Thursday, June 30, 2005

Not dismembering babies? Are you sure?

Wired reports that:
Such statements are like fingernails on a chalkboard to stem-cell researchers like Leonard Zon, president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, which is trying to get the message across that embryos are a microscopic mass of several hundred cells, and no body parts to dismember.

Sure an embryo has no discernable limbs to dismember -- but let's look at a 5 day old blastocyst to get a better understanding of what is going on.

Notice the cells that form the outer ring? That is called the trophoblast and eventually forms the placenta. The large cluster of cells at the center is the inner cell mass. That is the section that is extracted to begin the colonization of stem cells. That inner cell mass is also what will become the body of the fetus. When that mass is removed, the embryo dies.
Since the blastocyst has two parts, removing one part is, in effect, a dismemberment. The embryo may not look like a "person" but it is exactly what we all looked like at that stage of our development. We were just lucky to escape the aspirating needle.