Embryos and/or Fetuses?

In a letter dated March 7, 2009, LCMS President Jerry Kieschnick called for prayer regarding President Obama's reported intention to sign an executive order reversing restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Indeed, we should pray. However, his message then gets quite confusing at this sentence:
“Fertility-clinic leftovers otherwise destined to be thrown away” is a terribly offensive and utterly disrespectful way to describe what remains of a tiny human being taken from a mother's womb, after having been created by God's marvelous gift of the procreation of precious life.
What are you talking about, President Kieschnick? You are confusing two very important issues in this sentence. Do you even know where embryonic stem cells come from?

I expect the readers of this blog know that embryonic stem cells are taken from an embryo - the stage of development a baby is at approximately four days after the moment of conception. Mechanical abortions, on the other hand, are done much later than the embryonic stage of development, at which point the baby is called a "fetus."

In fact, the "leftovers" in fertility clinics unfortunately have never even seen the inside of a womb. "Fertility-clinic leftovers" are not "taken from the mother's womb after having been created by God's marvelous gift of procreation." That statement describes what happens at abortion clinics - not what happens at fertility clinics.

Of course, it is no less a sin to murder an "embryo" in the laboratory than it is to abort a "fetus" from the womb. Life begins at conception, whether that conception happens by God's marvelous gift of procreation in a mother's womb, or by man's perversion of this gift in a laboratory petri dish.

There is an important point to be made in talking about these two distinct issues. See this article from The Slate: Drill Babies, Drill - If harvesting embryos is OK, how about fetuses?


Thom said...

Confusion of terms seems to be a common problem these days. Even President Clinton seems confused. Speaking in favor of stem cell research last week, he said repeatedly that an embryo is not fertilized and therefore is not a "little baby." For this reason, he was sure people would get behind this embryonic stem cell research. See it here

Thom said...

oops, try it on this one

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Wow! Is that confusion, or intentional Clintonesque misinformation? I suppose that depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is, or perhaps what the meaning of the word "fertilized" is. Scientists already have conveniently redefined "conception" as occurring at "implantation." Perhaps the next step is to conflate "fertilization" into this same new understanding of "conception."

Perhaps it is also too much to expect that even intelligent people are going to fully understand the science of all this sinful tinkering with procreation. In fact, I propose that the science of this matter is really quite a red herring, employed by our opponents and even Satan himself, to draw us even further away from seeing the primary error from which all of this flows -- a perverted understanding of marriage and procreation.

It's time to look back much earlier in our cultural history than the advent of in vitro fertilization. How got to this point when, in order to negotiate all the options at his disposal, the common man has to understand the science of procreation and, for the sake of his conscience, define for himself the exact moment when life begins.