Friday, September 09, 2005

Edmund Pellegrino..

Bush's new appointed head of the President's Council on Bioethics, on the morality of research carried out on embryos -- from testimony before congress in 1999.
The embryo's moral worth is not determined by its instrumental value for others. This would be to absolutize utility and to devalue the lives of all other classes of vulnerable human beings. The societal consequences are grave indeed.

These ethical objections cannot be over-ridden by the claim that the embryo is entitled to a "special respect" but that this respect can be violated if there is sufficient benefit for others. Respect is inherent in the moral status of what the human embryo is in fact. Respect is neither conferred nor removed by arbitrary social convention or convenience.

Nor can the ethical issues be side-stepped by calling the blastocyst a "pre-embryo." This is a euphemism of convenience with no ethical or biological justification. There is no arbitrary point at which we can logically confer or withdraw the moral claim of the embryo for protection of its life.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Pellegrino will take over from Kass

The President intends to appoint Edmund D. Pellegrino, of New York, to be a Member of the President's Council on Bioethics. Upon appointment, the President intends to designate him Chairperson.

My favorite bioethics blog seems happy with the choice. Fine. But no need to disparage Kass like they did. Just because Kass has a different view of how bio-ethics should be practiced than Caplan, doesn't mean Kass deserves to be trashed as a political operative. Shame on AJOB.

The future of fetal farming

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a very thoroughly researched article up discussing "research cloning" and current state legislation regarding cloning. We are on the "The Legislative Slippery Slope to Fetus Farming", as the USCCB puts it.
Until recently, groups promoting research cloning, such as the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), supported state and federal bills that prohibit implanting a cloned embryo in a womb. For example, in Congress they supported the “Human Cloning Ban and Stem Cell Research Protection Act” of 2003 (S. 303). That bill actually allowed the human cloning procedure, calling it “nuclear transplantation,” but banned two things: (1) “implanting or attempting to implant the product of nuclear transplantation into a uterus or the functional equivalent of a uterus”; and (2) maintaining such a cloned human embryo for “more than 14 days from its first cell division,” not counting time spent in a freezer.3

BIO told the President’s Council on Bioethics in June 2003 that it supported this 14-day limit – adding that this may be reconsidered “umpteen years” from now in light of new facts.4

Yet months before making these remarks to the President’s Council, BIO was urging its state affiliates to help pass laws violating this 14-day limit. The national group recommended a new California law on cloning as a “model” for other states.5 That law authorizes “research involving the derivation and use of human embryonic stem cells, human embryonic germ cells, and human adult stem cells from any source, including somatic cell nuclear transplantation.”6 California law also bans initiating a pregnancy using a cloned human embryo, but only if that pregnancy “could result in the birth of a human being.”7

In fact, the same official who presented BIO’s testimony to the President’s Council on Bioethics had already testified in support of a New Jersey bill with this same broad language.8 After critics pointed out that the New Jersey bill did not even really ban “reproductive” cloning, the bill’s sponsors made its extreme scope even clearer. The final law bans “cloning of a human being,” defined as “the replication of a human individual by cultivating a cell with genetic material through the egg, embryo, fetal and newborn stages into a new human individual.”9 Developing the cloned embryo to any point short of this to harvest cells and tissues is allowed, and the governor later decided it could be publicly funded. Only letting the cloned human survive “through” this entire process is prohibited.

Read more at the USCCB Pro-life Activities site.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Christopher Reeve Paralysis Act

Steven at Spinal Confusion has had an article published in Wired News. Congratulation!

The piece is about how stem-cell politics is holding up the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Act (aka Senate Bill 828), which really has nothing to do with stem-cells and is completely controversy free.

Which is true. It is free from embryonic stem cell taint and it is caught up in the politics. People see the name Christopher Reeve and assume that it is about embryonic stem cell research. It's not.

But only because federal funding of embryonic stem cells has been banned. If the senate can pull together a majority to overturn Bush's veto, and S.828 is passed, then there will be a very nice network set up to begin to disseminate funds for unethical research. But should that concern prevent passage of a bill that will contribute to the streamlining of research efforts to find a cure for paralysis? I'm don't think so.

Adult 'stem cells'

The cells were found in the bone marrow of adults by Catherine Verfaillie at the University of Minnesota. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and though the team has so far published little, a patent application seen by New Scientist shows the team has carried out extensive experiments.

These confirm that the cells - dubbed multipotent adult progenitor cells, or MAPCs - have the same potential as ESCs. "It's very dramatic, the kinds of observations [Verfaillie] is reporting," says Irving Weissman of Stanford University. "The findings, if reproducible, are remarkable."

For further reference the President's Bioethics Council has a paper regarding adult "stem cells" and their possibilities.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Rehnquist, a fellow extremist, R.I.P.

From the very end of Linda Greenhouse's Rehnquist obit:
While the new chief justice found the confirmation process extremely disagreeable, he kept his composure and even his wry sense of humor. At one point, a Republican Senator, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, commended him for his recent dissent in Wallace v. Jaffree, the case on silent prayer in the Alabama public schools. Senator Hatch observed that the Senate Judiciary Committee had voted for a constitutional amendment to allow such prayer. 'What you have been labeled extreme for, is something a majority of this committee supports,' Senator Hatch said.

Justice Rehnquist smiled and shrugged. 'We're all extremists together,' he said.

h/t: NRO Corner