple human sufferings. (pg. 1066) ... For most of the centuries after the advent of the microscope in the mind-1600's, the term "embryo" was applied to that period of early development before the conceptus took on the appearance of its species. For the human, this is sometime after implantation and before all the organs appear. Human medical embryology texts still refer to the first two weeks after fertilization as the "ovum period". Therefore, strictly speaking, the term "embryo" defines the human conceptus during the rapid growth period after implantation, when the embryonic disk has become distinct from trophoblast. Accordingly, applying the term embryo to any stage of development before the inner cell mass forms is inaccurate. (p. 1088) ... The appearance of an inner cell mass is a minimal requirement for embryo status. Implantation and the development of an embryonic disk is a more accurate requirement for embryo status. (p. 1089) ... "Zygote" is a term that has been widely used to designate development before the blastocyst stage. ... [T]he term "zygote" clarifies that the early stages are not yet embryos.28 (p. 1088). (emphasis added)

Kiessling goes on to redefine the terms "sperm", "egg", "fertilization", "cleavage", "morula", "blastocyst", "implantation", "totipotent" and "pluripotent" cells, "assisted reproductive technologies", "nuclear transplants", "parthenogenesis", etc. She accomplishes this by quite selectively dragging the reader through countless decades, even centuries, of the kind of pre-historic "science" used in the Dark Ages, laments that "scientists" haven't been much help, and then turns to society, law and public opinion to rebuild a "new" science of human embryology - one that would be more amenable, of course, to stem cell and cloning researchers, infertility experts and the like. Yet none of these "sources" have any background or academic credentials in the science of human embryology! So our laws and regulations are to be built on such a house of cards? Such arrogance is beyond funny -- almost.

Interestingly, a very similar and much earlier article also entitled, "What is an embryo?", was written by famous infertility expert, Howard Jones.29 It too was replete with the term "pre-embryo", etc. Dr. C. Ward Kischer responded back then that the article was "an outrageous affront to the science of Human Embryology". It is worth listening to him:

Jones manipulates and parses the language of this science into a very strange entanglement of meaning. This is the Jones who organized The Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Norfolk, Virginia. Their current aim is to support therapeutic cloning of human embryos in order to acquire "stem cells".

... Jones does not cite a single source from Human Embryology to back up his claims. This is in concert with the corruption of Human Embryology which has been taking place for the past 30 years. The Journal of Fertility & Sterility has been instrumental in the revision of the facts concerning Human Embryology. This is manifest by their embracing the false term "pre-embryo" invented by Clifford Grobstein in 1979, the endorsement of this term by the Ethics Committee of Fertility and Sterility in 1986, of which Grobstein was a member, and its use by Jones in his present editorial. NO human embryologist endorses or uses this discredited and fraudulent term, and it is not to be found in a single textbook of Human Embryology. In fact, the Nomenclature Committee of the American Association of Anatomists recently rejected the terms: "pre-embryo," "preembryonic" and "individuation" for inclusion in Terminologia Embryologica, the official lexicon of scientific terminology.

... Jones infers that prior to implantation an embryo does not exist; and, he cites a medical dictionary source for support. The inference is that pregnancy does not occur prior to implantation, and this canard has often been repeated by revisionists. The important information is what human embryologists say. Carlson in his text of Human Embryology and Developmental Biology [1994] states in his opening sentence: "Human pregnancy [in natural sexual reproduction] begins with the fusion of sperm and egg." This is because the concern of Human Embryology is the embryo and its development no matter where it is. Prior to implantation the embryo is developing in the fallopian tubes, ectopically, or even in a Petri dish. This is what medical students have always been taught. Is Jones now saying that what we have been teaching, at least for half a century, is now wrong? There are so many errors in Jones' treatise it would take extensive discussion to correct them. He justifies using the much vaunted (so-called) "stem cells" from early embryos by claiming they are obtained from a "non-person," the "pre-embryo"! Tell me this is not an arbitrary judgment. It certainly is not science. 30

In sum, apparently professional medical, scientific, and infertility organizations, as well as professional legal and bioethics organizations, couldn't care less about the objective scientific truth - or apparently the consequences. This "Great Deception" is one of those necessary - if ugly - facts of life. "And after all," as one IVF specialist said to me, "it seems to bring such great comfort to so many people." Indeed, she said excitedly, wait till you hear about the latest "infertility treatments"!

IV. The Use of Human Embryonic and iPS Cells as "Infertility Treatments"

Indeed, IVF and ART clinics are very excited by the new iPS research, since iPS cells have now been proven to be reprogrammed to make human sperm and oocytes:

Researchers in California for the first time have reprogrammed human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into germ cells that eventually become eggs and sperm, possibly opening the door for new treatments for infertility using patient-specific cells. The iPS cells were coaxed into forming germ line precursor cells that include genetic material that may be passed on to a child.31

Even the leaders of the infertility industry are excited. As Wilmut stated in a recent interview:

[A]s far as treatment for infertility is concerned, the odds are that there would be other ways of overcoming the problem. If IVF cells [iPS cells] are equivalent in their developmental potential to embryo-derived stem cells, then it might be possible to produce gametes. So if you have, let's say, a man who has no sperm, you produce iPS cells, you produce sperm, and you can then produce babies through IVF.32 (emphasis added)

Note the use of this fascinating new term "IVF cells"! Wow, how imaginative! That's a new one - although one has to ask what kind of organism this IVF cell belongs to!

Similarly, Davor Solter, a developmental biologist at the Institute of Medical Biology in Singapore, remarks:

I think IVF has gone about as far as it can. Next I expect that germ cells - sperm and eggs - will be derived from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells [cells that have the potential to develop into any of the body's cell types]. It will be possible to make iPS cells from skin cells, to make germ cells from these, and then combine them to make human embryos.33 (emphasis added)

And not to be out-excited, as Zev Rosenwaks, director of the Centre for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility in New York, puts it, "infertility is history":

I see the technology going towards possible eradication of infertility altogether. With nuclear-transfer technology or cell modification, I think we'll be able to generate sperm and eggs for anybody.34 (emphasis added)

I can see that there is soon going to be a whole lot of contentment out there.

V. Conclusions

Make up your own.

Next Page: Endnotes
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