Friday, July 01, 2005

Go Maggie!

Maggie Gallagher hands Mario Cuomo his hat!
Mario, Mario, a panel of scientists couldn't prove that you have a right to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness either. The question of why human rights exist, and who therefore has them, is not a scientific question. Fobbing off core questions like this onto a panel of scientists is merely an attempt to evade moral and intellectual responsibility for one of life's most basic questions: Where does our shared American belief in equality and human rights come from?
With all due respect, Gov. Cuomo, I believe scientists are human beings, not gods. They cannot be exempted from questions of right and wrong, and should not be placed in the unscientific position of corporately issuing dicta, dogma or fatwa about right and wrong that the rest of us are somehow obliged to accept as gospel.
When scientists are placed above the moral law by society, then like other human beings, they sometimes do amazingly evil things. Scientists who believed scientific knowledge was above morality reduced black men to guinea pigs in Tuskegee. Scientists in Nazi Germany committed unspeakable atrocities in the name of scientific progress.
Let's get this straight: I'm in favor of stem cell research. What I'm against is turning human beings into research objects that are 'harvested' without their consent in the name of scientific progress. I'm greatly in favor of stem cells. I'm against cloning and killing in order to get them. I'm pro-scientific progress. I'm against creating an industry based on the destruction of human life. I don't want to eat my own offspring to find the fountain of youth -- or anyone else's children either.

Maggie Gallagher is definetly my kind of stem cell extremist!

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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Embryonic stem cell research bad for women too

According to the congressional testimony of Pia de Solenni, a director at Family Research Council:
Dr. David Prentice, formerly a professor of life sciences at Indiana State University, now at the Family Research Council, has crunched the numbers to show how many women would be involved just to cure diabetes. To date, the highest cloning efficiency with animals has been 20-30 percent. This means about 50 eggs per animal treatment are required. In the US, there are 17 million diabetes patients. Given the best successes with animal cloning, scientists would have to obtain a minimum of 850 million eggs, harvested from at least 85 million women. Scientist Peter Membaerts gives an even higher estimate of 100 eggs per treatment. According to the 2000 census, there are about 60 million American women of reproductive age. Where will the other eggs come from? And would all 60 million American women be amenable to this?

It takes 85 million women to cure all the diabetics in America? So not only do embryos need to be used for parts, but women do as well. Doesn't sound like a good model for "cures" to me. Sure the process will become more efficient, and they may even be able to do without the women, eventually. In the mean time, they still push forward with the propaganda. Overselling hype and promises to people who are suffering enough already.

Questions to ask your legislator...

George Weigel provides a good list of questions to ask your representative in Summer Civics and Stem Cells

On May 24, the U.S. House of Representatives accelerated America’s descent into Huxley’s brave new world by voting to provide Federal funding for embryo-destructive stem cell research. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had made clear that this issue involved fundamental issues of justice; yet seventy-three Catholics – 57% of the Catholics in the House – voted to spend taxpayer dollars to destroy human life for research purposes.

Now whether you are Catholic or not, the following questions deserve answers. So, write a nice letter to your congressman (or congresswoman) if he was among those who supported HB 810.
1) Why did you support legislation that, for the first time in American history, requires the Federal government to promote and support the destruction of innocent human life? (If the solon in question says that it’s impossible to recognize the humanity in these tiny embryos, remind him or her that that’s exactly what he or she looked like at that stage of life.)

2) Why did you vote for a bill that tramples on the moral convictions of the majority of the American people who do not favor embryo-destructive stem cell research?

3) Why did you vote for a bill that deflects scientists’ attention from forms of stem cell research that have already shown great promise, or may show such promise in the future? Were you aware that, to date, not a single therapeutic application has been derived from embryonic stem cell research, while miracles of biblical proportion – the blind recovering their sight, the lame walking – are being performed with therapies using adult stem cells and stem cells from umbilical cords?

4) Why did you vote for H.R. 810 when the President’s Council on Bioethics reports that there may be ways to create the kind of "pluripotent" stem cells sought by scientists without destroying embryos in the process?

5) Why did you vote for embryo-destructive stem cell research while knowing that this practice will strengthen pressures for cloning, against which the United States has no federal legal barrier today? (And if you didn’t know this, why didn’t you?)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Way to go Wisconsin!

After a debate that pitted hope for cures to some of humanity's deadliest diseases against the specter of vats of proto-humans grown for spare parts, the Republican- controlled state Assembly voted Thursday to ban human cloning in Wisconsin.
The bill, which passed on a mostly party-line 59 to 38 vote, now goes to the state Senate.
Lawmakers turned down a provision that would have banned just reproductive cloning - cloning to create an embryo that would result in a child - while allowing therapeutic cloning, or cloning to create cells for research and medical treatments.
Both procedures involve creating a human embryo by injecting a human egg with adult DNA, a practice opponents said they found repellent regardless of the outcome.
And while lawmakers seemed united in their opposition to reproductive cloning, critics - mostly Republicans - said therapeutic cloning is also wrong because the embryo would be destroyed to obtain the coveted blank-slate stem cells researchers say offer promise of cures to diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

and later in the article...
The bill faces a likely veto by Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle if it is passed by the Senate, prompting Democrats to charge Republicans with grandstanding. If they really wanted to ban cloning, said Rep. Marlin Schneider, D- Wisconsin Rapids, supporters would have adopted a ban on just reproductive cloning, which Doyle would sign.

Well that wouldn't have really been a ban then would it?

If you live in Wisconsin you should contact your governor and let him know that he ought not to veto a bill that protects life.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Language games we play

John Leo notes at the end of an article about double speak:
In America’s clone wars, politicians have argued for years over the alleged distinction between “therapeutic cloning” and “reproductive cloning.” But the only difference is in the intent of the scientists who manipulate the embryos. The procedures and the biological entities created are the same.

The problem for euphemizers is how to get rid of the scary words “clone” and “embryo.” Early efforts to create soothing new terms such as “ovasome,” “embryolike entities,” and “activated egg” failed to catch on. So the International Society for Stem Cell Research opted for jargon. The word “cloning” was dropped in favor of “somatic cell nuclear transfer” to produce “human NT blastocysts,” from which scientists in South Korea, who did not utter the word “clone,” recently extracted “hESC.” Sustainable language added. Linguistic problem solved. (source)