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Stem cell compromise?

What do people think of this?

Discussions - 4 Comments

I am against it.

They are using doublespeak to describe what they are talking about doing.

If it worked so well for Steve Stice etal. why don’t they commercialize their method and pay for their future research themselves?.

Makes me itch.


I’d be all for it if there was any indication of any success. But, so far, I haven’t seen anything to support this (perhaps someone else has and would care to provide a link):

But he also worries that U.S. researchers are losing their edge in a lucrative and dynamic field that is moving overseas or into private laboratories (emphasis added).

Politically, it’d be a great way for the Pubbies to steal Dems’ thunder for the ’08 election, but it’d be at the expense of angering fiscal and religious conservatives.

I oppose embryo-destroying stem-cell research, and while unlike comment #1, I don’t think I can judge the sincerity of those who originated this proposal, I also oppose this. The promise is that only non-viable embryoes will be destroyed, and therefore the injustice of taking life away from someone who had potentiality for it is removed. All of us are "born to die" as the old gospel song puts it, but these particular embryoes are not even capable of being born.

In that, they are apparently like many embryoes that are naturally produced outside the lab. To think theologically about this, if there is a God, apparently He "fearfully and wonderfully frames" these potential persons in the womb but for unknown reasons frames them not well enough to live. And so perhaps God would not object to us using the material remainders of this mystery to better our merices toward the sick and suffering.

But assuming either that we can answer the last sentence affirmatively or that we do not believe in a God that personally makes each potential person, there remains a fundamental problem. It is that by endorsing these practices now with what are described as untapped leftovers, we will come to need a continual supply of these non-viable embryoes. (I assume if treatments were to develop from these stem-cell lines, that they would require continual infusions of "fresh" genetic material, although I confess I am now at the margins of my understanding of the science here, and of what we may reasonably expect from future science.) Thus, regardless of what is avialable now, we will have to get in the business of deliberately producing non-viable embryoes. For the theologically inclined, that is very much "playing God." For the environmentally/Heideggerian inclined, that is very much a "rationalization of the world" kind of move. For those only interested in whether an injustice has been done, it is identical to asking whether it is just to genetically engineer a baby that cannot survive child-birth, for the purpose of harvesting various organs and materials. Identical except that the baby/fetus, as opposed to the embryo, will feel pain and have some greater awareness when it is destroyed. In sum, we will get in the business of creating non-viable humans, for the sake of using them without feeling guilty about doing so.

I suppose some of those who do recognize the injustice of taking potential life for the benefit of others will not have a problem with this, so long as the case is as its promoters describe, and no potential life is involved. But the article suggests that researchers are often not sure which embryoes are viable or not--they simply discard some based on a rule of thumb that suggests they likely won’t be viable. Thus, the science as it currently stands cannot remove the concern of this group about taking potential life.

And in the political arena, all sorts of insincerity, of the sort comment #1 is worried about, is possible in the manner in which this proposal is sold. Consider this sentence from the article: "Isakson’s proposal would give stem cell researchers access to donated, fertilized eggs, but only those that are considered nonviable and destined for destruction." Change the "and" there to an "or" and we’re back to square one, because under our current practice of allowing embryo-storage for fertilization treatment, almost all stored embryos, viable or not, are destined for destruction. Elsewhere in the article, the writer mentions that "63% support research on stem cells taken from donated embryos that would otherwise be discarded," and it is not clear that the writer sees that "non-viable" and "would otherwise be discarded" are not the same class of embryoes.

I do hope no-one will address my points here with pedantry about whether a certain thing is best called a "blastocyst" or an "embryo" or what not. School me on the science essentials if I need schooling on those, but otherwise address me as a citizen, and address my main points.

Since human development begins with conception, as is taught in human embryology and is explicitly stated in every human embryology textbook, then how can anyone honestly be in favor of embryo stem cell research or even rationalize it?

Then again, we, as humans have rationalized killing and/or doing medical research on unsuspecting born humans, it is no surprise that many can then consider such things in regards to the unborn as being nothing to be alarmed or concerned about even though basic science dictates otherwise.

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