What Human Embryo?
Funniest Mental Gymnastics from Medicine and Research

13  Jonathan Van Blerkom, human embryologist at University of Colorado, in American Medical News, Feb. 23, 1998, p. 32; also, Ian Wilmut: "The majority of reconstructed embryos were cultured in ligated oviducts of sheep... Most embryos that developed to morula or blastocyst after 6 days of culture were transferred to recipients and allowed to develop to term," etc. [I. Wilmut et al., "Viable offspring derived from fetal and adult mammalian cells," 385 Nature 810-813 (Feb. 27, 1997)], and also, "One potential use for this technique would be to take cells -- skin cells, for example -- from a human patient who had a genetic disease... You take these and get them back to the beginning of their life by nuclear transfer into an oocyte to produce a new embryo. From that new embryo, you would be able to obtain relatively simple, undifferentiated cells, which would retain the ability to colonize the tissues of the patient." - Ian Wilmut, in 7 Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 138 (Spring 1988).

On being asked in an interview: "Do you think that society should allow cloning of human embryos because of the great promise of medical benefit?"]: "Yes. Cloning at the embryo stage -- to achieve cell dedifferentiation -- could provide benefits that are wide ranging..." - Keith Campbell, head of embryology at PPL Therapeutics and co-author of Dr. Wilmut's landmark paper, in 7 Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 139 (Spring 1988).

Lee M. Silver, professor of molecular biology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, "Yet there is nothing synthetic about the cells used in cloning... The newly created embryo can only develop inside the womb of a woman in the same way that all embryos and fetuses develop. Cloned children will be full-fledged human beings, indistinguishable in biological terms from all other members of the species. Thus, the notion of a soulless clone has no basis in reality.", in Remaking Eden: Cloning and Beyond in a Brave New World (Avon Books 1997), p. 107.

"This experiment [producing Dolly] demonstrated that, when appropriately manipulated and placed in the correct environment, the genetic material of somatic cells can regain its full potential to direct embryonic, fetal, and subsequent development." - National Institutes of Health, Background Paper: Cloning: Present uses and Promises, Jan. 29, 1998, p. 3.

"The Commission began its discussions fully recognizing that any effort in humans to transfer a somatic cell nucleus into an enucleated egg involves the creation of an embryo, with the apparent potential to be implanted in utero and developed to term." - Cloning Human Beings: Report and Recommendations of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (Rockville, MD: June 1997), p. 3. [Back]

14 Rick Weiss, ""Stem Cells An Unlikely Therapy for Alzheimer's: Reagan-Inspired Zeal For Study Continues", Washington Post, June 10, 2004, A03, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A29561-2004Jun9.html. [Back]

15 It is important for understanding these cloning debates - especially the definitions of these processes and the "products" formed -- that the human genome is not defined in terms of the nuclear genes alone, but in terms of the total DNA in the cell, including DNA found outside of the nucleus in the cytoplasm. Strachan and Read (1999): "The human genome is the term used to describe the total genetic information (DNA content) in human cells. It really comprises two genomes: a complex nuclear genome ... , and a simple mitochondrial genome ... Mitochondria possess their own ribosomes and the few polypeptide-encoding genes in the mitochondrial genome produce mRMAs which are translated on the mitochondrial ribosomes. (p. 139); In animal cells, DNA is found in both the nucleus and the mitochondria. (p. 10); The mitochondria also have ribosomes and a limited capacity for protein synthesis." (p. 18) Lewin (2000): "A genome consists of the entire set of chromosomes for any particular organism, and therefore comprises a series of DNA molecules, each of which contains a series of many genes. The ultimate definition of a genome is to determine the sequence of the DNA of each chromosome. (p. 4); ... Genes not residing within the nucleus are generally described as extranuclear; they are transcribed and translated in the same organelle compartment (mitochondrion or chloroplast) in which they reside. By contrast, nuclear genes are expressed by means of cytoplasmic protein synthesis." (p. 81) This is why the cloned human embryo reproduced by nuclear transfer is not "genetically identical" to any "existing or previously existing" human being. The importance of these facts are particularly important when used in formal definitions in laws and regulations, since if they do not specifically address something then it is not covered. Indeed, bad science simply becomes bad law, and is then perpetuated through the courts as stare decisis. [Back]

16 See, e.g.: (1) Congressional website, Cloning Basics: 101: "What is Cloning?" ... It is false to say that cloning solves the transplant rejection problem. Each embryo clone would still contain mitochondrial DNA from the egg donor; the clone is NOT an exact genetic copy of the nucleus donor, and its antigens would therefore provoke immune rejection when transplanted. There would still be the problem of immunological rejection that cloning is said to be indispensable for solving," at http://www.house.gov/weldon/issues/clone_basics.htm. (2) "Congressman Weldon's Cloning Facts", quoting testimony of Dr. Irving Weissman before the President's Council on Bioethics, "I should say that when you put the nucleus in from a somatic cell, the mitochondria still come from the host" [from the female egg] ... And in mouse studies it is clear that those genetic differences can lead to a mild but certainly effective transplant rejection and so immunosuppression, mild though it is, will be required for that", at http://www.nrlc.org/Killing_Embryos/Weldoncloningfacts022603.hrml; also at: http://www.traditionalvalues.org/pdf_files/Human_Cloning.pdf. (3) Transcript of House Hearing introducing Weldon Bill, Cliff Stearns (FL) testimony before Hearing before the Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives, 107th Congress, 1st Session on H.R. 1644 and H.R. 2172 (June 20, 2001), "Seven States' proposals ban the creation of genetically identical individuals, but that leaves another loophole. An egg cell, donated for cloning, has its own mytochondrial DNA, which is different from the mytochondrial DNA of the cell that provided the nucleus. The clone will, therefore, not truly be identical", at: http://energycommerce.house.gov/107/hearings/06202001Hearing291/print.htm. (4) Senator Sam Brownback, "Some proponents of human cloning claim that an embryo created in this manner will have cells that are a genetic match to the patient being cloned, and thus would not be rejected by the patient's immune system. This claim is overstated at best; in fact there are some scientific reports that show the presence of mitochondrial DNA in the donor egg can trigger an immune-response rejection in the patient being treated, in "A True Complete Ban", National Review Online, Feb. 26, 2003, at: http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-brownback022603.asp. (5) Leon Kass, "Before one starts arguing the morality of embryo farming, we should know that the whole matter is science fiction. The egg containing my nucleus is not fully my genetic twin. It also contains residual DNA -- mitochondrial DNA -- from the woman who donated the egg. The cloned embryo and all cells derived from it remain partly 'foreign,' enough to cause transplant rejection", in The Chicago Tribune, July 31, 2001, quoted by Dave Andrusko in, "Averting a Catastrophe", at: http://www.nrlc.org/news/2001/NRL08/editA.html. (6) President's Council on Bioethics, "The technique of cloning ... bring to live birth a cloned animal that is genetically virtually identical (except for the mitochondrial DNA) to the animal that donated the adult cell nucleus", in Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry, "Executive Summary; Fair and Accurate Terminology; Scientific Background", at: http://www.bioethics.gov/reports/cloningreport/execsummary.html. (7) George Annas, "How could such stem-cell lines be generated? One way is by transferring somatic-cell nuclei into enucleated eggs (nuclear transplantation). When stimulated to divide, the cell can form blastocysts of predefined nuclear genotype (with the mitochondrial DNA coming from the egg)", The New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 346:1576-1579 May 16, 200, "Stem Cells Scientific, Medical, and Political Issues", at: http://www.gardacuore.net/rigenerativa/ARTICOLI/NEJM_Issues.htm. [emphases added] [Back]

17  See the development of the erroneous term "pre-embryo" in the early works of, e.g., Richard McCormick, S.J., "Who or what is the preembryo?", Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 1:1 (1991). In this paper McCormick draws heavily on the work of frog embryologist Clifford Grobstein, as well as from "an unpublished study of a research group of the Catholic Health Association entitled 'The Status and Use of the Human Preembryo', (p. 14).

The influence of the McCormick/Grobstein term "pre-embryo" was (and still is) widespread even among Catholic scholars. In addition to the works of McCormick and Grobstein, see acceptance of the term "pre-embryo" also in: Andre E. Hellegers, "Fetal development," in Thomas A. Mappes and Jane S. Zembatty (eds.), Biomedical Ethics, (New York: Macmillan, 1981); Hellegers, "Fetal development", Theological Studies (1970), 31:3-9; Charles E. Curran, "Abortion: Contemporary debate in philosophical and religious ethics", in W. T. Reich (ed.), Encyclopedia of Bioethics 1 (London: The Free Press, 1978), pp. 17-26; Kevin Wildes, "Book Review: Human Life: Its Beginning and Development" (L'Harmattan, Paris: International Federation of Catholic Universities, 1988); Carlos Bedate and Robert Cefalo, "The zygote: To be or not be a person", Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (1989), 14:6:641; Robert C. Cefalo, "Book Review: Embryo Experimentation, Peter Singer et al (eds.); 'Eggs, embryos and ethics'", Hastings Center Report (1991), 21:5:41; Mario Moussa and Thomas A. Shannon, "The search for the new pineal gland: Brain life and personhood", The Hastings Center Report (1992), 22:3:30-37; Carol Tauer, The Moral Status of the Prenatal Human (Doctoral Dissertation in Philosophy; Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University, 1981) (Sister Tauer's dissertation mentor was Richard McCormick; she later went on to become the ethics co-chair of the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel 1994); C. Tauer, "The tradition of probabilism and the moral status of the early embryo", in Patricia B. Jung and Thomas A. Shannon, Abortion and Catholicism (New York: Crossroad, 1988), pp. 54-84; Lisa S. Cahill, "Abortion, autonomy, and community", in Jung and Shannon, Abortion and Catholicism (1988), pp. 85-98; Joseph F. Donceel, "A liberal Catholic's view", in Jung and Shannon, Abortion and Catholicism (1988), pp. 48-53; H. Tristram Engelhardt, The Foundations of Bioethics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), p. 111; William A. Wallace, "Nature and human nature as the norm in medical ethics", in Edmund D. Pellegrino, John P. Langan and John Collins Harvey (eds.), Catholic Perspectives on Medical Morals (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishing, 1989), pp. 23-53; Norman Ford, When Did I Begin? (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988), p. 298; Antoine Suarez, "Hydatidiform moles and teratomas confirm the human identity of the preimplantation embryo", Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (1990), 15:627-635; Thomas J. Bole, III, "Metaphysical accounts of the zygote as a person and the veto power of facts", Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (1989), 14:647-653; Bole, "Zygotes, souls, substances, and persons", Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (1990), 15:637-652.

See also: See Richard McCormick's testimony in The National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research; Report and Recommendations; Research on the Fetus; U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, 1975, pp. 34-35; McCormick, How Brave a New World? (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press), p. 76; McCormick, "Proxy consent in the experimentation situation", Perspectives in Biology and Medicine (1974), 18:2-20; Paul Ramsey's testimony in The National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research; Report and Recommendations; Research on the Fetus; U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, 1975, pp. 35-36.

The use of the term "pre-embryo" has been quite widespread for decades -- nationally and internationally. In addition to the Catholic scholars who accepted the use of the term "pre-embryo" as noted above, a partial list of secular bioethics writers who also accepted the use of the term in these debates includes: Paul Ramsey, "Reference points in deciding about abortion" in J.T. Noonan (ed.), The Morality of Abortion (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970), pp. 60-100, esp. p. 75; John Robertson, "Extracorporeal embryos and the abortion debate", Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy (1986), 2;53;53-70; Robertson, "Symbolic issues in embryo research", The Hastings Center Report (1995, Jan./Feb.), 37-38; Robertson, "The case of the switched embryos", The Hastings Center Report (1995), 25:6:13-24; Howard W. Jones, "And just what is a preembryo?", Fertility and Sterility 52:189-91; Jones and C. Schroder, "The process of human fertilization: Implications for moral status", Fertility and Sterility (August 1987), 48:2:192; Clifford Grobstein, "The early development of human embryos", Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (1985), 10:213-236; also, Science and the Unborn (New York: Basic Books, 1988), p. 61; Michael Tooley, "Abortion and infanticide", in The Rights and Wrongs of Abortion, M. Cohen et al (eds.) (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1974), pp. 59 and 64; Peter Singer and Helga Kuhse, "The ethics of embryo research", Law, Medicine and Health Care (1987),14:13-14; Kuhse and Singer, "For sometimes letting - and helping - die", Law, Medicine and Health Care (1986), 3:40:149-153; Kuhse and Singer, Should The Baby Live? The Problem of Handicapped Infants (Oxford University Press, 1985), p.138; Singer, "Taking life: Abortion", in Practical Ethics (London: Cambridge University Press, 1981), pp. 122-123; Peter Singer, Helga Kuhse, Stephen Buckle, Karen Dawson, Pascal Kasimba (eds.), Embryo Experimentation (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990); R.M. Hare, "When does potentiality count? A comment on Lockwood," Bioethics (1988), 2:3:214; Michael Lockwood, "When does life begin?", in Michael Lockwood (ed.), Moral Dilemma's in Modern Medicine (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), p. 10; Hans-Martin Sass, "Brain life and brain death: A proposal for normative agreement," Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (1989), 14:45-59; Michael Lockwood, "Warnock versus Powell (and Harradine): When does potentiality count?" Bioethics (1988), 2:3:187-213.

See also the use of the term "pre-embryo" in many national and international documents (a small sample): Ethics Advisory Board (1979) Report and Conclusions: HEW Support of Research Involving Human In Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Transfer, Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare, p. 101; National Institutes of Health Human Embryo Research Panel Meetings (Washington, D.C.: NIH, 1994), Feb. 2 meeting, pp. 27, 31, 50-80, 85-87, 104-106; in the Feb. 3, 1994 meeting, pp. 6-55; April 11 meeting, pp. 23-41, 9-22. See also, Dame Mary Warnock, Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilization and Embryology, (London: Her Majesty's Stationary Office, 1984), pp. 27 and 63; British House of Lords, "Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulations 2001"; Commonwealth of Australia, Select Senate Committee on the Human Embryo Experimentation Bill, (Canberra, Australia: Official Hansard Report, Commonwealth Government Printer, 1986); Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, On the Use of Human Embryos and Foetuses for Diagnostic, Therapeutic, Scientific, Industrial and Commercial Purposes, Recommendation 1046, 1986; and On the Use of Human Embryos and Foetuses in Scientific Research, Recommendation 1000, 1989; Ethics Committee of the American Fertility Society (AFS), "Ethical Considerations of the New Reproductive Technologies", Fertility and Sterility (1986), 46:27S. See also Jonsen, esp. Chapters 4 and 12.

For scientific refutations of the false term "pre-embryo" and its "pre-embryo substitutes", see, e.g., articles by C. Ward Kischer, a Ph.D. human embryologist who has taught human embryology for over 30 years: "Stem cell research, Ron Reagan, and John Kerry", http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/kisc/kisc_07cellsearchkerry.html; "Why Hatch is wrong on human life", http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/kisc/kisc_06whywrong.html; "The corruption of the science of Human Embryology", http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/kisc/kisc_01humanembryology.html; "There is no such thing as a pre-embryo", http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/kisc/kisc_05nopreembryo.html; "Cloning, stem cell research, and some historic parallels, http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/kisc/kisc_02historicparallels.html; "The beginning of life and the establishment of the continuum", in Kischer and Irving, The Human Development Hoax: Time To Tell The Truth!, (Clinton Township, MI: Gold Leaf Press, 1995 and extensively revised and expanded second edition by co-authors (1997), pp. 4-13; "When Does Human Life Begin? The Final Answer -- A human embryologist speaks out about socio-legal issues involving the human embryo". See also article by Sarah Sexton, "New Reproductive and Genetic Technologies: International versus National Campaign Issues", in The Geneticization of Health (p. 8), presentation to International IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) - Kongress Medizin und Gewissen (Medicine and Conscience), Erlangen, Germany, 24-27 May 2001, http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/document/medcon.html.

See also Irving articles refuting both scientifically and philosophically the false term "pre-embryo" indexed at PubMed: "NIH and human embryo research revisited: what is wrong with this picture?", Linacre Q. 2000 May ;67(2):8-22, PMID: 11817406, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=11817406; "'New age' embryology text books: 'Pre-embryo', 'pregnancy' and abortion counseling: Implications for fetal research", Linacre Quarterly May 1994, 61(2):42-62, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=11652337; "Testimony before the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel", Linacre Q. 1994 Nov;61(4):82-9, PMID: 11652834, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=11652834; "Quality assurance auditors: how to survive between a rock and a hard place", Qual Assur. 1994 Mar;3(1):33-52, PMID: 7804617, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=7804617; "The impact of "scientific misinformation" on other fields: philosophy, theology, biomedical ethics, public policy", Account Res. 1993;2(4):243-72, PMID: 11652144, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=11652144; "Which ethics for science and public policy?", Account Res. 1993;3(2-3):77-100, PMID: 11652298, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=11652298.

All of these articles are also accessible in full on-line at http://www.lifeissues.net/section.php?topic=ir. See also, Irving: "Fake Science and Scary Ethics of Cloning" (August 24, 2004), British Medical Journal Rapid Response to "Book Review: A Clone of Your Own? The Science and Ethics of Cloning", by Trefor Jenkins, http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/eletters/329/7463/466#71990; "The Kettles calling the Pots fake: "When is cloning not 'cloning'?"; When both sides play politics -- with human lives" (July 27, 2004), http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_63kettle1.html; "Playing God by manipulating man: Facts and frauds of human cloning", http://www.mocatholic.org/uploads/IrvingCloning3.pdf, and http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_22manipulatingman1.html; "A ONE ACT PLAY: The early human embryo: 'Scientific' myths / scientific facts: Implications for ethics and public policy", Medicine and Human Dignity's "International Bioethics Conference: 'Conceiving the embryo', Brussels, Belgium (October 20, 2002), (in press, and CD-Rom), http://www.cfjd.org/www/articles/the_early_human_embryo.htm, and http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_11oneactdrama1.html; "Requested testimony on Canadian Bill C-13 ('Assisted Human Reproduction Act')", House of Commons (December 9, 2002), http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_16canadianbill.html, and http://www.clcns.com/Action%20Items.htm; "Analysis: Canadian Bill C-56", http://www.lifesite.net/features/stemcellembryo/irvingcritiquebillc56.pdf, and http://www.clcns.com/Action%20Items.htm; "Analysis: Stem cells that could become embryos: Implications for the NIH Guidelines on stem cell research, the NIH stem cell report, informed consent, and patient safety in clinical trials" (July 22, 2001), http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_39anlystemcel1.html; "University Faculty for Life: Submission of Concern to the Canadian CIHR Re the 'Human Stem Cell Research Recommendations 2001'", submitted to Dr. Alan Bernstein, President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research Working Group on Stem Cell Research, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (June 3, 2001), at: http://www.uffl.org/irving/irvcihr.htm, and http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_60canadiancihrrecomm1.html; "University Faculty for Life: Letter of Concern to Sen. Brownback and Congressman Weldon Re the 'Human Cloning Bill 2001'", (May 27, 2001), at: http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_52weldonbrownback1.html, http://www.uffl.org/irving/irvbrownback.htm; "University Faculty for Life: Submission of Concern to the British House of Lords Re the 'Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulations 2001' submitted to Tony Rawsthorne, Select Committee, House of Lords, London (June 1, 2001): http://www.parliament.the-stationeryoffice.co.uk/pa/ld200102/ldselect/ldstem/83/8313.htm, (acknowledgment), and http://www.uffl.org/irving/irvlords.htm (full text); "When does a human being begin? 'Scientific' myths and scientific facts", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 1999, 19:3/4:22-47, http://www.l4l.org/library/mythfact.html, and http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_01lifebegin1.html; "UFL submission to NBAC Report: Research Involving Human Biological Materials: Ethical Issues and Policy Guidance", VOLUME I Report and Recommendations of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission Rockville, Maryland August 1999 The National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC), acknowledged Appendix E, p. 111; Invited Congressional testimony (oral and written), "The immediate product of human cloning is a human being: Claims to the contrary are scientifically wrong", Scientific Panel on "Cloning: Legal, Medical, Ethical, and Social Issues", Hearing before the Subcommittee on Health and Environment of the Committee on Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives, Room 2125, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. (February 12, 1998); also in Linacre Quarterly (May 1999), 66:2:26-40, http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_09cloninghuman1.html; "Cloning: When word games kill", (May 13, 1998), at: http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_06wordgame.html; "Academic fraud and conceptual transfer in bioethics: Abortion, human embryo research and psychiatric research", in Joseph W. Koterski (ed.), Life And Learning IV (Washington, D.C.: University Faculty for Life, 1995), pp. 193-215, http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_10fraud1.html, and http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/nbac/hbm.pdf; "Scientific and philosophical expertise: An evaluation of the arguments on 'personhood'", Linacre Quarterly February 1993, 60:1:18-46, http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_04person1.html; and Irving doctoral dissertation on this issue, Philosophical and Scientific Analysis of the Nature of the Early Human Embryo (Doctoral dissertation, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., 1991). [Back]

18 O'Rahilly and Muller (2001), p. 88. [Back]

19 See Richard McCormick, S.J., "Who or what is the preembryo?", Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 1:1 (1991). [Back]

20 See note 17 supra. [Back]

21 See note 3 supra. [Back]

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