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Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Britain leads the way in Frankenstein research yet again

The Daily Mail reports today that Biologist Karim Nayernia has created a cocktail of chemicals and vitamins that have turned human stem cells into sperm. The procedure is hailed as a "treatment" for male infertility. We are given some further details of how the research is envisaged as progressing:
Viewed through a microscope, they have heads and tails and swim like normal sperm, and Professor Nayernia is 'convinced' they would be capable of fertilising eggs and creating babies.

He has more safety checks to carry out but plans to apply for permission to use some of the artificial sperm to fertilise eggs for research purposes.
(See: Ethical storm flares as British scientists create artificial sperm from human stem cells - and do vote in the poll today if possible.)

John Harris, Professor of Bioethics at the University of Manchester says:
I cannot see a downside to research that increases the range of human possibility and choice.
(See: Independent, A world without men? That's not the real ethical issue here)

Well, the Daily Mail has managed to spot one or two possible ethical areas of "downside" such as the potential for cells to be taken from the dead in order to 'father' children, and the ethical problem of creating artificial sperm to create experimental embryos that will be used solely for research purposes.

Of course, "human possibility and choice" sounds a terribly worthy secularist aim but the children produced by this means will not have the human possibility of being conceived by a loving act of their parents. And if the possibilities and choices are extended further, they may not even have a living father.

In Caritas in veritate, Pope Benedict has drawn attention to the way in which this kind of research poses disturbgin threat to our future:
In vitro fertilization, embryo research, the possibility of manufacturing clones and human hybrids: all this is now emerging and being promoted in today's highly disillusioned culture, which believes it has mastered every mystery, because the origin of life is now within our grasp. Here we see the clearest expression of technology's supremacy. In this type of culture, the conscience is simply invited to take note of technological possibilities. Yet we must not underestimate the disturbing scenarios that threaten our future, or the powerful new instruments that the "culture of death" has at its disposal. To the tragic and widespread scourge of abortion we may well have to add in the future - indeed it is already surreptiously present - the systematic eugenic programming of births. (n.75)
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