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pudge's Journal: Embryonic Stem Cell Research 32

Journal by pudge

The most common argument I hear against those who oppose embryonic stem cell research is one that is, to me, completely vapid. It basically goes, "we could save a lot of people with this research, so therefore we should do it."

This argument makes one of two assumptions, as best I can tell. It could be assuming that the embryonic life (and it is a unique human life, biologically speaking; this is a scientific fact not seriously questioned) is not a life that deserves any protection at all. This is, of course, classic question-begging: this is the very crux of the issue, and so assuming it is nonsensical.

The other possible assumption -- sometimes stated explicitly -- is that even if these are lives, it is acceptable to kill them, because other lives are worth more. Humanity has gone down this path before, and I refuse to. It's anathema. And its atrocity is compounded by the fact that it's the government choosing which lives are more valuable.

So please, save your breath. Don't say "we should do this because good may result." (And worse, don't tell me that good will result, because no one can know that.) If you want to convince me, you cannot possibly do so by telling me the potential benefits; you can only do so by convincing me that no human life is being intentionally killed for the sake of research. I don't care if you convince me that we will cure AIDS and cancer tomorrow by killing off a few dozen embryos today, I will oppose it, if I believe, as I do now (because how could I not?), that those are human lives. Period, end of story.

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Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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  • The one I hear most commonly is that there are a lot of left over embryos [wikipedia.org] not used for each In Vitro Fertilization, and they will be destroyed anyway. So why not use them for the good of science?
    • Another nonsensical thing to say. Since all people are going to die anyway, why not use any of them for research?
      • The more logical thing to do is ban Fertility Clinics. If people cannot get pregnant on their own, without the assistance of Doctors, then obviously God didn't want them to have children, and they should live their lives like that. As a matter of fact, since God has so clearly spoken, they shouldn't be allowed to adopt either (that will help keep those pesky fags from adopting kids and turnin' em too!).

        *Disclaimer: This entry is at least partially in jest. The writer of this snippet is using a literary t
    • Couldn't the same argument be used for conducting fatal experimentation on our death row inmate population? They're scheduled for destruction anyways, why not use them for the good of science?
      • Yes and no. An inmate has a chance of exoneration or appeal or commutation of sentence, while a frozen leftover embryo has only two choices--dumpster or research lab.

        The situations aren't similar enough to constitute the start of a slippery slope, IMO.

        In my opinion, refuting this to my satisfaction will involve pointing out other alternative paths that said embryos can take.
        • In my opinion, refuting this to my satisfaction will involve pointing out other alternative paths that said embryos can take.

          An alternative path would be embryo adoption.
          AKA Snowflake Babies [wthr.com]

          It is interesting to think about. If (as an embryo) he would have been sent to an ESC lab Braden Robinson wouldn't exist today. I am a little biased since I am adopted also, and if my biological mother would have decided to have an abortion instead of giving me up for adoption I wouldn't be around either.
        • Sorry, I am not buying "it is going to die anyway, so it is OK to kill it." Does no compute.
          • That's more or less a question of values for me--I see options of "it's effectively dead, we can (do something useful) or (let it die)." For me it boils down to minimizing harm--and from that standpoint, if I'm going to throw it away, I might as well get some use out of it first. Then again, I also plan to devote my corpse to science and organ donate, and I also don't believe there's fundamentally anything sacred about human life, per se--just human consciousness. (which, incidentally, is how I justify a
  • You should, if you feel that way about embryos. Bush on the other hand is a flaming hypocrite unless he pushes for legislation to ban it.
    • You should, if you feel that way about embryos.

      It's different. Look at what I wrote. There's a difference between intentionally killing something, and what happens in fertility treatments, where some embryos inevitably die, but are not intentionally killed.

      That said, I do find the practice, to be polite, distasteful.

      This appears to me to be the inverse of the slippery slope argument, and it's no better than the slippery slope argument itself is. I could say "I oppose fertility treatments because they mig
      • There's a difference between intentionally killing something, and what happens in fertility treatments, where some embryos inevitably die, but are not intentionally killed.

        I disagree. In both cases embryos are killed, and the participants make a decision that leads to their being killed. If you oppose one you should oppose the other.

        What did he ever say that implies he should, to be consistent, try to prevent private people from doing it

        Isn't that exactly what the GOP "moral values" agenda is about

        • If you oppose one you should oppose the other.

          That's obviously false, since they are, in fact, different. Again, in one you are actually intentionally killing something, and in the other, you are not. You may not see a difference between doing something that leads to the death of something, versus actually intentionally killing it, but it is unreasonable for you to say I should not see a difference.

          Isn't that exactly what the GOP "moral values" agenda is about - preventing private individuals from doing t
          • Right. The difference is that Bush (and many people in this country) are against the governmetn forcing us to give it money so that it can pay to have these experiments carried out.

            If someone is so in a hurry to kill babies for research, they can do it on their own dime, or in another country.

            jason
      • There's a difference between intentionally killing something, and what happens in fertility treatments, where some embryos inevitably die, but are not intentionally killed.

        Hm. It's my understanding that, in many fertility treatments including IVF, many embryos are intentionally culled so as to leave only the viable ones. Only the ones that are most likely to survive are implanted into the womb for further sustenance. Most others are destroyed (unless they are frozen).
        • But that's talking about a specific form of the procedure, rather than the broad discussion we're having.
          • Yes, and no. I agree that it's taking the discussion farther afield than that of embryonic stem cell research, and I should probably desist from exploring the tangent further.

            But generally speaking, fertility treatments that involve creation and direct manipulation of embryos are not respectful of life in a similar sense to the disrespect that embryonic stem cell researchers employ.

            So the consideration of the topic of fertility clinics, with regard to whether one approves or opposes their treatment of embr
            • But generally speaking, fertility treatments that involve creation and direct manipulation of embryos are not respectful of life in a similar sense to the disrespect that embryonic stem cell researchers employ.

              Yes, but the actual actions taken are not entirely similar. Similar enough to compare, but not similar enough to say "if you oppose embryonic stem cell research, you should therefore oppose fertility treatments." That said, I would not personally engage in such treatments, but my time is too valuabl
  • ...is that even if an embryo isn't a life, that it's STILL worth it just because it may save lives. They wouldn't accept that reasoning behind researching cloning or weapons, would they? Researching mustard gas gave us a whole new perspective on how poisonous gases move through the lungs - research that later was used to help deliver life-saving drugs.
  • Am I correct in saying that you're absoloutely opposed to the taking of one innocent life for the benefit of another?
    • No, you are not, as I've not commented on such a thing.
      • Then what do you mean by "sometimes stated explicitly -- is that even if these are lives, it is acceptable to kill them, because other lives are worth more. Humanity has gone down this path before, and I refuse to. It's anathema. And its atrocity is compounded by the fact that it's the government choosing which lives are more valuable."

        Or does this anathema only apply within the scope of research? Or even just within embryotic research?
        • Or does this anathema only apply within the scope of research? Or even just within embryotic research?

          Yes, my comments were specific to the context of killing for the sake of research. Sorry if that wasn't entirely clear before.
  • I'm somewhat ambivalent about the research myself. As you brought up, the key is how one views the individual lives of the embryos, similar to how the abortion debate often revolves around when a fetus is presumed to be viable. Personally, I've never really settled on a firm answer, so my approach is to err on the side of preserving life where possible. That said, all Bush said is that our federal taxes won't pay for this research.

    While fairly socially conservative, I usually don't advocate that my vi

    • Personally, I've never really settled on a firm answer, so my approach is to err on the side of preserving life where possible.

      Right, the Star Trek approach: "look, that little blip of light is showing possible signs of intelligence, so we can't terraform this planet!"
  • by mgessner (46612)
    The most common argument I hear against those who oppose embryonic stem cell research is one that is, to me, completely vapid. It basically goes, "we could save a lot of people with this research, so therefore we should do it."

    FWIW I agree with you.

    RG recently mentioned in his journal that it seems that ESC doesn't produce good results; in fact, tumors have been a result.

    I'm very much against ESC for a simple reason:

    - it destroys that which, if left alone, could grow into a human being (those who submit tha
    • by pudge (3605) *
      If someone can point to reputable research that shows that ESC is the only way to do important research that can't be done with ASC or USC, fine, bring it on.

      I disagree. If it is wrong, the fact that it is the only viable method to accomplish something important doesn't make it right. There are some lines I am unwilling to cross, and experiments on what are (again, this is indisputable biological fact) unique human lives is one of those lines.
      • This wasn't meant to be "fine, then go ahead and do it," although I can see where you could draw that conclusion.

        I meant, "fine, show the research, although I doubt you can prove anything by it."

        It's still wrong, even if it's the only way.
  • What happens to the fertilized eggs from fertility treatments that go unused now, Pudge?

    • I don't understand the relevance of the question.
      • As the average couple engaging in invitro fertilization techniques generally has anywhere from 4 to 29 fertilized eggs left over after a successful procedure, what should be done with those eggs? As they are human life at that point, what needs to happen with those eggs and who foots the bill? Even with donation, there isn't enough demand, probably due in part to the high cost of the procedures, for the eggs that are left.... also, if possible, most people that can afford inivtro and have their own funct
        • This is an important issue, but it's not the one I posted about, or have given much thought to.

          Given this problem, I wonder why pro-lifers would support these procedures at all.

          Do some support them?

  • Why not allow an embryo to divide to 8 cells, then split it into two parts. One half goes to it's intended purpose (fertility treatments, indefinite storage, etc...) - the other half goes to research. No life created or destroyed for the purpose of research.

He's dead, Jim.

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