Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Well said, Fellow Extremist

Linda T. Berry from
Raymond, Missouri
points out why her local paper is wrong in supporting embryonic stem cell research.
"The policy of creating and then destroying human life at the will of science, for the benefit of those who supposedly have greater right to existence and health is truly alarming for a free society, as it reduces the value of human persons within it - at any stage of life - to that of a cash crop for harvest.

This devaluing of human life is against the teachings of any religion which honors life as the gift of a loving God, and degrades the reproductive function of man and woman in the process, since the 'product' is created to be killed."

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Jailbreak


See this an more great cartoons at In Toon with the World, a great pro-life cartoon site by Zach Brissett.

Willing into existence - or how we can best use abandoned children

Louis M. Guenin an ethicist, posits a theory on how we can best rationalize the use of human embryos in research.
"Guenin writes that the overlooked reasoning starts from the premise that a woman's decision declining transfer of her externally created embryo into her,
or into anyone else, is a morally permissible exercise of discretion; and further, that an embryo barred by such a decision from the womb does not correspond to a possible person and cannot gain anything from being classified as an actual person."

This is actually becoming quite a popular idea. Somehow it is the will of the mother that brings the child into existence. If the mother wills that it is not a child, then it is a clump of cells that can be removed. If the mother wills that it is a child, then we can welcome the very same clump of cells into the human family.

The objective reality is that the cells are the same in either case. Identical. All that is different is the subjective opinion of the mother. One of the opinions is flat out wrong. Last time I checked there was only one being who could use his will to bring anything into existence.

Take special note of the second part, "an embryo barred from the womb". A womb is an embryo's natural environment, much as an infant belongs in the arms of the mother or the family. Would an infant barred from the mother also be a non-person? No, it would just be an abandoned child. Most societies would have pity on the abandoned child and try to offer a different home. But not us. We like the idea of using that abandoned embryo to further our scientific understanding. What happens to a society that uses abandoned children in such a fashion?

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Monday, August 08, 2005

Jesus can't really work both sides of the aisle

Chris Bell, potential future governor of Texas said:
“Stem cell research isn't just a good idea, it's a moral imperative. Jesus didn't tell us to heal the sick unless politics got in the way. When Jesus healed the lepers and gave the blind their sight, He didn't stop to worry about slippery slopes and potential implications.”


Hmmm, I don't seem to recall Jesus killing anyone in order to cure those lepers or blind people. You would think people might recognize that that could be a problem. A really big, giant, huge enormous PROBLEM!!!!

The invisible hand of necessity

I have made the case before that HB 810, or Castle-DeGette is really a stupid bill in every aspect imaginable.

First, it makes federal money available for the destruction of embryos for scientific ends. That's why most Christian pro-lifers don't like it.
Secondly, it only makes federal money available for "leftover" IVF embryos. That's why most scientists don't like it (and a few will admit as much). Of that 400,000 number that you have heard volleyed around, only about 40-60% (estimates range) could be made into viable stem cell lines. The South Koreans have proven that fresh eggs and fresh embryos make much more efficient stem cell lines.

Castle-DeGette does not endorse that per se, but it doesn't explicitly ban it either. That is what the "Frist Compromise" article in the Weekly Standard was trying to point out. If Frist wants to allow funding for IVF leftovers than he ought to make sure that embryo creation for stem cell research is banned.

But, as Elizabeth Whelan, speaking for the side that wants more funding, points out:
"If you believe that making available the 400,000 fertilized eggs now in the freezers of medical facilities around the country will give researchers what they need to forge ahead with new breakthrough technologies, then of course you would applaud Senator Frist's announcement. And you would ask for no more.
But the well-guarded secret is that access to these few hundred thousand embryos, while it may assist researchers temporarily, is only part of what is needed to keep America in competition with other nations seeking stem-cell based therapies.
What American stem cell scientists need is what is granted to scientists in countries around the world: federal funding for research that involves what is technically known as 'somatic cell nuclear transfer' (SCNT). "

Well, when your opposition is making your point for you, you ought not to stand in the way. But I can't help but add that I don't think they really need to worry. If Castle-DeGette is passed, they may not get their cloning funding right away, but the culture will become used to the idea of experimenting on embryos. Nascent human life, the origins of all of us, we come to be seen (quickly and painlessly) as a necessary commodity for the betterment of human life (that is human life that has made it past that stage). It is an easy step from there to convince people that we now need to clone embryos in order to benefit even more.

The same logic that allows us to use "leftover" embryos will allow us to clone fresh ones. So I would tell Ms Whelan. Relax, bid your time. If Castle-DeGette passes you will get your way. Science and technology tend toward efficiency by the invisible hand of necessity. Since it is possible, it will become necessary.