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Bioethics

The President's Step Backwards on Stem Cells

Here's a response by members of President Bush's Council on Bioethics to Obama's recent statement and new policy. The president has undermined progress that has really been made to reconciling the needs of science and the moral concerns of many Americans, and it's not at all clear that he hasn't opened the door to reproductive cloning. I urge bloggers of all stripes to link this response to ensure that it provokes a real national discussion.
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Discussions - 5 Comments

Not to score a political point, but do you really think that the President and his liberal followers are interested in a national debate on the issue? I think they perceive anyone who is against this as an ignorant Christian fundamentalist who should be marginalized and ignored because they are supposedly "anti-science," anti-progress, and unenlightened. They now perceive the opportunity to free us from the dimness of Bush-era ignorance. I don't think this is a caricature.

Well Tony I think it is a caricature, but one that does apply. I might simply note that I knew the president and his liberal followers would not be interested in the national debate because any move in this direction threatens to open up abortion to greater scrutiny. You can't grant that an embryo is human and that abortion is not murder. If it is unethical to kill embryo's then it is unethical and therefore not a right to abort. Abortion is a right therefore putting embryo's to use is a right(or not prohibited, or if prohibited on economic grounds strictly and not moral ones.)

If I have the right to an AK-47 then I have a right to a 9 mil. If I have the right to shoot an intruder who is breaking into my house then I have the right to throw a baseball at him.

NOW and the abortion lobby in general clearly perceives that questioning the moral grounds of the escalation of force upon the embryo leaves them completly screwed in defending abortion.

They are also thereby analogically commited to mocking the pope when he makes statements about condoms.

When Pinker says that this is a "catholic conspiracy" he is simply renewing his commitment to abortion. A vantage point from which is set in motion a whole set of logically necessary propositions. If you are pro-life on abortion but hedge on the embryo then you are interested in the conversation, if you are pro-life but disagree with the pope on condom use then you are interested in the conversation, if you are pro-life and protestant then...if you are pro-life but want to think more closely about ethics in general...if you are pro-choice and really a philosopher, that is you are open to reversing your position on becoming pro-life because you fear the technological consequences of human cloneing(or other reasons)...then you can participate...In some sense Dr. Lawler you need a Saletan(of Slate) someone who is pro-choice but open to thinking about these issues.

No Democrat who wishes to maintain the support of NOW can consider the points made by the Bioethics Forum.

No democrat who is pro-choice can do this because the question is formulated thusly: "How can embryonic stem cell research, conducted in accordance with basic research ethics, be maximally aided within the bounds of the principle that nascent human life should not be destroyed for research?”

No pro-choice democrat can grant the principle that an embryo constitutes "nascent human life"...it cannot happen, they can pretend to give the issue consideration...but the conclusion is foregone...

Only a philosopher is capable of pushing the "for research" clause, and holding to a pro-choice position on the grounds of "choice".

The GOP is marching in lockstep to complete irrelevancy so they should be giving their full support to anything that might lead to cloning. Think about it -not enough votes to get elected? Call out the clones!

US becoming like Europe with the white birth rates declining? Presto, call in the clones! That's the only hope for the current GOP -CLONES!

With clones whites will be back on top in no time!

So Obama's approach to this issue is really a template for the marriage of technocratic governance with faux populism: make rhetorical concessions to moral ambiguity and then dismiss these ambiguities when it come to the formulation of actual policy. Sometimes he slips: in his inaugural and in the memorandum on scientific integrity he does seem to reject the view the scientific innovation requires any moral superintendence: virtue is the expansion of our individual aotonomy over nature. And right now it might be the case that keeping the Bioethics Council intact, while ignoring their prescriptions, is a good way to create the appearance of nuanced concern where none exists.

AK-47 then I have a right to a 9 mil not so actually, funny thing about the current scholorship on that issue is that they are now arguing that it gave you the right to certain arms and not others. Mabye you have a right to arms of a sporting nature but not an ar15 semi auto or anything taking 223 or .762 ammo. Another possiblity is that you have the right to flintlock muskets and flintlocks alone.

I like the point about abortion being at the center of the stem cell research issue. Regardless of what the court says I think it is pretty obvious that abortion is a legal form of murder meaning that stem cells are as well. That being said, its even worse to use stem cells because it is almost literally sucking the blood from a child to extend the life of someone else. The technology just makes it more palitable, would superman have championed the cause if they made him bite down on the fetus and drink the stem cells out. Organ transplants and blood transfusions have the consent of the doner just to refute that argument.

I really doubt Obama or anyone else who has held his position recently says what they think or what they are planning to do in stump speeches.

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