Pennsylvania Researchers Turn Stem Cells to Egg Cells
Comments by Dr. Dianne N. Irving, M.A., Ph.D.

article comments Irving
Dianne N. Irving, M.A., Ph.D.
copyright May 3, 2003
Reproduced with Permission

[Comment: If nothing else, this research has exposed not only the fake science that has been flooding the free (libertine) market place on these issues for years now, but also the fake dissident "Catholicism" (on both the right and on the left) that has always accompanied it, as well as the fake cloning "bans" currently being propagated on all sides of the political aisle -- and so successfully perpetrated through the Hallowed Halls of Bioethics and of Congress. The latest application of this fraud as revealed in this New York Times article represents the "joyous" revisiting of Humanae Vitae. A nice package.

Continued ignorance of, or the acquiescence in and approval of, these frauds will eventually result in the establishment of: (1) a permanent bank of living human embryos world-wide for any and all types of pure destructive human embryo research; (2) a constant source of human embryonic biological "materials" to advance eugenics; (3) the appropriation of these issues by the same dissident Catholic theologians (on the right and on the left) who have historically and directly (and knowingly) used fake science about the early developing human embryo as a favorite means of bashing Humanae Vitae; (4) the tenets of international bioethics that define a human "person" only in terms of the active exercising of "rational attributes" and "sentience" (which would eliminate even all adult mentally and physically disabled human beings from "personhood"). These fake scientific, theological and bioethical "ethical" tenets will then be (5) concretized into local, state, federal, and world-wide legislations that purport to be "total bans" on such "fundamentally offensive" activities in order to assuage the concerns and consciences of the public.

For those who are interested Catholics, there is one more major consequence of not stepping up to the plate on these issues: the gradual dissolution of the Catholic Church Herself. Why? What could possibly be the connection? Consider the following: If the scientific definition of "a human being and when he/she begins to exist" is scientifically fake, then the definition of "a human person and when he/she begins to exist" is fake. If the definition of "a human person and when he/she begins to exist" is fake, then that erroneous definition of "a human person" can be (and already has been) transferred to virtually every other issue in bioethics and applied to adult human beings (e.g., euthanasia, physician assisted suicide, removal of food and hydration, the use of abortifacients and early abortions, etc.). If the definition of "a human person and when he/she begins to exist" is fake, then the empirically derived definition of "human nature" (which is the basis of philosophical natural law theory) is also fake. If the definition of "human nature" is fake, then philosophical natural law theory is also fake. If philosophical natural law theory is fake, then the Moral Law is fake. If the Moral Law is fake, then the Church's teachings based on the Moral Law are fake. If the Church's teachings are fake, then the moral teaching authority of the Church is invalid. Like dominoes.

As usual, there are so many errors and "artifacts" in this article that the only way to approach it is to try to correct it while going through the article paragraph by paragraph. The blockquote comments following each portion of article are mine. Hopefully these brief opinions will be of some small help to those who are interested. There is also a link to my fully quoted scientific references to document my comments below. For my published articles on this and on the "personhood" issues, they are accessible on [], and on the University Faculty for Life web site []. -- DNI]
New York Times, May 2, 2003

Pennsylvania Researchers Turn Stem Cells to Egg Cells

By Nicholas Wade

"Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have taken stem cell research in a novel direction, showing how the cells can be converted in the laboratory into egg cells like those produced in the ovary. The work has some theologians reconsidering their ideas about the nature of life."

[[Note that the theologian who is interviewed for this article (Thomas Shannon) is also one of the Founders of Bioethics (1978), a strong and energetic supporter for decades of abortion and of the fake "pre-embryo" of McCormick and Grobstein, and one of the most influential American dissident theologians who has opposed Humanae Vitae since 1968.]]

"Use of such eggs might make therapeutic cloning -- the idea of repairing patients' tissues by cloning their own body cells -- ethically more acceptable to those who object to it. Further, the unfertilized eggs seem capable of developing parthenogenetically, or without the help of sperm, into embryos."

[[Scientifically bizarre statement. This research does not involve parthenogenesis at all. It involves the "twinning" or cloning of the primitive germ line cells -- which are diploid, and which are totipotent. Similar to the production of monozygotic twins, once these totipotent primitive germ line cells are separated from the whole intact embryo, they can possibly undergo regulation (and other related biological processes) to revert to new whole human embryos. Some of these primitive germ line cells are obviously already differentiated by minimal parental imprinting and are now only pluripotent, and thus only develop into "ovaries" and similar tissues.]]

"The research was by a team from Penn including Dr. Karin Hübner, Dr. Hans R. Schöler, and researchers elsewhere. They report in today's issue of Science that they developed a way to generate unfertilized eggs, known as oocytes, from mouse embryonic stem cells. They have not tried the same experiment with human embryonic stem cells, but the two species are generally very similar at the stem cell level."

[[A classic taboo in bench research is to invalidly extrapolate the data from one species to a different species without empirical verification. There are many significant differences between the early embryonic development of mice and of human beings. Whether or not they succeed in reproducing this experiment with human primitive germ line cells is ethically irrelevant. What is ethically relevant is that in the process of trying, they will necessarily kill untold numbers of innocent living human beings.]]

"If human oocytes could be generated in the same way from human embryonic stem cells, researchers would have a copious new source of oocytes, which are now obtained from patients through an uncomfortable procedure requiring strong drugs and surgery."

[[Researchers would also have a copious new source of living human embryos for destructive research purposes, since those primitive germ line cells that are still totipotent could possibly revert to new living human embryos, as this research indicates. And given the monumental scientific ruse these advocates for human embryo research and human cloning have propagated for decades, just how accurately and fully "informed" about the real human embryology and human molecular genetics are patients when they sign their "informed consent" forms?]]

"Dr. Schöler, a German citizen, said he was discussing with German parliamentarians whether generating human egg cells this way would be acceptable in Germany. If not, he said he would not undertake the experiment in his laboratory in the United States, even if it were legal here.

"Dr. James Battey, chairman of a stem cell task force at the National Institutes of Health, said that researchers supported by the institutes should not undertake such experiments until there had been further ethical review and opinion sounding. He described the research as "a spectacular piece of science."

[[The use of erroneous and misleading "science" in the NIH's own "Stem Cell Research Guidelines" as well as on its web site for "Stem Cell Research Facts", it's historical insistence on the use of the term "pre-embryo" (or its substitutes) in all of its conferences to support a "reduced moral status" for the early human embryo so that it could be used in destructive research, and the blatantly erroneous science in the formal testimony of its former-Director Harold Varmus before the U.S. Senate bodes badly for the NIH's continued involvement in these related issues. They will simply put together their own "bioethics" panel to support their own agenda (as the chairman of the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel admitted) and proffer their own "opinions" based on fake science and "federal ethics" (aka, bioethics).]]

"Human embryonic stem cells are obtained from the discarded human embryos generated in fertility clinics. The embryos, though only a few days past fertilization, are destroyed in the process. As a result, many opponents of abortion rights object to research that involves the cells. In August 2001, President Bush allowed federally financed researchers to start working with the human embryonic cell lines already established by that date, though not with any new ones. That research had long been barred by Congress.

"The cells, which have the capacity to develop into all the tissues of the human body, are of great interest to researchers and physicians. Scientists have already discovered ways of inducing mouse and human embryonic stem cells to convert in the laboratory into brain, liver, pancreatic and other types of body cell. Dr. Schöler's team has added a new class of cell to this list -- the germline cells which make the oocytes or sperm."

[[The reason why these cells have the "capacity to develop into ALL of the tissues of the human body" is because they are totipotent -- not pluripotent (as NIH and others have eternally insisted). If indeed these cells are totipotent and produce ALL of the tissues of the human body -- think about it -- that means that they have produced a whole embryo (not just "cells" or "tissues"). The primitive germ line cells are the "stem cells" used in this research. Primitive germ line cells are diploid (and therefore they can be cloned by several different cloning techniques, e.g., germ line cell nuclear transfer (GLCNT)). Primitive germ line cells are also totipotent -- i.e., once separated from the whole intact human embryo from which they are obtained these totipotent cells can be cloned by "twinning". These are also the cells used in animal research for decades for "eugenics" -- by transferring "foreign" genes into these germ line cells and then reproducing genetically new (and different) human beings by means of either sexual (fertilization) or a-sexual (cloning) methods. The "foreign" genes will then be passed down (copied, duplicated) through the generations -- eugenics.]]

"Human oocytes made in the laboratory this way could bring the idea of therapeutic cloning nearer to reality. This is the concept that physicians could generate new body tissues for a patient by taking a cell from the patient's skin, inserting the cell's nucleus into an oocyte whose own nucleus had been removed, and letting the oocyte develop into an early embryo. Stem cells could be taken from the embryo and induced to develop into heart muscle cells genetically identical to the patient's own."

[[The immediate product of cloning is already an "early human embryo"; it doesn't "develop into" one, as the fake "pre-embryo" was said to do.

Again, the false conceptual distinction between "therapeutic" and "reproductive" cloning has successfully distracted observers from the real issue involved: there are many different cloning techniques that can be used to clone human beings. Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is only one of them. By falsely defining SCNT as the only kind of cloning technique, public attention was thereby switched to the false distinction between therapeutic and reproductive cloning.

The real issue is that the immediate product of both therapeutic and reproductive cloning is a new living single-cell human being/embryo/zygote. The real distinction should have been between SCNT as one means to clone these new living human beings, and the other cloning techniques that could also be used to clone them -- e.g., germ line cell nuclear transfer (discussed in this article), blastomere separation and blastocyst splitting ("twinning"), pronuclei transfer, mitochondrial transfer, etc. -- and now primitive germ line cell "twinning". Given that this research produced some entities that were "only" cells and tissues; but it is also true that this research produced whole new embryos as well.]]

"But if the same embryo were put into a woman's womb, it might grow to term. This is reproductive cloning, the method used to make Dolly the sheep. There is wide opposition to using the technique in people."

[[Again, this conceptual (only) distinction between therapeutic and reproductive cloning is a distinction without a real biological difference; the immediate product of both is a new living human being.

But feminists especially have been lured into a false sense of security by this constant play on words (in order to garner their political support for "therapeutic cloning only"). Rightly they worry. They should worry more than they are, because if scientists, theologians and Congressmen will lie about the objective scientific facts of human embryology and human molecular genetics, they will lie about anything else as well.

Consider also the requirements of the scientific method -- necessary for any research data to be established as sound and for publication in responsible scientific/medical journals. Any and all "interventions" (genetic or otherwise) performed on these early human embryos (and/or their products) will necessarily have to be verified in the later embryo, fetus or child. The only way that scientists have to complete the scientific method and verify the effects of their interventions is to allow the embryo or fetus to further develop and then check it. Aside from the possibility of an artificial womb, just where do you think they are going to find a suitable womb for the incubation of their "projects"?]]

"Therapeutic cloning is seen by some as fraught with hazard because it could so easily lead to reproductive cloning, to the making of a baby instead of the generation of laboratory cell lines. Dr. Schöler said that oocytes made by his method could be genetically engineered so as to be inviable in the womb but still useful for therapeutic cloning, a procedure that might allay some objections to therapeutic cloning."

[[Whoa! Oocytes that are genetically engineered? And we are to believe that at some point in time (when the public is "ready for it") they won't fertilize or clone them, and then implant them to see what happens? Watch out!]]

"Opponents of stem cell research support legislation, passed by the House and pending in the Senate, that would outlaw both types of cloning. Dr. Arthur Caplan, an ethicist at Penn who has advised Dr. Schöler, said the new research showed such bans were premature because stem cell technology was moving so fast. "It's as if they were trying to regulate the aviation industry with only the Wright brothers' plane in front of them," Dr. Caplan said."

[[Yet another Founder of Bioethics, and one who recently defined the immediate product of cloning as not a human being but rather as just "an embryo-like thing" during a recent TV debate on these issues. Presumably Dr. Caplan is aware of the fact that the legislation currently pending in the Senate would not ban any human cloning. But such legislation makes claims to do so, and that seems to be enough for the rest of us.]]

"Besides the unaccustomed idea of generating human oocytes in the laboratory, Dr. Schöler's research points to another anomaly: the oocytes can develop in a dish into embryos, a process that involves a spontaneous doubling of their own genetic material instead of acquiring a second set of chromosomes from a sperm. Dr. Schöler said he has not yet had time to test whether the mouse oocytes and embryos are viable or whether human embryonic stem cells behave in the same way."

[[Give me a break. These oocytes are not haploid. If they really believe this fake "science" then they have no right to be engaged in this research. This is professionally irresponsible. Hopefully they know that oocytes are already diploid -- and will remain diploid until and unless they are fertilized by a sperm (or otherwise artificially stimulated). Thus there is no need for oocytes to "double their own genetic material" in order to become diploid. In fact, if they doubled their genetic material, each cell would then contain 92 chromosomes -- and create a monster if fertilized!

Once again, such fake "science" is used to assuage the concerns of those who fear that new living human embryos might be produced somewhere along the way. And such concern is justified by this research. Oddly, these scientists admit that new embryos can be produced here. But the reason why they are produced is not because they are haploid and somehow double the number of their chromosomes; it is because these cells are totipotent and can "twin".

Oh -- TWINNING! Isn't that the cloning procedure that IVF researchers want to use for "embryo multiplication"? If people found out that IVF clinics were actually performing human cloning experiments by twinning behind closed clinic doors, what would that mean? What would happen? And of course, one can always "appeal to the patient" -- the older woman whose own oocytes are few and difficult to fertilize to produce a normal child. "Appealing to the patient" -- and to Congressmen who are or whose relatives are patients -- has always worked with these issues; why not try the emotional approach again?

By the same effort, we could also get tons of "embryo lines" going strictly for research purposes -- simply by twinning the "left over embryos" of these patients. If some of these embryos can't live in vitro long enough for the primitive germ line cells to begin to be differentiated, then we can get them from early chemical abortions (like those aborted by the "morning-after" pill, RU-486) or "embryo flushing"? Where is all this going?]]

"These developments have surprised theologians accustomed to defining human life as something that starts at conception with the union of oocyte and sperm. "This scientific research is like a cannon ball fired across the bow of Christian bioethics," Dr. Ted Peters of the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley said in a statement."

[[Ahhh. This is where it is going. Not only does such research provide a constant source of living human embryos for pure destructive research and eugenics, it also provides a "scientific" grounding for dissident theologians to once again joyously flail against Humanae Vitae. No wonder these dissident theologians are so excited about and support such research! This is their new substitute for their now-scientifically rejected and defunct "pre-embryo". Seems there's something in it for everyone.

Dissident theologians (and their supporters) on the left have always been fairly visible, e.g., those who so militantly defied Humanae Vitae in 1968 when the encyclical was first published (which included McCormick, Curran, Shannon and Wolters among thousands of others here in the U.S.) What is more opaque are those dissident theologians (and their supporters) on the right, who also use their own brand of fake "science" and unorthodox "orthodox theology" while simultaneously mischievously manipulating the works of the Holy Father in order to arrive at their mindbogglingly naive "theories" that any and all "products" of artificial human reproduction are only "aliens", "beasties" -- definitely not human beings, and certainly not human "persons". "God would not participate in such evil!" Therefore these "beasties" can ethically be used in any and all destructive experimental research. The right meets the left on "common ground".]]

"Dr. Peters added in an interview that ethicists in the past had thought human dignity could be seen to derive from the fertilization process. But mammalian cloning was the first shot at this argument and Dr. Scholer's generation of parthenogenetic embryos "is maybe the second shot," he said."

[[Neither statement is true. I am not a theologian, so I leave a full rebuttal to the good theologians. But I do have some observations. Why is it that theologians especially have done so much violence to theology by incorporating into their "theological theories" so much demonstrably false philosophy and empirically fake science? Doesn't that lead inevitably to a fake "theology"? Human dignity per se does not "derive from" any sexual (fertilization) or a-sexual (cloning) reproductive process, and Humanae Vitae never claimed that it did. Most dissidents, in fact, have never read Humane Vitae itself. Human dignity, the encyclical states, derives from God -- a fact that should be obvious to any Christian theologian. The process of fertilization can be used wrongly, unethically. But that moral evaluation does not change the empirical nature of the new living innocent human being who is thereby reproduced. And once there is a real human being there, a real human person is also necessarily simultaneously there too.

A human child born by rape is still an innocent child with equal human dignity to the rest of us, even though the process used was fertilization. A human child born of incest is still an innocent child with equal human dignity to the rest of us, even though the process was fertilization. The issue is not whether or not these children are human beings or human persons; of course they are. That is their nature. Their natures as living human beings/persons is not changed by the process used to reproduce them. The issue is whether or not the process used was ethical, or whether or not the circumstances or intentions used were ethical. Most of us have little difficulty agreeing that these children are human beings and human persons with full human dignity, or that rape and incest are wrong, We don't need Humanae Vitae to tell us that. We need Hunanae Vitae to tell us why the unethical use of the process of fertilization is wrong, and its devastating consequences for humanity.

The same applies to the reproduction of human beings by cloning. Scientifically there is no question that these are real living innocent human beings. They are also human "persons" -- and only an invalid and academically indefensible philosophical mind/body split can "justify" any delayed personhood at all -- probably the major source of many errant and dissident theological "theories" which knowingly or unknowingly incorporate these classically refuted philosophical errors. The issue again is not the very nature of that which is produced -- a living human child -- but the ethics of the process used. The reproductive process of human cloning does not change the nature of that which is produced. The real issue is that the process of a-sexual reproduction is unethical per se and does violence to the dignity of that new human person that he/she already possesses from God.

It is the violence done to the basic God-given human dignity of each and every human being that results from the unethical use even of fertilization (i.e., IVF) as well as the use of all human reproduction by cloning that Humanae Vitae so prophetically warned us of. It is not that God is cooperating in evil; it is that God created us with a free will so that we could freely choose the "Good". Often we freely choose the evil, and evil choices in these issues will cause devastating tragedy, magnifying a thousand-fold the destruction of human dignity in general which Humane Vitae addressed. Humanae Vitae was not just written for "Catholics"; it was written for all human beings of good will who share in common the same basic human nature. And the devastating consequences of this whole-scale violation of human dignity will fall on Catholic and non-Catholic human beings alike.

But such research does force us to look more deeply into the accurate science to gain a clearer and more complete scientific definition of "a human being". It forces us to understand that a human being (on the physical level only) is defined not just according to the number of nuclear chromosomes specific for the human species (i.e., "46"), but also in terms of the nucleic acid base-pair composition, as well as in terms of the state of differentiation of those chromosomes. Once the accurate science is appropriately acknowledged and understood, then we can understand how a skin cell can become a new human being; how Dolly happened; how monozygotic human twins are formed, etc. Although we don't yet have all the information figured out down to a "tee", we do have the following to go by: these phenomena are explained partially, at least, in terms of the regulative process of de-differentiating (de-methylating) of the nuclear DNA of the donor cell. I and others have explained this science before (too long to go into here; check your local library). But understanding both the macro and the micro science involved will provide clear empirical evidence that disproves and lays to rest any dissident's "theory" that cloned human beings are just "beasties", or that Humane Vitae is no longer relevant for the 21st century -- unless one is only interested in looking for a shot to cross the bow of "Christian" bioethics.]]

"Thomas A. Shannon, an expert on Catholic teachings at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, said the new research challenged the notion that conception signals the presumptive beginning of a human person, as argued in a Vatican document about the gift of life. "If fertilization is no longer a major marker for thinking of the beginning of a person, then where do you go next?" he said, suggesting a better definition might lie in when an embryo develops individuality and a nervous system."

[[Well, I doubt that many consider Shannon an "expert on Catholic teachings" -- other than dissident theologians and their anxious followers. But then, the New York Times has always seemed confused about this. Furthermore, zillions of refutations of this old bioethics "delayed personhood" type argument of Shannon's have been published and successfully challenged -- scientifically and philosophically. But it is quite clear that these old passé dissidents are truly delighted with the perpetrated confusion just stirred up over this latest experiment. Their prayers must have been answered: here is their new "pre-embryo" by any other name. Maybe they can reconstitute their by-now dejected and defunct forces of old and clone some new blood to take the next shots across the bow of Humanae Vitae when they are gone. But all such hopefuls might worry about checking both their "scientific" and their "philosophical" presuppositions for blunders -- and be ready to defend such blunders within and without the academy, in public, in the searing light of day -- on level playing grounds.]]

"A spokesman for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops did not return a telephone call."

[[I wonder why?]]

(Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company)

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