Lost at times in the heat of debate about stem cell research, or any controversial advanced technology, is the need for precision in debate and discussion. The details matter a great deal, ranging from the need to use words that have precise definitions, to accurately quote colleagues and adversaries, and to cite scientific and medical results in a way that reflects the quality, rigor, and reliability of the work at issue. Regrettably, considerable inaccuracy has found its way into the debates about stem cells, on all sides, with consequent fogging of the issues.
A key detail that is often overlooked in the debates about the uses of human embryonic stem cells in research comes from the nature of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment for infertility. Specifically, there are many frozen human embryos (more precisely called blastocysts) that are in excess of reproductive needs of the couple who generated them, and that must be either frozen indefinitely, donated to another couple, or destroyed.