Friday, September 02, 2005

Why JPII"s Theology of the Body is relevant to bioethics...

To one who holds to John Paul’s Christian understanding of the body, and so believes that each human being, from the very first moment of existence, emerges from and is called towards eternity, there are no negotiable or even very perplexing issues regarding our moral obligations before the mystery of life. Not only is every abortion performed an act of murder, but so is the destruction of every “superfluous” embryo created in fertility clinics or every embryo produced for the purposes of embryonic stem cell research. The fabrication of clones, the invention of “chimeras” through the miscegenation of human and animal DNA, and of course the termination of supernumerary, dispensable, or defective specimens that such experimentation inevitably entails are in every case irredeemably evil. Even if, say, research on embryonic stem cells could produce therapies that would heal the lame, or reverse senility, or repair a damaged brain, or prolong life, this would in no measure alter the moral calculus of the situation: human life is an infinite good, never an instrumental resource; human life is possessed of an absolute sanctity, and no benefit (real or supposed) can justify its destruction.

because it is possible, it becomes necessary

ARTIFICIAL wombs, to bring a foetus of a human being to full term outside a woman's body, could become a reality within 20 years, scientists have predicted. "

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A satirical truth

Cribbed from Taranto's Best of the Web:
From "$pringfield," an episode of "The Simpsons," which originally aired Dec. 16, 1993:

Principal Skinner: Now, I, uh, hesitate to bring this up, but a number of cities have rejuvenated their economies with, er, legalized gambling. There is an added bonus: some of the revenue can go to help our underfunded public schools. . . .

Ned Flanders: What do you think, reverend?

Rev. Lovejoy: Once something has been approved by the government, it's no longer immoral.

That's the beauty of satire, it gets to the point so, well, pointedly.

All the more reason to oppose the Castle/DeGette bill. It only makes it easier to take the next step - creating embryos to destroy them.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Embryonic stem cell research arguments are morally flawed

For most people, the disconnect between the senator’s [Frist's] stated beliefs and his support of embryo-destructive research is obvious. The senator provides no meaningful explanation on how he reconciles his belief that “nascent human lives” deserve “utmost dignity and respect” with his conclusion that these same human lives can be intentionally destroyed and used as raw material for research. It appears Frist has a strange definition for the word “utmost.”

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Stem-Cell Conspiracy

This reads like a headline from The Onion. Scientists come up with a Nobel-level breakthrough allowing scientists to convert human skin cells into embryonic stem cells. They have the honesty to publish results that are politically inconvenient (because we can now say, 'I told you so, ethical science works'). And the press frames their achievement as if it 'muddles' the debate-because, of course, it makes it harder for those who want the federally funded destruction of embryos."

Roberts v. the Future

Sunday, in the magazine section of the New York Times, there was a long piece asking us to consider the future questions that would be put before the Supreme Court in order to better judge the suitability of Roberts. I certainly can agree that that would be a prudent measure since a great many of those issues with be bioethical based; however, that approach magnifies how unprepared we are to have a true debate over the nature of the bioethics beast. When the basis for rejection or acceptance of a parent's "right" to select their children based on certain traits can be reduced to liberal or conservative, libertarian or traditional, it shows our fundamental inability to grasp the nature of the issue.
" while a libertarian conservative like Anthony Kennedy, who argues that the Constitution protects a broad sphere of autonomy over intimate and personal decisions, might vote to overturn it.[A state law banning the use of genetic testing of embryos for selective purposes]
At the moment, the Kennedy-style vision of personal autonomy is most vigorously defended among legal scholars by a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin named John Robertson. He argues that the right to have offspring or not, recognized in Roe v. Wade, necessarily entails some right to select the characteristics of the offspring. ''The liberal notion of autonomy over reproduction includes some right of selectivity that logically could extend to nonmedical traits,'' Robertson told me, ''but how far has to be sorted out by the Supreme Court and the country.'' "

This issue really isn't about parents rights to do what they want with their children. Its about what it means to be human and to what extent our "tinkering" with ourselves harms both our freedom and our dignity. I'll repeat: this is about what makes us human. I, for one, would be terrified if the Supreme Court suddenly decided it was within its realm of power to decide that!

Cloning for cures, cloning for babies

Is there a difference?

Obviously there is a difference in outcomes. In therapeutic cloning, the resulting embryo is dissected at day 5 of its development when the inner cell mass is withdrawn. Those stem cells are then grown into cells lines from which any sort of tissue may be developed. Or so the theory goes.

In reproductive cloning, the resulting embryo is put back into a womb and allowed to mature until natural birth.

Though the intent of the projects are different, the technique is identical. Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer. It goes by a lot of different names these days: all thought up by people who are trying to convince us that there is a real technical difference between therapeutic and reproductive cloning. They are lying.

In short, the process begins with embryo manufacture. The entire genetic blueprint of this new creation is under our control. The resulting embryos are artifacts of our will, power and control.

Knowing that the "manufactured" is never of the same status as the "manufacturer", what does is say about cloned embryos as a class? Are they human like us? Are they less than human? Are the more than human? Are they "post-human"?

And what does it say about a society that tolerates the creation of a class of people, like us but "less" than us? A class of people upon which we are allowed to "feed"? Once this is openly tolerated, it is not the same society. It can't be. After all, what happens to human dignity and freedom, when we are just a pool of genetic material waiting to be manipulated and manufactured by our own hands?

These are the kind of questions we should be debating. Not rehashing this into a debate on abortion. It is a fundamental aspect of how we as a society want to live both now and in the future. Where is that debate happening?

Senator Brownback has introduced a bill to ban any and all attempts at human cloning. It deserves our support.

The prospect of human cloning, so repulsive to contemplate, is the occasion for deciding whether we shall be slaves of unregulated innovation, and ultimately its artifacts, or whether we shall remain free human beings who guide our powers toward the enhancement of human dignity.
--Leon Kass, Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity.


Success of Stem Cell Therapy in Heart Attack Patient

A 61 year-old heart attack patient was successfully treated at Saitama Medical School in Japan, using bone marrow cell transplant. Dr. Shunei Kyo states that this is the first case of heart attack treated with the help of stem cell therapy, and that the patient has already been discharged from the hospital, after having been disconnected from an artificial heart. "

That, it should be noted, would be an ADULT stem cell success... Imagine that! More success for those unglamorous, non-celebrity endorsed, boring, old, adult cells.

Meanwhile, those who support the destructive and dehumanizing forms of embryonic stem cell research have pulled the wool of the eyes of all of us, especially those who suffer from chronic and fatal diseases like this woman:
Candace Coffee, a UCLA graduate student who suffers from a rare ailment called Devic's disease, urged Congress to pass Feinstein's legislation.

"Somatic cell nuclear transfer offers a chance for a cure," she said in a choking voice. "It's a chance for me to lead a normal life. Don't take away my hope."

Cloning is not your best or only hope. It's just not.