The second of Romney’s “Values” that can be found on his site is Stem Cell Research. As most if not all of his “opinions,” it’s a carbon copy of one of the many mantras used by the GOP and Mitt is firm on those values until something shakes his internal etch a sketch and suddenly he changes his “opinion.” However, I doubt this time he will change his position on any of the issues on his website, he is not running on his own personal views and values – he is running on what the Koch brothers and Citizen’s United order him to “believe in.”
Mitt Romney, like many other people on the right and some on the left, is uncomfortable with the use of “embryos” for scientific research and specifically for the developing and advancing of stem cell research. On his page, Mitt repeats what we have heard over and over again about the “dignity” an embryo deserves. Mitt continues to say that it is “…our moral duty to protect human life in its most vulnerable form.” That is ridiculous! To begin with, what is typically used to conduct stem cell research is not an embryo; probably these words are used because these are the terms most commonly recognized by all of us. What it is used are blastocysts. A blastocyst is nothing more than a cell with a structure that contains the necessary environment for the embryo to develop but IT IS NOT an embryo. A blastocyst is.0079 inches (the size of a pinhead) or smaller and at that stage the cells have yet to create what later we will recognize, if only through a vivid imagination, as an embryo.
An infertile woman prior to the In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedure, must submit to a series of hormone treatments and injections to secure a high production of eggs at a controlled pace. this is an expensive procedure which not always is covered by insurance. When the woman is ready, a specialist will surgically remove all the eggs produced, inseminate them in a lab and place the fertilized eggs in an incubator. From 3 to 5 days after the insemination, a number of those eggs are implanted back into the woman’s womb where the blastocyst cells will attach to the walls of the uterus. Sometimes, there are no more fertilized eggs left and this is the end of the procedure and if unsuccessful, the process starts all over again. But there are times where the procedure was a success and there are fertilized eggs left. What happens to the remaining fertilized eggs (blastocysts)? They end up at either one of two places: A cryopreservation tank or in the Biohazards trash bin.
It is obvious that the couples that opt for cryopreservation are in most part wealthy, since this is a costly procedure. Those couples that are not wealthy, especially if the procedure was a success, don’t even think of the many other eggs that were fertilized and not used. It isn't common for the donors to request the zygotes or blastocysts to be returned to them to provide “them” with a proper burial. Simply they end up in the Biohazards bin. That is what I find so ironic about the “moral duty to protect human life”… as far as I know, if the parents don't claim the fertilized eggs, no one complains about they ending up in the trash; the complaining and morality comes from finding a useful way to dispose of these cells. The immorality comes from using these cells, which otherwise would end up in the garbage, for any scientific research; it is then and only then that the holier than thou will yell about protecting the unborn. Placing the cells in a garbage bag? It’s perfectly fine, even “dignified.” Ending up in a science lab where that cell could help thousands of real people have a better future? Immoral!!! This is the only instance where it is preferred to be thrown away than finding a meaning for the creation and termination of any form of life, even one as primitive as this one. Only a very close-minded person would prefer disposal to usefulness.
Mitt and many others are against creating life in a lab from an existing blastocyst for the sole purpose of replicating the cells for stem cell research in other words, cloning. I am torn about this one. Not because I think it is morally or theologically wrong, but because we were raised watching horror flicks where we watched a mad scientist create "monsters" that later ended up trying to eliminate us. The simple thought of it sends chills through my spine! But we are grownups and we should overcome our apprehensions. If scientists cannot use the “embryos” that are going to be destroyed then, scientists should be allowed to clone. What should not be allowed is allowing the clone to develop further than a necessary.
Romney supports adult stem cell research and alternative methods and I think that too should be pursued. I believe that neither he nor I are scientists and we should leave science to those that know best for the sake of humanity. I am sure Mitt would not dare to tell a cardiologist how he should perform open heart surgery. Not long ago many viewed having a heart transplant with horror and apprehension and today its common practice. Then why do politicians persist in telling scientists what to do in a lab?
Life is precious and no one is debating that, but a person that has been born and is living should always be more important than a cluster of cells. How can you defend the “dignity” of a cell and disregard the right for a dignified life to people with Parkinson, congenital diseases, or those who are paraplegic or even quadriplegic or the millions of people that suffer from other ailments? For the people and the families that might benefit from these research is a matter of life or death, the success of this research gives them the hope that they will have their life back and most importantly, their dignity.
Useful links about conception:
Stages of Development of the Fetus