Stem Cells Are Not Just About Science

Obama's policy ignores ethics and morality

Not many of us would want the federal government to leave military procurement to defense contractors, Medicare reimbursement to doctors, or banking regulation to Citigroup. But President Obama says when it comes to allocating federal funds for scientific studies, we should defer to scientists.

That assertion came in reference to research on the use of embryonic stem cells to find treatments for various diseases. Obama announced that he was junking President Bush's rules, which limited federal funding to research using embryonic stem cell lines that existed before August 2001.

"This order," said the president, "is an important step in advancing the cause of science in America" and "protecting free and open inquiry." Harold Varmus, co-chairman of the president's scientific advisory council, said it showed the president would rely on "sound scientific practice ... instead of dogma in developing federal policy."

But one person's dogma is another one's ethical imperative or moral principle. Science can tell us how to build a nuclear weapon. But science can't tell us whether we should use it.

Just because research may be useful in combating disease doesn't mean it's ethically acceptable. The infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment—in which the federal Public Health Service secretly withheld treatment from infected black men to learn more about the disease—might have yielded valuable data. But no scientific discovery could possibly have justified it.

Research on embryonic stem cells is controversial because it requires the destruction of live human embryos. Supporters find it easy to minimize the significance of this fact because the embryos are only a few days old—nothing more than "blastocysts."

But if it's OK to destroy 5-day-old embryos to further scientific inquiry, is it OK to destroy embryos that are five weeks old? Five months? Eight months? Science can't answer that question.

You don't have to be part of the pro-life movement to have qualms about this kind of scientific inquiry. James Thomson, the University of Wisconsin biologist who pioneered the field, has said, "If human embryonic stem cell research does not make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, you have not thought about it enough." The president's new order suggests we shouldn't think too much.

In 2001, supporters of embryonic stem cell research called on Bush to allow experiments using "surplus" frozen embryos in fertility clinics, arguing that they would be disposed of anyway. But Obama didn't limit his new policy to these fertilized eggs.

On the contrary, he left open the possibility of funding studies using embryos created specifically so their cells can be harvested—which Congress has barred, but which some advocates would like to allow. The president took no position on whether scientists should be permitted to create embryos for the sole purpose of dismembering them for their stem cells.

He did, however, reject another option. "We will ensure," he said, "that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong and has no place in our society, or any society."

Is that a scientific judgment? No, it's a philosophical one, reflecting Obama's moral values. Apparently, the folks in the white lab coats can't be relied on to answer all questions.

But this position is hard to square with his professed approach. On one hand, the president says his policy is "about letting scientists like those here today do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion." On the other, he will use coercion to keep them from doing reproductive cloning.

What this mandate means is simple: It may be permissible for scientists to create cloned embryos and kill them. It's not permissible to create cloned embryos and let them live. Their cells may be used for our benefit, but not for their own.

There lies the reality of embryonic stem cell research: It turns incipient human beings into commodities to be exploited for the sake of people who are safely past that defenseless stage of their lives.

It's a change that poses risks not just to days-old human embryos. The rest of us may one day reap important medical benefits from this research. But we may lose something even more vital.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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  • jester||

    I fixed Stracotto of Lamb with olives and orange last night. Great dinner. Two nights before I fixed Duckling Stew Foggia-style with olives and fennel seeds. Also great.

    Conclusion: Baby meat is better than grown up meat.

  • jester||

    BTW

    Mario Batali is quite the chef and his cookbooks are chick-seduction 101.

  • Mad Max||

    In this article, Steve Chapman finally comes into his own. His earlier articles are to this one as the ugly duckling is to the swan, as Prince Hal is to Henry V, as a can of Bud is to a finely-crafted microbrew.

    From the article:

    'You don't have to be part of the pro-life movement to have qualms about this kind of scientific inquiry. James Thomson, the University of Wisconsin biologist who pioneered the field, has said, "If human embryonic stem cell research does not make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, you have not thought about it enough." The president's new order suggests we shouldn't think too much.'

    QFT

    'What [Obama's] mandate means is simple: It may be permissible for scientists to create cloned embryos and kill them. It's not permissible to create cloned embryos and let them live. Their cells may be used for our benefit, but not for their own.'

    QFT

    Chapman nails the ethical issues of embryonic stem-cell research. Let me just round off the argument by citing to this article, which shows that the stem-cell crusaders are not only doing bad ethics, they are doing bad science. The vast miracles promised by the supporters of stem-cell research were not only exaggerated, but known to be exaggerated. For example:

    'In the summer before the 2004 presidential election, Ron McKay, from the National Institutes of Health, admitted that he and his fellow scientists had generally failed to correct the media's false reports about the promise of stem cells-but that was all right, he told the Washington Post, since ordinary people "need a fairy tale." They require, he said, "a story line that's relatively simple to understand."'

  • Dogmatist||

    is it OK to destroy embryos that are five weeks old? Five months? Eight months?

    Every cell is sacred.

  • jester||

    Human Embryonic Stem-cell research does not bother me. The Cory Maye case does.

    Get your priorities straight MadMax.

  • jester||

    I suggested a recipe for duckling. Now swan? I don't know. Probably gamy-tasting. Definitely a bath of olive oil, rosemary and juniper berries. From there it's pure conjecture.

    BTW, isn't swan as in Trumpeter Swan and Tundra Swan, two wholly protected species.

    You fuck! Did you actually shoot a swan!

  • Mad Max||

    'Human Embryonic Stem-cell research does not bother me. The Cory Maye case does.

    'Get your priorities straight MadMax.'

    As if the recession has forced us onto a limited ethics budget, and if we object to one abuse, we can no longer afford to protest another abuse.

  • jester||

    Bad ethics, bad science. Business as usual. Why are you so passionate when it comes to the realm of reproductivity?

  • jester||

    When does life become a human. Probably sometime way after birth. But I am willing to compromise at: sometime before the placenta is delivered but not too much before.

  • Pro-reason||

    What is wrong with libertarians these days? In my own country (finland) racial theories are gainig ground and you people are starting to brown-nose right-wing christians. Get a grip people! We are supposed to stand for freedom and rationality, and rational conclusion is that before the embryos develop a nervous system they are unable to feel ANYTHING!

  • ||

    Conclusion: Baby meat is better than grown up meat.

    Veal: case closed.

    Mario Batali is quite the chef and his cookbooks are chick-seduction 101.

    That fat fuck's recipes always require something esoteric and virtually impossible to get. I CAN'T GET FRESH FIGS, MARIO. I WISH I COULD. THIS ISN'T ITALY OR SPAIN.

    He is a great chef, though.

  • Mad Max||

    'Bad ethics, bad science. Business as usual. Why are you so passionate when it comes to the realm of reproductivity?'

    I suppose I have this arbitrary, irrational prejudice to the effect that human life is valuable.

    Are you saying that the Cory Maye case is *not* business as usual? That it's the *only* case of an innocent person being railroaded? The phenomenon seems to be quite common, in light of the large number of DNA-based exonerations proving the innocence of people who have been tried and convicted. And there are doubtless many cases of innocent people who can't use DNA to prove their innocence, because there isn't DNA available.

    Why, then, are you so passionate when it comes to the issue of criminal justice?

  • ktc2||

    Another Chapman failure.

  • jester||

    MadMax,

    You can protest all you please. I just won't join in.

    It's not an abuse, it's a world-view issue.

    Now, if the government is trying to force abortion on you and yours and you haven't raped your daughter/step-daughter/etc., I will join you on your lawn with a gun.

    peace

  • Mad Max||

    Talk about bad ethics and bad science - the recent 'revelations' about bogus pseudoscientific 'expert testimony' in criminal cases show that this sort of thing is 'business as usual.' By your logic, then, you shouldn't be indignant about it.

  • Down with the Sickness||

    Jesster is correct. Life doesn't become human for many years after birth. In some cases, life does not become human ever. You should be able to kill non human life when ever you want.

  • ||

    I'm sorry, I just can't get too worked up about this one. The idea that an embryo is not a sentient entity that can feel pain is not simply a scientific truth, but has philosophical ramifications. Personally, I can justify sacrificing that in the name of reducing human suffering.

    Sure, it's a touchy area that we shouldn't just bulldoze over, but consulting with scientists to decide how best to approach the stem cell issue is not at all inappropriate.

  • Mad Max||

    'Now, if the government is trying to force abortion on you and yours and you haven't raped your daughter/step-daughter/etc., I will join you on your lawn with a gun.'

    Those who incestously impregnate their daughters and stepdaughters tend to be the ones demanding abortion. Why would an abuser try to force an incriminating childbirth on his victim? The evidence indicates otherwise.

    this book, which is reviewed in this article, shows based on interviews with incest victims that the abusers are not exactly demanding that the victim carry the child to term. From the review:

    'For victims of incest the case is even stronger (and, of course, incest is often just a particular form of rape). For these girls, pregnancy can represent their only hope to get out of the abusive situation. They may have been threatened and beaten; they may have been told, for example, "If you tell Mommy, I'll kill her." But the girl knows that if she gets pregnant someone will have to see her plight and rescue her. To such a girl, pregnancy is not the problem; incest is the problem, and pregnancy may be the solution. Reardon writes, "Unlike pregnancies resulting from rape, most incest pregnancies are actually desired, at least at a subconscious level, in order to expose the incest."

    'Reardon found that in virtually every case of pregnancy following incest, the abortion was not the girl's decision. "In several cases, the abortion was carried out over the objections of the girl who clearly told others that she wanted to give birth to her child." Instead, the abortion was planned by adults in her life, and frequently - for obvious reasons - by the perpetrator himself. Abortion turns out to be a great way to destroy evidence. It's the best friend a sexual abuser has. And you'd be surprised how many people don't ask any questions.'

  • jester||

    Cory Maye is a metaphor in this instance. He deserves better than that, of course. God Bless you that you knew the reference!

    Your reverence for life is simply your reverence for life. I don't think of you any less for that. It's where your brain is. Good for you.

    We cannot save all the spermatozoa, all the ova, all the zygotes, all the fully-fingered embryo, all the fully birthed for that matter.

    That's not the issue. The issue is that you live your own moral life. If you wish to spend it on the unfully formed, God bless, that's your path.

    I bring up Cory because he's fully formed and in need of campaign. Raw deal all the way. Pisses us all off.

    No grudge match per se, I just have a different path. Different priorites. God bless you.

    But reciprocaly, let me go my way

  • ||

    Max, everyone knows that incest is best.

  • Mad Max||

    'Sure, it's a touchy area that we shouldn't just bulldoze over, but consulting with scientists to decide how best to approach the stem cell issue is not at all inappropriate.'

    The 'consultation' in this case included a very prominent scientist accepting the exaggerations about the benefits of embryonic stem-cell research on the grounds that the public needed a 'fairy tale.'

    For some reason, organized science was willing to overlook the hype and hysteria promoting what they believed (correctly) to be vastly exaggerated promises of benefits from embryonic stem cell research. Why is that, I wonder? Could it be that there were research dollars in them thar hills?

    If you're going to consult someone on whether to give them money, guess what their conclusion will be?

    The recent breakthroughs in stem-cell research have come from pluripotent stem cells, which are *not* created from the destruction of embryos. As the First Things article I linked to above shows, the pro-aborts suddenly dropped their rhetoric about the great scientific promise of embryonic stem cells once it was clear that the progress was coming from pluripotent cells.

    I suppose it's possible that future scientific breakthroughs can come from unethical research like harvesting embryos from their stem cells. But the vast breakthroughs promised by the pro-aborts in the past haven't transpired, even though the 'expert' scientists tolerated the vastly exaggerated predictions.

  • Mad Max||

    jester,

    By all means, thank you for your concern about Cory Maye.

    'We cannot save all the spermatozoa, all the ova, all the zygotes, all the fully-fingered embryo, all the fully birthed for that matter.'

    You are right. We cannot save all the fully formed - people like Mr. Maye. But we can still complain and try to work for justice, even if we don't always win.

  • ||

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!

    THE STUPID! It burnz!

  • jester||

    Of course, what you say is true (creepy family situations). It's what most people don't get about late-term abortion. They always think: Why did you wait so long?

    It's also the erroneous belief of the morning-after pill as the panacea.

    What they don't understand is that the pathetic kind of rape we have discussed is the kind that has gone on since some of us evacuated caves for better digs.

    The sacredness of life is a personal issue. You feel every human life is sacred from...I won't put words in your mouth. Others take that another step and declare all life sacred. I won't go into the contradictions but my posts in the future if not in the past may definitely snark on this point.

    I understand your viewpoint. I don't consider you disingenuous. I simply disagree.

  • jester||

    Epi,

    fortunately osso bucco is on the menu this month. And since stewardesses can't overcook it, it's awesome.

  • ||

    @Max: Okay so are we talking about scientific impropriety here? Which "very prominent scientist" encouraged the dissemination of a "fairy tale"? I didn't see anything about that in this article, but if that's what is going on, it's an entirely different sort of ethical quandary.

    To be clear, I realize that scientists can and do manipulate their research to gain increased funding. This is rampant in the area of "green" technology. Still though, like I said, this article makes no mention of that. It does not challenge the scientific integrity of the statements being made by the scientists, just the weight with which those statements should be taken into consideration by the government.

    Which brings me to my original point. Assuming their opinions are formed with scientific integrity and not a desire for research funds, I see no problem with consulting with scientists on issues of medical policy.

  • ||

    jester, osso bucco is OK. I prefer vitello tonnato. Veal + tuna = WIN.

  • Evan||

    "But we may lose something even more vital."
    Stevie C, can you be more explicit or is this just a lazy rhetorical flourish to cover for your lack of actual ideas?

    I'm eagerly awaiting the follow-up - take me down that slippery slope.

  • ||

    Until I see the anti-embryonic stem cell folks start wanting to shut down IVF clinics until they can ensure that no embryo will ever be destroyed - and they find enough wombs to ensure that every single IVF created embryo will be born - until then - it is all just so much hot air from that group...

  • The Angry Optimist||

    he stem-cell crusaders are not only doing bad ethics

    Begging the question. What is "bad" about the ethics of this kind of stem-cell research?

  • ||

    Of course I agree with Chapman on this issue, but seriously?! I wrote essentially this same article ten times in various thread-arguments with Ron Bailey, and I'm just a lowly amateur.

  • ||

    Rob,

    Until anti-drug-war types find (and finance) a way for every heroin and cocaine addict to break the habit, their rhetoric is just hot air too.

    How bout them apples?

  • MNG||

    Oh Lord.

    Look Max, for a lot of rational people it's just not obvious that an embryo that can fit on my thumb is a human being with all the protections that this would entail.

    And for those disagreeing with Max, you have to see that for people like him, who think that messing with those things that could fit on your thumb is equivalent to some evil Nazi experiment/Holocaust, so that's why he's so into it.

    Max's thing is "can't you see that this is problematic?" And then his view is one that its not problematic at all, it all breaks his way...

    Sheesh

  • The Angry Optimist||

    agree with him? he didn't SAY anything!

    I feel like a combination of Warren and the little boy saying that the Emperor has No Point.

  • ||

    Now, if the government is trying to force abortion on you and yours and you haven't raped your daughter/step-daughter/etc., I will join you on your lawn with a gun.

    And I suppose since I'm white, it's none of my business if the government refuses to prosecute people who murder blacks.

    The whole "live and let live" philosophy, while extremely useful in many areas of human endeavor, breaks down when "letting live" means "letting kill".

  • MNG||

    I get pro-life people think mass murder is going on all around us, and I get that IF any person thought that was what was going on then it should be the biggest issue in the world right now.

    What I don't get is how someone like Max can't see why and how the majority of rational people in this nation don't see destruction of a human embryo as the equivalent of murder.

    I mean, a human embryo near conception is so different from a "fully formed" and birthed human being that it might strike one as obvious why folks would not equate the two at all (though of course there may be, upon closer inspection, some similiarity of great moral relevance, at least acknowledge that this is only going to occur under some pretty serious inspection of the issue)

  • ||

    MNG, I suppose a "rational" person would believe that passing through the vaginal opening transforms a nonhuman lump of cells with no rights whatsoever, subject to being salinized and dismembered at the mother's whim, into a human being with the full gamut of rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What, is there faerie dust in vaginas?

    You're going to have to believe something counterintuitive on this issue. At least make it something that's logically defensible.

  • ||

    What I don't get is how someone like Max can't see why and how the majority of rational people in this nation don't see destruction of a human embryo as the equivalent of murder.

    A majority of rational Europeans and white Americans didn't see slavery as a violation of Africans' rights.

  • ||

    I don't think pro-lifers are all that serious. If they think every abortion is the same as a murder of a newborn baby, and 3 million baby murders are happening every year right out in the open under the watchful eye of govt and the people, they would be marching in the streets every day, real physical battles would be happening every day everywhere until the "war" to end baby murders was over, and people wouldn't sleep at night knowing somewhere babies are being killed en masse.

    It just doesn't happen, because they're not that serious.

    "I can't stand by and let babies be mur...ooh, Idol's on!"

  • ||

    @crimethink: Regarding your drug war statement about financing addiction/recovery.

    I don't think legalizing drugs automatically obligates us to support the habits and recovery attempts of junkies. I don't want to be supporting an alcoholic any more than I want to be supporting a heroin addict.

    Just because something is legal doesn't mean its ramifications are the burden of the taxpayer. Personal responsibility for one's actions should be encouraged at all times, which is exactly why drug prohibition is a problem in the first place.

  • ||

    Rhyader, I agree. So why must those who oppose killing unborns come up with a way to support them or else be guilty of spreading hot air?

  • ||

    A majority of rational Europeans and white Americans didn't see slavery as a violation of Africans' rights.

    Throwing around "rational" a little loosely, eh? How many truly rational people do you know. I don't know that many. I know people that do their jobs well. I know people that can stay in their lane on the highway. When I talk to people about the same issues we discuss in these forums every day, rationality is somewhere in their brain perhaps, but they don't let it out for fear of interrupting their beliefs, and pre-conceived notions of right and wrong.

    I have had two ongoing discussions with a couple friends of mine for about a year, and just now is it starting to sink in that they may have been mistaken about supporting the drug war. But, not really. At the end of the day, "drugs are bad mkay."

  • ||

    Nick,

    Yeah, cause if there's one thing that will get abortion banned in this country, it's pro-lifers rioting in the streets. We know how understanding and supportive the media is when a pro-lifer engages in an act of violence, or even a mildly threatening act. No abortions would be stopped by violence, and indeed more abortions might take place due to the pro-life movement being discredited in the eyes of the Congressional jesters and the somnambulent public.

  • Brent Royal-Gordon||

    This is foolishness. Need I count the ways?

    1. Of course we don't ask bankers or defense contractors to set their own regulations. But we *do* consult them when we're setting up those regulations, and if they say "this part of the rules is going to have a bad effect", we at least listen and consider their argument-and if we agree, we change the rules. That's all that's happening here.

    2. There are millions of blastocysts formed every year that are never born. Most of the time, that's because they naturally failed to implant in the lining of their mother's uterus-if I recall correctly, something like 60% of embryos simply leave the woman's body during her next period. Is that smear on a tampon a human being?

    3. Thousands more are created during IVF procedures and not implanted. Are those human beings too? Don't they have a right to life too? Should we force every mother who uses a fertility clinic to have octuplets like that woman in California? Or perhaps we should press-gang other women into carrying the spares to term?

    4. Even so, clearly this is an area where reasonable people can disagree. As devotees of "free minds and free markets", that means we should step aside and let individuals decide what to do based on their own moral standards, rather than imposing restrictive regulations from on high.

    Obama is doing a lot of horrible things, but somehow you always seem to pick his good moves to criticize. Are you subtly trying to convince us to like him or something?

    And Reason, why the hell are you giving this neocon statist a platform? Please chuck his future articles in the circular file and fire him at the first opportunity.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    You're going to have to believe something counterintuitive on this issue.

    Not really. I believe that, absent a threat to the life of the mother, abortion should be permitted only until the higher brainwaves present in humans and not present in nonhuman animals are detectable. Humans are set apart from the lower species by means of their ability to reason...ergo, when the formation of that special capacity begins, you know have a human, distinguishable from the nonhuman animals we kill for food, sport and clothes.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    oh yeah, crimethink, you can think of it as "impractical", but if 3 million actual murders, on the level of the Holocaust your compatriots claim it is, then you could do nothing BUT commit acts as the Fetus Liberation Front.

    I'd at least respect you guys for that...if it is a holocaust, you're justified to use the full range of tactics to stop it, including killing the perpetrators.

  • ||

    if I recall correctly, something like 60% of embryos simply leave the woman's body during her next period. Is that smear on a tampon a human being?

    A dead human being at that point, to be precise, but yes. Read my post above about the pro-choice belief in vaginal faerie dust if you think you don't believe something counterintuitive too.

    Thousands more are created during IVF procedures and not implanted. Are those human beings too?

    yes. Which is why I and the Catholic Church oppose IVF.

    Should we force every mother who uses a fertility clinic to have octuplets like that woman in California?

    This is a tricky moral issue. The deal with abortion is that, if everything is left alone, in all likelihood the unborn will continue to develop and be born. Whereas, with an embryo in a test tube, leaving things alone causes it to die. So in the case of abortion (and ESCR for that matter), it is a positive act that destroys the embryo, and we must oppose that; while in the case of "spare embryos" it would take a positive act to save it, and we cannot require that.

    Or perhaps we should press-gang other women into carrying the spares to term?

    There are examples of women carrying unwanted embryos to term, but it's not something that should be coerced for similar reasons to the above.

  • ||

    TAO,

    So, if you're a shopkeeper living down the street from Auschwitz, and you're horrified by the stuff going on in there, you must grab a shotgun and charge the nearest gate into the camp -- or else shut the fuck up about it?

    Seriously, by the standards you guys are holding pro-lifers to, Radley Balko needs to STFU about the drug war cause he's not doing anything about it besides complaining.

  • ||

    Pretty much what TAO said. I would be right there with you. If 3 million newborn babies were being summarily executed in broad daylight every year, 100 million adults would battle in bloody street fights every day until it was stopped. Pro-lifers are either dishonest in their verbiage and rhetoric or they are millions upon millions of castrated pussies who don't deserve so much as a seat at the discussion. I think it's the former.

  • ||

    @crimethink: Oh ok yeah fair enough, now I see where you're coming from. I guess the assumption is that if we take the view of what is commonly called a "pro-lifer", failing to preserve life is as bad as taking life.

    I'm not saying I agree with that assumption, or think that all "pro-lifers" feel that way. My guess though is that Rob considers it hypocrisy to object to the taking of a life while failing to preserve other lives.

  • ||

    if it is a holocaust, you're justified to use the full range of tactics to stop it, including killing the perpetrators.

    The point I was trying to make above is that such actions would actually make the situation worse. A "Fetus Liberation Front" as you derisively label it would not stop a single abortion and would discredit the entire pro-life movement. You think Eric Rudolph's actions saved any unborns? I sure as hell don't.

  • ||

    So, if you're a shopkeeper living down the street from Auschwitz, and you're horrified by the stuff going on in there, you must grab a shotgun and charge the nearest gate into the camp -- or else shut the fuck up about it?

    Wouldn't you? How could you sleep knowing people are being killed like that right under your nose? Making a few calls and holding a sign in front of the camp isn't changing the situation, so you just go home? Wow.

  • Brent Royal-Gordon||

    Read my post above about the pro-choice belief in vaginal faerie dust if you think you don't believe something counterintuitive too.

    I don't believe in vaginal fairy dust. I believe that an embryo in your womb is equivalent to a guest in your home: you have every right to kick him out at any time, but an obligation to do it in the least harmful way you can. Based on that, I would place the abortion cut-off at the point when the child could survive outside the womb; if you want to end the pregnancy beyond that point, it should be by inducing labor and giving the child up for adoption (assuming the mother's health allows it).

  • ||

    @Nick: While I am not anti-abortion really, crimethink has a point here. The way to react to injustice is not to launch a personal violent rampage. One should instead discuss the issue and explore official avenues through which he may change government policy.

    The "do something or shut up" approach doesn't really make sense in a system like ours. The whole point is to discuss and enact official change, not to encourage vigilantism and violence.

  • Jennifer||

    So, if you're a shopkeeper living down the street from Auschwitz, and you're horrified by the stuff going on in there, you must grab a shotgun and charge the nearest gate into the camp -- or else shut the fuck up about it?

    No, but I'd raise an eyebrow at anyone who said "Killing these Nazi murderers clearly isn't the way to bring about change, and is likely immoral besides. We should rely upon letter-writing and bumper stickers."

  • ||

    If you guys are reading anything more into this article than "Maybe the issue is too complicated for any person or government to issue laws about", then you are reading too much into it.

  • ||

    @Butts: Yeah that's a good point, although I don't think the government should shy away from an issue simply because it is complicated.

  • Mad Max||

    Rhayader,

    Ron McKay, of the National Institutes of Health. It's in the article.

  • ||

    Ryahder, I never meant to suggest that if you don't go Rambo on a Nazi then you should shut up. What I mean is that if I know thousands of people a day are being killed next door to me, the first thing I want to know is what were their crimes? The instant I find out their crime was Judaism or Being-Born, I'd immediately demand the government to cease operations, gather as many others as I could to also demand it, and if no action is taken, then I would be at war against them. This might take 24-48 hours but I don't go home and watch Survivor while I wait for the government to call me back. That is why I say the pro-lifers are being dishonest in their holocaust rhetoric or they are are not fighting the battle with enough vigor.

    Btw, I'm not a pure pro-choice or pro-lifer. Frankly, I don't know what is right or wrong, only that the pro-lifer's action is weak relative to their argument.

  • ||

    I can't help it. Part of me cheered Obama's decision just because I know how much it will piss off the fundies.

  • ||

    @Nick: Yeah fair enough, although there are plenty of issues I feel passionate about, like the drug war (which is causing real suffering, harm, and death). I still find time to hang out and watch a ball game.

    @Max:I don't see the name McKay anywhere in the article; ctrl+F found nothing. In fact, I don't see any scientist mentioned by name, or any specific scientific finding that is being questioned. We are talking about Steve Chapman's article, right?

  • ||

    Can I ask a practical question disguised in ludicrous garb?

    If there are a million embryos in a flask on the right, and my cat on the left, and the Nazis bust in and say "You vill CHOOZE!" what am I going to say?

    The same thing 90+% of the population will say.

    In the real world, nobody bedsides religious k00ks care about embryos. If Steve wants to tell me we should, fine. But we don't, and I am perfectly fine with that, I really doubt it is going to change that much socially, either.

    We are going to play God because either (i) there is nobody to do so, or (ii) if there is somebody to do so, he/she/it has done a singularly shitty job of doing so.

  • MNG||

    Crimethink
    Sort of what TAO said. There are all sorts of ways to identify the morally relevant characteristics that would accord something like the set of protections we think humans deserve (or even a lower set, i.e. we don't give infants the right to vote or drive a car for example). And they need not be counterintuitive. I don't anyone who thinks those rights come with passing through the vagina. They think it comes with things like sentience, capactiy to reason or exercise autonomy or to feel pain and the like.

    When you look at something the size of an bug you can kind of tell that many of the important things, a spinal cord, a developed neural network, brain, etc., are probably not there in the same way they are in a "fully formed" human.

    As to the slavery/race thing, I think what made slavery so untenable to so many, even though they could benefit from it, was that if you look at a black and white man you see all the important things (brains, spinal cords, equivalent neural capacity, heck, even speech, reasoning, etc). It was counterintiutive to look at that and see enough startling difference to warrant different moral treatment. Likewise it would be counterintuitive to look at a newly formed embryo and say "yup, that thing is a human being with most of teh rights I have!" The differences there are, well, enormous.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Nick and I are in total agreement. The irony is that the professed passion of pro-lifers is patently dispassionate. Shit, even the Civil Rights Movement didn't stop in the face of beatings, dogs and fire hoses. If the pro-lifers really felt that there were factory murderhouses in every Planned Parenthood, I would expect them to stage sit-ins at least.

  • MNG||

    My own opinion is that the Roe court's opinion, while perhaps not the best law, nailed this as a moral issue. The closer to conception it is, the less rights should be seen as accorded to the embryo, the closer to viability, the more.

  • ||

    TAO -- Right now, email Radley Balko and ask him what sit-ins, protests, and acts of retribution he is participating in against drug warriors. And tell him if the answer is none of the above, then you can't take his articles seriously anymore.

  • ||

    Yeah crimethink is right here guys. The absence of non-stop fanaticism is not an indication that one's ideas should be ignored, or are somehow less worthy. In fact, I would say an ability to take things in stride and to keep a sense of perspective lends legitimacy to one's line of reasoning.

  • ||

    Nick | March 12, 2009, 10:03am | #

    Pretty much what TAO said. I would be right there with you. If 3 million newborn babies were being summarily executed in broad daylight every year, 100 million adults would battle in bloody street fights every day until it was stopped.


    If only peoples moral outrage were so strong. sadly most people would do nothing even in the face of mass murder. They'd probably hide in their houses. That said, the comparison to abortion is a huge stretch for me.

  • ||

    I don't anyone who thinks those rights come with passing through the vagina.

    That's the current state of the law, dude. Obviously somebody thinks so. And if you think sentience is the necessary criterion for rights you must ipso facto support infanticide too.

    The closer to conception it is, the less rights should be seen as accorded to the embryo, the closer to viability, the more.

    The Roe decision, together with the later Doe v Bolton decision, ensured that there would be ZERO rights for the fetus until after birth. In Stenberg v Carhart the SCOTUS ruled that even immediately before birth the fetus has no rights, and thus partial birth abortion could not be illegalized.

  • ||

    I think crimethinks point is valid, though it exagerates the facts quite a bit. Radley can't be expected to be as passionate about smoking pot as a pro-lifer is expected to be about what they see as mass murder. Mass Murder > no knock raid, therefore, pro-lifers should be more active in opposition. Radley does a lot, at the end of the day, much more than any pro-lifers I know.

  • ||

    I believe that an embryo in your womb is equivalent to a guest in your home: you have every right to kick him out at any time, but an obligation to do it in the least harmful way you can.

    This isn't the best analogy, since it's hard to imagine a case where the only way to get an innocent person out of your home is by killing them. One good analogy is if you're sailing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and, in the sky above, a plane explodes and the pilot ejects, and lucky for him he lands on your boat rather than on the ocean.

    Do your property rights give you the right to throw him overboard, which will necessarily entail his death?

  • ||

    Do your property rights give you the right to throw him overboard, which will necessarily entail his death?

    While I would say no, I expect several people here to say it would...

  • ||

    domo,

    There are a lot of Radley's articles that relate the story of an innocent person being killed in these raids, or related incidents. What about Kathryn Johnston? What about that guy in Jacksonville who was gunned down by undercover cops who were selling drugs on his property?

    How come Radley hasn't tracked down those responsible and exacted retribution? I'll tell you why -- because it would do more harm than good.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    look, crimethink, the War on Some Drugs is bad, bad juju, there's no disputing that, but the pro-life movement can safely say they have millions, somewhere north of 10-20 million, probably, that absolutely believe that murder is taking place in slaughterhouses across the United States every. single. day.

    Murder...systematic, Holocaust-style cattlecar murder. Come on now.

    The Drug War sits, for most people, somewhere between "benign regulation of harmful substances" and "wrong-headed policy that is repugnant mainly from a utilitarian POV". The pro-life movement is hoisted by its own petard of hyperbole and rhetoric.

    I just see the hypocrisy: if your movement really, really believed that 2 million murders systematically occurred every year, you would do a whole, whole lot more. It's just that simple.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Do your property rights give you the right to throw him overboard, which will necessarily entail his death?

    No, but if he's swamping the boat...

    Of course, your hypothetical begs the question, because the question in dispute is whether fetus = pilot.

  • ||

    was that if you look at a black and white man you see all the important things (brains, spinal cords, equivalent neural capacity, heck, even speech, reasoning, etc). It was counterintiutive to look at that and see enough startling difference to warrant different moral treatment.

    Counterintuitive to you (and me) -- clearly not counterintuitive to people at that time. Immanuel Kant, for instance, was one of the sharpest minds humanity has ever known, but he wrote some of the most horribly racist drivel I've ever seen. Don't make the mistake of thinking that we enlightened dwellers of 2009 are now completely free of prejudice in all its forms.

  • ||

    How come Radley hasn't tracked down those responsible and exacted retribution? I'll tell you why -- because it would do more harm than good.

    Well, ok, but I didn't suggest they commit violence in return. Just that they show the same amount of outrage that Radley has. Most of the pro-life community doesn't even meet this bar. Even though the harms they posit are many orders of magnitude greater.

  • Mad Max||

    Folks here are denouncing pro-lifers for not being violent. This is very bizarre, but it's certainly a more honest discussion than the usual pro-abortion rhetoric.

    The posters here admit that pro-lifers aren't a bunch of violent terrorists, and use that very fact as an indictment of the prolife movement. In contrast, the standard pro-abortion talking point on pro-lifers is that they're just a step away from becoming bombers like Eric Rudolph. I'm glad that the pro-aborts here are admitting that this charge is a lie.

    When I founded a pro-life club at my law school, the pro-aborts ran to the campus police with a false report that I'd written something on a blackboard supporting the Second Amendment (a very serious charge at an institution of higher learning, believe me). They also prosecuted the president of my group on false charges of making threats to them.

    There's nothing the pro-aborts would like more than for the pro-lifers to actually live up to the false image of violent terrorists. It would bolster public support for abortion, and allow for the repression and incapacitation of the prolife leaders and potential leaders - the very thing the pro-aborts want.

    Sadly for the pro-aborts, the pro-lifers are, this Lent, doing *peaceful* vigils outside abortion clinics as part of the 40 days for Life initiative. Planned Parenthood has responded to this with panicked letters to their supporters about how the demonstrators' peaceful witness has been driving away business, and they're trying to discourage protesters by having pro-aborts donate to Planned Parenthood in protesters' names. And Planned Parenthood is right to be nervous, given the number of women who have told the demonstrators that they decided against having abortions after seeing the peaceful witness and prayer outside the clinics.

    Of course we want to use force against those who commit abortion - we want to restore legal protection to the unborn, which would mean arresting, prosecuting and punishing those who do abortions.

    Is vigilantism acceptable against murderers, whether of the preborn or of the postborn? No, according to Saint Thomas Aquinas - 'Now the care of the common good is entrusted to persons of rank having public authority: wherefore they alone, and not private individuals, can lawfully put evildoers to death.'

    But what did Saint Thomas know? He obviously wasn't morally serious.

    Maybe the prolifers ought to advocate revolutionary violence - that is, finding the proabortion government so oppressive as to justify overthrowing said government? That would require meeting the conditions for a just revolution, which are similar to the standards for a just war among nations - just cause, last resort, proportionality, reasonable likelihood of success. I don't see that we've run out of peaceful options, so I don't think it's a last result. As to reasonable likelihood of success, I don't see that, either - I see the triumph of the pro-aborts, aligned as they will be with the full repressive force of the state, and the defeat, imprisonment, or death of lots of prolifers.

    It's understandable that pro-aborts would want to defeat, imprison or kill lots of prolifers, but it's not so clear why the prolifers would want to encourage such results.

  • ||

    TAO,

    The stuff you're proposing that the pro-life movement do would backfire terribly. What is so ridiculous about this conversation is that I'm being told I must act by the very people who would be waving the bloody shirt and saying something had to be done about the doctor-killers if I did act as they say I must. It's a fool's errand and I'm not fool enough to take the bait.

  • Mad Max||

    last resort, not last result

  • ||

    Of course, your hypothetical begs the question, because the question in dispute is whether fetus = pilot.

    Well it was in response to Brent's assertion that, even if the fetus is a human being it has the same status as a house guest, and can be kicked out at any time. So the sidebar we were having was supposing that the fetus is a person.

    Obviously that doesn't settle the issue because some others don't believe the fetus is a person; I was just defending from Brent's attempt to make an end run around that issue.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    I'm being told I must act by the very people who would be waving the bloody shirt and saying something had to be done about the doctor-killers if I did act as they say I must.

    That's exactly right. I would advocate your imprisonment and vigorous prosecution for you if you were to kill doctors. That's because I think you're wrong.

    However, that being said, the logical end of the line of belief of pro-lifers should equate me with Bull Connor or Heinrich Himmler for doing so.

    Seriously, you can't even organize a sit-in? Deeply unserious hippies and the SDS managed to do it.

  • ||

    Sorry Max, I agree with you, but ixnay on the citing Aquinas in the middle of an abortion argument. He also wrote that abortion was fine and dandy until forty days after conception. (He can be forgiven for this because he was working with 12th century biology that taught that semen was literally "human seed" that just lodged in the womb sucking nutrition from the mother's body. It wasn't until the 1700s that an Italian scientist discovered the actual process of conception -- wherein a new being is created when sperm and ovum join -- and the Church shifted its policies to accommodate the new knowledge)

  • ||

    Is vigilantism acceptable against murderers, whether of the preborn or of the postborn? No, according to Saint Thomas Aquinas - 'Now the care of the common good is entrusted to persons of rank having public authority: wherefore they alone, and not private individuals, can lawfully put evildoers to death.'

    I think many here would agree that a government that murders it's own people is illegitimate and subject to revolution. Even if the government is merely failing to protect the right to life of a massive portion of the populace. We fought a civil war over less.

  • ||

    I suppose the question I should be asking, TAO, is whether you think any of the actions you advocate would stop a single abortion.

    If not, then you're telling me that to be taken seriously, I must do something that accomplishes nothing to advance my cause, and indeed probably sets it back, along with resulting in severe punishment for me. Yeah, that's a totally honest argument.

  • Mad Max||

    '@Max:I don't see the name McKay anywhere in the article; ctrl+F found nothing. In fact, I don't see any scientist mentioned by name, or any specific scientific finding that is being questioned. We are talking about Steve Chapman's article, right?'

    We're talking about this article. Click here to see where I linked to the article earlier in the thread, and click here to see me refer to the article again.

  • ||

    It wasn't until the 1700s that an Italian scientist discovered the actual process of conception -- wherein a new being is created when sperm and ovum join -- and the Church shifted its policies to accommodate the new knowledge

    Notably more than 200 years before they apologized to Galileo...

  • The Angry Optimist||

    of course I do. If you had a sit-in at Planned Parenthood, you would at least effectively shut them down until the police removed you. And imagine that would look like...television cameras focused on your group as the police try to drag 50-60 of you out of a clinic. It's this exact kind of imagery that came out of the South that turned the tide of public opinion.

    Regardless, shutting down a Planned Parenthood for the day certainly would stop abortions at that location. You saved lives!

  • ||

    Hey Max, I am not objecting to your most recent post, it seems rational and measured. Still though, I would like to get back to what you and I were discussing before: the basic claim by this article that scientists should not be consulted in matters like this.

    I have two points here. The first is that the article makes absolutely no mention of any problems involving scientific integrity. From what I can tell from Chapman's article, he does not dispute the actual findings regarding potential applications of embryonic stem cells in any way. Please feel free to point out anything in the article indicating otherwise.

    My second point is that, assuming that the scientific consultants are acting with academic integrity, it is not inappropriate to consult with medical experts when debating medical policy. In fact, I think it would be irrational for a bunch of politicians to be making laws without consulting experts in the relevant fields.

    Responses?

  • ||

    Okay, I must have posted that while you were writing back to me about it. My bad.

    I think it is valid to question the scientific integrity of the consultants involved. If they are truly manipulating results and information in order to obtain more funding, that should be uncovered and their advice should be discounted. Is there any proof that this is the case with Obama's activities discussed in Chapman's article?

    If not, I see no problem with consulting with scientists. In other words, I have an ethical problem with a scientist faking data, but not with the government consulting with scientists regarding stem cells.

  • ||

    TAO,

    Operation Rescue tried similar tactics in the 1980s and they did nothing to shift public opinion in favor of pro-lifers -- indeed they provided fodder for the media and pro-choice forces to paint pro-lifers as dangerous zealots -- and to say the least these protests backfired miserably. These resulted in the FACE act which carries severe penalties for blocking a clinic entrance, and also judges will generally impose a restraining order barring chronic protesters from getting within 1000 feet of a clinic entrance, again with stiff penalties for violations.

  • ||

    And you're not going to stop any abortions by blocking an entrance. At most you'll force them to reschedule.

  • ||

    The posters here admit that pro-lifers aren't a bunch of violent terrorists, and use that very fact as an indictment of the prolife movement. In contrast, the standard pro-abortion talking point on pro-lifers is that they're just a step away from becoming bombers like Eric Rudolph. I'm glad that the pro-aborts here are admitting that this charge is a lie.



    No, they're just practicing the doublethink they excel at in so many other areas.

  • Mad Max||

    'Seriously, you can't even organize a sit-in? Deeply unserious hippies and the SDS managed to do it.'

    First we're not serious enough, then we're not unserious enough.

    Crimethink, with all due respect, and with all due appreciation for your battling for life on this forum, I think you've been suckered in by Nancy Pelosi-style theologizing. The teachings and the teachers of the Church (including Thomas Aquinas) have always opposed abortion, even before we had full scientific knowledge of fetal development.

    Last year, a statement of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops refuted this sort of mistaken theology:

    In the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas made extensive use of Aristotle's thought, including his theory that the rational human soul is not present in the first few weeks of pregnancy. But he also rejected abortion as gravely wrong at every stage, observing that it is a sin "against nature" to reject God's gift of a new life.

  • hotsauce||

    when the formation of that special capacity begins, you know have a human, distinguishable from the nonhuman animals we kill for food, sport and clothes



    Is this a Clintonian use of the word "begins"? It begins at conception, TAO. Or maybe you meant to say "fully-formed" or some other variant.

  • Mad Max||

    'I see no problem with consulting with scientists.'

    Neither do I. The government has not only the right, but the duty, to receive the opinions of everyone with an opinion on a subject - that's what the First Amendment is all about, with its guarantee of the right of the people to petition for a redress of grievances.

  • ||

    Notably more than 200 years before they apologized to Galileo...

    Galileo's theory (or more precisely, his version of Copernicus' theory) was wrong. It did not fit the observed data as well as the Ptolemaic system did. That is why he was silenced. (Kepler figured out where the Copernican system had gone wrong some time later, and it is HIS model of the solar system we believe in today, not Copernicus' or Galileo's)

    Not the best policy I agree, but painting it as a simple picture of dogma vs. science is seriously wrong.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    oh, look who's getting sand in his vagina.

    the fact is, is that in your view, there are tens of thousands of murder happening in this country every day, as simple and as efficient as the cattlecars of Nazi Germany, and the pro-life movement can barely have the nuts to even have a peaceful, organized sit-in at a Planned Parenthood. It's weak sauce.

    And you're not going to stop any abortions by blocking an entrance. At most you'll force them to reschedule.

    Not if you did it every day.

    you guys can come up with all of the "pragmatic" rationales you want, but if I fervently believed we were committing a Holocaust+ every. single. day. I would muster a little bit more outrage than the current movement exhibits.

  • ||

    Is Reason now taking contributions from the religious right? What's going on here?

    I fail to see any problem using a fertilized egg for science and Chapman's lame attempt at a slippery slope argument does nothing to change my perspective. Someday *if* that embryo had been implanted in a woman it *might* also have believed in the easter bunny or the tooth fairy or looked cute in a tutu at a school play, so what?

    This article is pandering to religious conservatives and seems out of place at Reason.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Or maybe you meant to say "fully-formed" or some other variant.

    I meant to say that the sign of the first uniquely human brainwave should be the bright line.

  • ||

    Mad Max,

    You are correct, I miswrote. However Aquinas certainly did not see abortion as being akin to murder as he did not consider the "human seed" to be a human being until forty days had passed.

    There's plenty of other stuff Aquinas was utterly mistaken on (executing heretics, charging interest on loans, the Immaculate Conception, etc) so I have no trouble dismissing him on this. His teachings are not Magisterial.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    First we're not serious enough, then we're not unserious enough.


    Where did I say that? I am saying that your lack of action in the face of Baby Holocaust undermines your professed passions.

  • ||

    Not if you did it every day

    What about the days I'm in jail? How many days do you think it will take before PP has armed guards 500 feet from the perimeter of the entrance? Forget that, how many days before there's riot police surrounding the property?

    And what am I supposed to do then? Kill some cops so I can sit at the entrance?

    Seriously, TAO, you're generally a reasonable person. I'm surprised you're being so unreasonable here.

  • Mad Max||

    'I think many here would agree that a government that murders it's own people is illegitimate and subject to revolution. Even if the government is merely failing to protect the right to life of a massive portion of the populace. We fought a civil war over less.'

    Please check the last two paragraphs of the post to which you were replying, to see why I don't think a pro-life violent revolution in this country would meet the standards for a legitimate rebellion. To summarize: nonviolent alternative means exist and there's not a reasonable chance of success.

    You are right that the American Civil War was fought 'for less' than the right to life. It was fought in response the secession of most of the slave states. That is to say, the principle upheld by the North was the illegality of secession. In the course of fighting this war, after it was obvious that a quick victory wasn't in the cards, the North found it convenient, as a war measure, to take up the antislavery banner - one of the reasons for doing this was to head off European intervention on the Confederacy's behalf.

    Yet, even with the freeing of the slaves, do you contend that this bloody war, whose appalling casualties were foreseen by few, certainly not by those who beat the war-drums loudest on both sides, was a good thing?

  • The Angry Optimist||

    I am *not* being unreasonable, I am being eminently reasonable and logical using the reasoning and logic professed by the pro-life movement.

    2 million murders a year should at least warrant something more than writing a letter to your Senator. I can tell you that if, every day, 100,000 four-year-olds were taken into buildings and terminated, I sure as hell would take up arms against this nation.

    Yes I would.

  • MNG||

    "That's the current state of the law, dude."

    That's certainly wrong, viable cesarian babies are certainly protected.

  • hotsauce||

    I meant to say that the sign of the first uniquely human brainwave should be the bright line.



    That's what I thought you meant, though there are problems with this view too. A farmer's seeds don't look like corn, or soybeans or whatever, but once they're planted the process has begun. If you dug up rows of future crops, you would be liable for their fully-developed value. Why we should subject personhood to a different standard is beyond me.

  • ||

    MNG,

    I LOLed. You have a point there, I wasn't being fair to the law. Rather, the supporters of current law may believe that faerie dust inhabits not only the vagina, but also surgical gloves.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Because crops don't rely on an entity with actual rights to live, I would say. When someone "digs up" a fetus, they're expelling it from their own soil. If you come along planting stuff in my [fictional] uterus, a property-based theory of rights would say I have the right to expel the trespasser.

  • ||

    @TAO: Again, you can feel passionate about any number of issues without launching radical action to effect change. I hate the drug war, but I am not obsessed with protesting it.

  • ||

    Blah, forgot to close my bold tag. My B.

  • ||

    2 million murders a year should at least warrant something more than writing a letter to your Senator.

    Even if that "something" is going to do more harm than good?

    I can tell you that if, every day, 100,000 four-year-olds were taken into buildings and terminated, I sure as hell would take up arms against this nation.

    And you'd have the support of virtually every American citizen. Now imagine (and note that you're inflating the numbers with every post -- less than a million abortions occur in the US every year) that most of your friends and neighbors, in addition to the entire law enforcement machinery, media, and political class, are of the opinion that it is right and just to kill these four year olds, and your attempt to prevent their murders will certainly fail, and probably make matters worse. You'd still do it?

  • ||

    Galileo's theory (or more precisely, his version of Copernicus' theory) was wrong. It did not fit the observed data as well as the Ptolemaic system did. That is why he was silenced. (Kepler figured out where the Copernican system had gone wrong some time later, and it is HIS model of the solar system we believe in today, not Copernicus' or Galileo's)

    Not the best policy I agree, but painting it as a simple picture of dogma vs. science is seriously wrong.


    No - you are completely misrepresenting this. But I'm glad you are, since my point in mentioning it was to show how dogmatic silly church policies undercut their moral authority - both on human life and orbital mechanics.

  • MNG||

    Late term abortions, where the fetus is approaching or is viable, can indeed be restricted, though a health/life of the mother must be respected. Isn't that the state of the law crimethink?

    The Bible itself did not count the fetus as a full human life. In the Old Testament it says that if two men strive and they injure a pregnant lady so that the fetus is terminated they would get a punishment much less than murder or manslaughter.

    The common law also did not think of the non-viable fetus as life.

    As to the corn thing: would anybody who saw a person eating corn seeds and approached that person and said "hey, what you doing" and that guy replied "I'm eating corn!" not think that guy was crazy?

  • Mad Max||

    'your lack of action in the face of Baby Holocaust undermines your professed passions.'

    No offense, but what Bizarro universe did you just check in from? What kind of cheese is the moon made of, in your universe?

    If you want to know if the 40 Days for Life demonstrations in front of abortion clinics are useless, why not ask one of the pro-aboriton counterdemonstrators from an earlier 40 days campaign? This guy organized counter-pickets because the 40 Days for Life people, merely by their prayerful witness, 'intimidate the clients to keep them out of the [abortion] clinic.' It seems that appealing to the consciences of pregnant women may actually bring some results (In the link, the demonstrators dressed like devils are pro-abortion counterprotesters - the pro-aborts sometimes seem beyond parody).

    In the current series of demonstrations, there are so far 109 confirmed cases of women changing their minds about abortion after encountering the peaceful witness of the 40 Days for Life protesters. And those are justs the time the woman or a friend or relative actually told the prolifers that their work had borne fruit - there's no count of women who changed their minds but didn't notify the prolifers.

    That's at least 109 babies born who would otherwise have been killed. Look these babies, and their mothers, in the eye and explain the ineffectiveness and unseriousness of the people who saved their lives.

  • MNG||

    TAO, don't go there, it's a trap.

    The question is not whether it's dependent on a life or what not, it's simply what are the characterstics that make someone deserving of recognition of the protections/rights of a human person?

    And I can't imagine what the answer would be as to how an embryo at conception would qualify...Human DNA? That would indeed be remarkable, to see religious folks engaging in such materialistic biological reductionism (that the defining thing of what it means to be a human person is DNA)...

  • MNG||

    "The common law also did not think of the non-viable fetus as life."

    I should say "as the equivalent of the life of a human person" to be more specific.

  • ||

    No - you are completely misrepresenting this.

    Well geez domo, if you say so. But I could have sworn that I recall hearing that the planets move in elliptical orbits (not the circular orbits that Galileo believed in) on the way to my physics degree.

  • MNG||

    The answer would be some characteristic like capacity for suffering, reason and/or autonomy.

    All things that a five day old human embryo would be galaxies away from. I mean, a turtle would be closer to hitting that mark.

  • ||

    I can tell you that if, every day, 100,000 four-year-olds were taken into buildings and terminated, I sure as hell would take up arms against this nation.

    Yes I would.


    My civil war point summarized. I care not to debate civil war history.

    And you'd have the support of virtually every American citizen. Now imagine ... in addition to the entire law enforcement machinery, media, and political class, are of the opinion that it is right and just to kill these four year olds, ... You'd still do it?

    But, crimethink, the thing you should be asking yourself, is WHY would killing four year olds provoke a revolution supported by nearly everyone, while abortions don't? maybe there is something else wrong with your position - think about it.

  • ||

    Late term abortions, where the fetus is approaching or is viable, can indeed be restricted, though a health/life of the mother must be respected. Isn't that the state of the law crimethink?

    That may technically be true, but the exceptions that any law must make to comply with Roe and Doe are so vast you could drive Dr. Kervorkian's van through them. One good sign of how much the law is allowed to protect the fetus during the last trimester is that there has been not a single successful prosecution for third trimester abortion (excluding PBAs) in any state since Roe.

  • MNG||

    "The common law also did not think of the non-viable fetus as life."

    My point from the beginning. It amazes me that the pro-life can't see why it is so very difficult their argument is. It's very counterintiutive. Now, maybe they are ultimately right (I doubt it), but surely if they stepped back they could see that.

  • ||

    domo,

    Your "vox populi" arguments are really tiresome. In 1800 very few people were willing to go to war to free African slaves, so by your logic the abolitionists must have been employing faulty reasoning.

    This is the point where you turn around and say "well African slaves were people, but fetuses aren't" thus completing the Circle of Pro-Choice Argumentation.

  • ||

    Well geez domo, if you say so. But I could have sworn that I recall hearing that the planets move in elliptical orbits (not the circular orbits that Galileo believed in) on the way to my physics degree.

    I think you'd have to agree getting the center right is a far bigger deal than refining the shape of the orbit. Jeez, Ptolemy proposed that planets orbited in sub-orbits creating a spiral pattern as they went around. Seriously?!

  • ||

    MNG, the common law also did not see women as capable of owning property, and indeed considered them to be property of their husbands or fathers if unmarried.

    In other words, that particular spaghetti's not going to stick to the wall. But I'm sure you'll keep throwing it, as always.

  • MNG||

    I mean, if I had two friends, both who were boiling water, and one of them held up a live turtle and said "dude, I'm going to pitch this turtle in the water to see what happens" and the other says "dude, look under this microscope at this five day old embryo, I'm going to pitch this in the water to see what happens" I'd honestly be more upset over the former.

    I mean, the turtle would be, well, visible to the naked human eye, it would have limbs, and a braid, and a system of nerves kind of like mine.

    That other thing I'd be like "huh?"

  • ||

    domo,

    Ptolemy's system fit the data better than Copernicus'. That ultimately is the test of any scientific theory. The only reason we today can look back and say that Galileo was CLOSE was because we have the benefit of knowing what the right answer is (Kepler's system, which was unknown at the time).

  • MNG||

    crimethink, I did not know you were such a relativist!

    This is no problem for my argument. People in 1800 who thought blacks did not have the morally relevant characterstics to warrant the same basic protections as whites were wrong. People today who think that embryos don't warrant this are right.

    And I've explained why.

  • ||

    Seriously, MNG, I'm not going to clean up all that spaghetti on the floor. Maybe you should slow down.

  • Brent Royal-Gordon||

    Do your property rights give you the right to throw him overboard, which will necessarily entail his death?

    Do I have the right? Yes. Would that be moral? Probably not. (If I was adrift and running out of potable water, that might be a different story.)

    The legal system is a great tool for cases where the wrong is obvious, the crime is clearly harmful, the act is definitely unethical, and the evidence is rock-solid. For anything less, it's too blunt an instrument. We have much more subtle tools, like persuasion, exclusion, and guilting, that are a better fit for gray areas, because they allow for subtle distinctions and differences of opinion.

    Far too often people forget the distinction between something being wrong and something being illegal. Not everything has to be decided in Congress or the courts; many things can be left to individuals and the people around them.

    Incidentally, I've always loved this video-an interviewer asks abortion protesters how women should be punished for having abortions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iD97OVJ4PNw

  • MNG||

    My point with the common law and the Bible verse is that heck, even in less enlightened days when religious dogma was more persuasive to more folks common sense prevented folks from thinking of killing embryos as the same as killing two year olds...

    I'm arguing two things that are seperate, though in some sense related: that pro-life arguments fly in the face of common sense and that they are also utlimately incorrect.

  • MNG||

    "Maybe you should slow down."

    Maybe you should keep up?

    I mean, I've yet to hear an argument from you on why a five day old embryo should get the kind of protections you say they should.

    What it the morally relevant characterstic they possess that would qualify them for this?

    Because white people used to think black people weren't human or some such nonsense?

  • ||

    We have much more subtle tools, like persuasion, exclusion, and guilting, that are a better fit for gray areas, because they allow for subtle distinctions and differences of opinion.

    Yeah, I'm sure our doomed pilot on the boat is going to have a lot of success with persuading the owner not to kill him. Sucks to be him I guess.

  • ||

    Your "vox populi" arguments are really tiresome. In 1800 very few people were willing to go to war to free African slaves, so by your logic the abolitionists must have been employing faulty reasoning.

    According to Max, the war wasn't fought over slavery - but that's not really important to me. My orginal point - that PROLIFERS aren't that bent out of shape over abortion (present company obviously excluded) stands. My point in making the vox populi argument is simply to state that plenty of moral thinkers do not oppose abortion. Take it or leave it, I have no hopes of convincing you, and don't care to bother, since most people support the status quo, as I do. Rather the onus is on you to make some argument that would change my mind: In my opinion, knowing more about why most people don't object as you two do might help you make that arguments, but I doubt it.

  • MNG||

    Dudes, gotta split, 1 showing of Watchmen in my future

  • OO===D||

    "What, is there faerie dust in vaginas?"

    I think so. They do feel magic.

  • AJohn||

    A worm is considered to be 1000 times more complex in their structure than the embryos they use in their stem cell research.

    There's a good reason why people don't name these 'humans' when they're still in this stage.

    The only slippery slope I see is if they banned this and IVF because they are potential humans then they may ban masturbation too! There's a lot more human potential in a single shot than in a single embryo.

  • ||

    Ptolemy's system fit the data better than Copernicus'. That ultimately is the test of any scientific theory. The only reason we today can look back and say that Galileo was CLOSE was because we have the benefit of knowing what the right answer is (Kepler's system, which was unknown at the time).

    And Kepler never would have accomplished what he did without Aristotle and Galileo before him. In any case, Ptolemy's theories matched the data because they were altered and adjusted and tweaked until they did. Hardly the hallmark of good science.

    And regardless, I pointed out the Galileo thing to show that the Church didn't retract it's obvious error until 1990. Well after Kepler, Newton, Euler, Gauss, Einstein, Feynman....

  • Doktor Unterkühlung, circa 194||

    "4. Even so, clearly this is an area where reasonable people can disagree. As devotees of "free minds and free markets", that means we should step aside and let individuals decide what to do based on their own moral standards, rather than imposing restrictive regulations from on high."

    I agree. If I want to put jooos in ice filled pools, that's my business. It's science and I'm fine with it.

  • Mad Max||

    (Disclaimer: I'm not saying prolifers are doing everything they possibly could to to stop the horror of abortion, simply that they don't meet the cartoon image presented here)

    Demonstrations, of course, aren't the only area where prolifers are working against abortion. They've managed to get laws passed which are deemed constitutional even under the current *Roe/Casey* regime. From the squealing of the pro-aborts, we can tell that many of these laws have actually saved babies.

    In Mississippi, modest restrictions requiring counseling and a 24-hour waiting period - modest enough requirements - have made some modest reductions in the abortion rate. We know this from a study by the Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood's research arm (The Impact of Mississippi's Mandatory Delay Law on the Timing of Abortion, by Ted Joyce and Robert Kaestner, Family Planning Perspectives, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Jan. - Feb., 2000), pp. 4-13).

    The abortionists themselves know that pro-lifers threaten their livelihood, i.e., take money out of their pockets by saving babies. This is confirmed by this report from the National Abortion Federation (a trade group for abortionists) about all the 'barriers' facing women who seek abortion. These barriers are blamed by the report on prolife laws, 'Clinic Violence and Disruption' (note the demagogic conflation between violence, which is rare, and 'disruption' and 'harassment,' broadly-defined terms taking in the peaceful witnessing which constitute the overwhelming majority of prolife demonstrations), plus malpractice suits against abortion doctors (again, sponsored by pro-lifers) and the cutting of taxpayer funding for abortions (thanks in large part to prolifer Henry Hyde).

    What is the result of all these 'barriers' erected by pro-lifers? From the report:

    'The most recent survey found that 88% of all U.S. counties have no identifiable abortion provider. In non-metropolitan areas, the figure rises to 97%. As a result, many women must travel long distances to reach the nearest abortion provider. . . .

    'A survey in 1998 revealed that first trimester abortion techniques are a routine part of training in only 46% of America's ob-gyn residency programs. About 34% offer this training only as an elective, and 7% provide no opportunity at all for young doctors to learn to provide safe abortions.

    'In 1996, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, the agency responsible for accrediting medical residency programs, took steps to correct this problem. It now requires ob-gyn residency programs to include family planning and abortion training for their students. It is too soon to tell whether this will result in better preparation of ob-gyns in the future to provide safe abortion services, but it is clear that doctors who do not get this training are not in a position to provide the full range of care that their patients will need.

    '. . . a 2001-2002 study by the Guttmacher Institute identified only 603 hospitals that provided abortions in 2001." This has serious implications for abortion access. Women in rural areas where there are no abortion clinics, and low-income women who depend on hospital emergency services for medical care, are left unserved when hospitals do not provide abortions. When hospitals do not offer abortions, young physicians they train have no opportunity to learn to provide safe [sic] abortions.'

    'According to Max, the [Civil] war wasn't fought over slavery'

    According to Max, the North didn't go to war because of slavery. The seceding states' motives are not what I was discussing.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    What is the result of all these 'barriers' erected by pro-lifers?

    post hoc ergo propter hoc. There are a range of reasons why abortions are down, and leaping to the idea that it's "victory" for your side is laughable "logic".

  • The Expatriate||

    Dear Ron Bailey,

    Will you please (intellectually) rip this bio-luddite a new asshole?

    Thank you.

    Sincerely,
    The Expatriate

  • ||

    Ptolemy's theories matched the data because they were altered and adjusted and tweaked until they did. Hardly the hallmark of good science.

    Uhh, actually that is exactly the hallmark of good science. Bad science would be ignoring data and stubbornly sticking to his original theory. You don't become a good scientist by ignoring data.

    The whole scientific theory is designed for hypothesis, experimentation, and then modification of hypothesis.

  • Brent Royal-Gordon||

    If I want to put jooos in ice filled pools, that's my business.

    Godwin's Law. I win.

    (Incidentally, I am a Jew. Thanks very much for trivializing the agonizing torture and bloodlust-filled murder of millions of my people who were fully aware of what was happening to them, all done for no reason except blind hatred and the political need for a scapegoat.)

  • The Angry Optimist||

    you didn't go through it, so kwitcherbitchin'. I don't find it valid when blacks talk about their people being enslaved. Draw the analogy.

    Regardless, his point, again by analogy, was that stating that this is a "private morality" problem is a non-sequitur in the face of the pro-life assertion that abortion = murder.

  • ||

    Uhh, actually that is exactly the hallmark of good science. Bad science would be ignoring data and stubbornly sticking to his original theory. You don't become a good scientist by ignoring data.

    No - good science doesn't take a theory that doesn't really work, and twist it and make excuses for it until it matches the data observed. That is called 'curve fitting' and is a hallmark of very poor science indeed. Good science doesn't explain the data, it predicts it. As measurements got better and better, it became obvious that NONE of the available theories explained the data. Predictably, the simplest, most elegant theory that required the least amount of manipulation (circles -> elipses) ended up being correct, while the massively complex theory of Ptolmaic spheres turned out to be bunk.

    In any case, why did the church take 200 years (until 1990 - I'll state it once again, because you don't seem to want to own it)to admit it's error, while apparently it was more than willing to adjust it's views on abortion based on science in the 1700's? It seems the church is as confused on what good science is as you are.

  • Banter||

    I work across the street from an abortion clinic. There are pro-lifers outside it everyday, peacefully and respectfully attempting to change women's minds as they enter the clinic. I've taken time to observe this many times.

    The clinic also provides security escorts, so apparently someone is concerned about the potential for violence.

    I have spoken to these pro-lifers (I talk to everybody. It's a sickness) and they tell me that every once in a rare while they convince a woman to change her mind.

    I like what someone said to the pro-abortion trope that abortion should be safe, legal and rare. Why rare? No one says tonsillectomies should be safe, legal and rare. If there's nothing wrong with abortion, why should we strive to make it rare? The answer of course is that as a society we (on at least a subconscious level) both sense and acknowledge that it is an undesirable thing to do.

  • ||

    The Church formally un-censured Galileo in 1990. Presumably it abandoned the Ptolemaic theory long before that.

    Since you bring up the conception thing, there is an interesting point there. The 12th-century theologian who originally formulated the idea of Mary's Immaculate Conception was denounced as a heretic by Aquinas and others at the time. As far as I know, the Church has never formally rescinded those accusations, despite the fact that his theory is now a Dogma of the Church. So it's not just an anti-science thing, it's more of a not wanting to make pointless pronouncements thing. It's not like Galileo was burning in hell until 1990 when he was suddenly shipped to heaven because of JP2's pronouncement.

  • ||

    crimethink, there is a difference between thinking drug policy is severely flawed and writing to change people's minds about it (or just preaching to the choir so THEY might do something about it) and standing by while millions of children are dispatched every year. If abortions were isolated incidents in the middle of the night by law enforcement officers and no one knew when or where they were happening until they already happened, I could agree with your comparison. But, they are carried out in far greater numbers in known locations by doctors that are largely identified against their peers. I fully understand that you wish to not go to jail, you wish to not have to put forth too much physical effort, and that you wish the law would just change without marches, mass protests every day, news stories about peaceful abortion protestors every night on TV. I get it. You're really not that serious about equating abortion with infanticide. Don't worry about it. Max knows that 109 of the potential million or more victims were saved. That's enough, right?

    Seriously, though, there are at least 30 million Americans (probably a lot more actually) who think abortion is murder. That's enough to make some serious inroads, without violence, to stop the carnage if you all got together and really cared about the victims. Just because not every American is on board, doesn't mean there aren't enough of you to really make changes. You need an MLK type leader or something to change hearts and minds.

    Max, the No Abortions for Lent thing is a good idea. I'm surprised the sit ins are not larger or in more places, though, since murder is happening all around us.

  • ||

    It's not like Galileo was burning in hell until 1990 when he was suddenly shipped to heaven because of JP2's pronouncement.

    No, he was dead...

  • ||

    But one person's dogma is another one's ethical imperative or moral principle.

    Moral principles have to be consistent. If the destruction of an embryo is truly morally repugnant, than we'd feel the same grief over discarded ones in fertility clinics and those that are miscarried--often without the mother even being aware she was pregnant--as we do the death of a child. Nobody does, and if they say they do they're lying.

    All moral beliefs are inherently biological. Nature did not endow humans with the tendency to feel grief over a discarded embryo. They do not feel pain, or anything for that matter, and at that point not much has been invested in them.

    In my opinion morality compels us to put the interest of living, breathing human beings over embryos.

  • Doktor Unterkühlung, circa 194||

    "I work across the street from an abortion clinic. There are pro-lifers outside it everyday, peacefully and respectfully attempting to change women's minds as they enter the clinic. I've taken time to observe this many times.

    The clinic also provides security escorts, so apparently someone is concerned about the potential for violence.

    I have spoken to these pro-lifers (I talk to everybody. It's a sickness) and they tell me that every once in a rare while they convince a woman to change her mind.

    I like what someone said to the pro-abortion trope that abortion should be safe, legal and rare. Why rare? No one says tonsillectomies should be safe, legal and rare. If there's nothing wrong with abortion, why should we strive to make it rare? The answer of course is that as a society we (on at least a subconscious level) both sense and acknowledge that it is an undesirable thing to do."

    Are you certain, because many people - including some Jews -- feel that the data/results from those hypothermia test should be used to advance science because it would provide at least a positive outcome from a hideous crime by advancing science and providing the concept that these Jews didn't die in vain. I'm also inclined that even some of the test victims would agree with that position as well.

  • hotsauce||

    TAO, I'm not talking about the suite of rights (if any) of the host or "it." I'm talking solely about "its" biological status. You're conflating two distinct issues.

  • ||

    @domo: Woah now, I never defended the church. I am the last guy on earth to stick up for any organized religion.

    My only point was that scientific theory always changes as new data comes in. That's the whole point. Like you said, the churches are the ones ignoring the data and sticking to their same old story.

    I see your point about forming good hypotheses; that is an indication of a good scientist. But I would much rather see a scientist admit he is wrong and make his curve fit the data, so to speak, then to stubbornly insist he is right and try to hide data that does not fit his curve.

  • Doktor Unterkühlung, circa 194||

    My browser is weird today. To clarify...


    "(Incidentally, I am a Jew. Thanks very much for trivializing the agonizing torture and bloodlust-filled murder of millions of my people who were fully aware of what was happening to them, all done for no reason except blind hatred and the political need for a scapegoat.)"

    Are you certain, because many people - including some Jews -- feel that the data/results from those hypothermia test should be used to advance science because it would provide at least a positive outcome from a hideous crime by advancing science and providing the concept that these Jews didn't die in vain. I'm also inclined that even some of the test victims would agree with that position as well.

  • Doktor Unterkühlung, circa 194||

    Jewish Law Articles

    The Ethics Of Using Medical Data From Nazi Experiments
    Baruch C. Cohen1

    http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/NaziMedEx.html

  • MarybethLavin_com||

    OPERATION CREATION
    The Eve of Man's Manipulation

    Dying for designer genes
    Trying every new pair
    Acid washed, custom made
    Branded DNA wear

    We the people have a greed
    A better breed's the answer
    Our self-enhancing power only
    Spreading like a cancer

    Scientists increase their scope
    Scalpels, needles, knives
    Off they go down the slope
    Crashing into lives

    They break into the master plan
    And make a master copy
    They try to freeze a mortal man
    And throw away the floppy

    Oh highest tech intellect
    Think about the scar
    Think before dissecting us
    Controlling who we are

    You scrub away and scour
    And carefully inspect us
    With microscopic power
    You claim you can perfect us

    So slipping down the slope we go
    To the deep abyss below
    Design a mind, create a face
    A polished, finished human race...

    Copyright Mary Beth Lavin/Lavinia Publishing 2009
    http://www.marybethlavin.com

  • ||

    @domo: Woah now, I never defended the church.

    no, but others using your same arguments upthread did, you walked into the line of fire.

  • ||

    OK well that was unintentional; my purpose was to discuss the definition of legitimate science.

    Again, I think "fitting the curve" shaped by real data with a theory is a more noble scientific effort than ignoring the curve-shaping data that disagrees with a theory.

    I would rather see a scientist fit a curve than shape that curve.

  • ||

    I would rather see a scientist fit a curve than shape that curve.

    true, but there's a pretty fine line. I think we agree that it would be better to do less curve fitting than more. and that when the model becomes dominated by adjustments, it's usually time for a new model. The poster upthread basically said the church was justified in calling Galileo a heretic, because the tortured Ptolmaic models fit the data better than Galileo's.

    I'm also supposed forget that the church never made this argument - which was basically: "the bible says so."

  • ||

    Yeah fair enough. Like I said, I will never stick up for "the church" or for any religious institution, particularly as a guide for proper scientific method.

    Anyone who claims that the church can be trusted to deal with science rationally is in serious need of a history lesson.

  • ||

    "Anyone who claims that the church can be trusted to deal with science rationally is in serious need of a history lesson."

    True enough, but substitute the word "government" for "church" and the statement is no less true.

  • ||

    Yeah good point. Of course governmental policy is way over-informed by religious ideology anyway, so one statement implies the other.

  • Her Royal Britanic Highness Qu||

    If its a choice
    between

    a fetus

    or me getting new lungs and a replacement liver

    I choose me

    fuck feti

    Like really, you want unwanted feti to grow up to become crack heads that will mug me as opposed to me getting a nice new pair of lungs?!

    Seriously the reason I hate Bush the most was the fact that he delayed this shit by so long

    If I get lung cancer at 45 as opposed to 55 I could be fucked cus of that Luddite twat.

  • Will||

    I for one, am glad this one's not my call. Personally, I think that evidence on the matter is inconclusive in that any one with a good line is likely to encounter someone with an equal argument the opposite direction.

    So, I say, if you don't want one. Don't get one.

    I won't worry about the death of an aborted fetus anymore than I worry about the death of anyone else. It happens. It is the nature of the world.

  • ||

    Problem is the Coase Theorem: who owns the results of procreation?

    Since there embryos cannot even physically vote to own themselves, much less understand what ownership actually means, the owners are the producers, i.e. mom & dad, with mom as proprietor.

    Further problems are to be solved by market-clearing prices.

    Until the offspring is able to seek limited-time ownership by another person or full-time ownership of itself, others concept belong into the realm of pseudo-science.

  • ||

    What happens when an embryo goes to heaven?

  • ||

    Embryos are... complicated.

  • engineer||

    I'm not touching this one with a 40-foot-pole.

  • Chad||



    1. Of course we don't ask bankers or defense contractors to set their own regulations. But we *do* consult them when we're setting up those regulations, and if they say "this part of the rules is going to have a bad effect", we at least listen and consider their argument-and if we agree, we change the rules. That's all that's happening here.


    Fine, as long as you remember that scientists have no better ability to judge ethical issues than anyone else.

    2. There are millions of blastocysts formed every year that are never born. Most of the time, that's because they naturally failed to implant in the lining of their mother's uterus-if I recall correctly, something like 60% of embryos simply leave the woman's body during her next period. Is that smear on a tampon a human being?

    Some people die natural, therefore it is ok for us to kill even more? Uhh....

    3. Thousands more are created during IVF procedures and not implanted. Are those human beings too? Don't they have a right to life too? Should we force every mother who uses a fertility clinic to have octuplets like that woman in California? Or perhaps we should press-gang other women into carrying the spares to term?

    Anyone who opposes embryonic stem cell research (and presumably abortion), and who knows anything about IVF, would likely support a ban on the creation of these excess embryos. Indeed, it is no longer necessary. Italy banned it a few years back and required that all embryos be implanted, and despite the wild claims about how it would destroy their IVF industry, it did not. Success rates dropped slightly, life went on.

    4. Even so, clearly this is an area where reasonable people can disagree. As devotees of "free minds and free markets", that means we should step aside and let individuals decide what to do based on their own moral standards, rather than imposing restrictive regulations from on high.

    You are missing the point. You don't get to use your own "moral standards" when another person is involved. You have to abide by public standards - and the public's definition of who or what qualifies as a person.

    In any case, the point is almost moot. Researchers are moving away from embryonic research anyway, as pluripotent stem sells derived from the patients own skin or umbilical cells are a better solution anyway. Embryonic cells will have limited uses in research and possibly treatment in the short term, but the patient-matched pluripotent cells are the long-run winner.

    It's too bad we have to take yet another detour to the low road.

  • ||

    You are missing the point. You don't get to use your own "moral standards" when another person is involved. You have to abide by public standards - and the public's definition of who or what qualifies as a person.

    No, Chad, you're missing the point, the whole purpose of Reason is to help set the "public's definition" on these topics. Therefore reflecting on the "free minds and free markets" meme is important. And solutions where the "public's standard", whatever that means, is not required so that individual moral standards can be followed are preferable.

  • Chad||

    So if my individual moral standard happens to be that YOU are not a person, I could legally and morally kill you, right? Of course not.

    You are welcome to use your own moral standard for private actions. You are not welcome to use your own standards when your actions are not private, nor are you welcome to decide which of your actions are private and which are not. Only the public can make such determinations.

  • Justen||

    Science is best equipped to discover the pertinent facts that allow individuals to make ethical decisions. Just because we decide we are not going to let the ignorant, knee-jerk moral reactions of a few individuals pre-determine where science is allowed to look and what facts we're allowed to consider does not mean that we're eliminating ethics. Someone else has already pointed out that we're moving away from embryonic stem-cell research anyway, but with the wealth of discarded embryos available for current use it's hard to imagine a situation where we'll start mass-producing embryos for dissection anyway. The ethics behind the creation and existence of those surplus embryos is a separate discussion, but now that they are here the only options are to store them until they're no longer viable, destroy them, or put them to the best use we can doing research that may eventually save lives and cure diseases and disabilities. I think the most ethical choice there is clear. If you want to anthropomorphize them, imagine what they would most likely want.

  • ||

    Ignoring the fact that the public can't make a determination only people can (a small number of politicians at best but mostly like a couple of judges).

    I never said that individual morals are the absolute solution. That's a false dichotomy you're trying to create. My suggestion was that solutions that give the individual the largest ability to follow their own morals are generally seen as the preferred solution to followers of this site.

  • thevoice@voicedup.com||

    Finally, after almost a decade of limiting taxpayer money for research president Barrack Obama has lifted the restrictions on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research today.

  • ||

    I have a slight ethical aversion to the use of the embryos but not enough to make the study and destruction of them illegal. I believe Bush actually made a good decision with his political compromise.

    If these cells are the cornucopia of cures that the proponents of the research claim, then they should have no problem finding the capital to fund the research in the free market. Mayhap some of the universities involved in the research could pay for it out of their fat endowments instead of clamoring for more of my tax dollars.

  • MJ||

    "The sacredness of life is a personal issue."

    All right everybody, the sacredness of jester's life is up to your own personal beliefs. If you happen to meet him today, act accordingly.

  • MJ||

    "If the destruction of an embryo is truly morally repugnant, than we'd feel the same grief over discarded ones in fertility clinics and those that are miscarried--often without the mother even being aware she was pregnant--as we do the death of a child."

    To grieve for someone or something you have to be emotionally invested. Parents greive for miscarried children they are aware of all the time. The miscarriages they are not aware of? Not so much. How many people grieve over the death of a child they do not know and whose family they do not know? Does that mean that such deaths are not tragic?

  • MJ||

    "Good science doesn't explain the data, it predicts it."-domoarigato

    Except it was backwards in this case, the Ptolemiac System predicted the movements of the planets very well, it did not explain them very well. And it could not explain new discoveries, like the Jovian Moons, at all.

  • ||

    Have to agree with crimethink and Mad Max on this: Sincerity in espousing a cause does not compel you to adopt the stupidest, least constructive, least effective strategy for achieving it.

    Think of the doctrines of just war: If it's ultimately not effective, direct action is not justified.

    You have to think more than one move ahead in the chess game.

    As for anyone who claims, "Well, if I knew there was a holocaust going on down the street, you'd bet I'd charge the gates of Dachau with a machine gun! Just me against the Reich, mannnn!" ... well, forgive me, but that sounds like Internet Tuff Guy Variant #12837.

    (And one of you I've met in real life, and as it happens I know you are a tough guy in real life ... and also very smart. Which leads me to believe you yourself aren't being entirely sincere in advocating direct action, although I believe your motivations are purely Socratic.)

    And biologically, there's no way you can rescue an embryo from the womb of a mother intent on killing it. The only really effective way of preventing an abortion is education and persuasion -- discuss the costs and the alternatives with the mother, and let her conclude that she really doesn't want to do it.

    Which, according to some the of the cases described above, is achieved sometimes.

  • ||

    Oh ... and if you're going to go the persuasion route, attempting it at the entrance to an abortion clinic is probably not the ideal time and place. It's a bit late in the game by then.

    Discussing abortion when it's still an abstract concept to the parties involved in the discussion, rather than a decision already made, is in fact probably a superior and more effective strategy.

  • ||

    But if it's OK to destroy 5-day-old embryos to further scientific inquiry, is it OK to destroy embryos that are five weeks old? Five months? Eight months? Science can't answer that question.


    Who gives a flying fuck? All that matters in this issue is the new embryos. Any ethical or moral quandary is a pack of made up theological bullcrap. If I were in charge there'd be vast embryo farms churning out basic research material at the going market rate. The Tuskegee experiments? WTF? That isn't even in the same galactic sector as the stem cell issue.

    Did some rich Democrats buy out this site recently? Some wackadoodle GOP evangelicals? Will the next article on stem cells admonish us to THINK OF THE CHIIIIILDREN?

    And, oh cripes, the abortion debate putzes. Bleah. There's no nuance to worry about here. Abortions should be freely available at mall kiosks, any age, no questions asked. All else is loonville and dreams of authoritarians.

  • ||

    "pro-abortion"

    A classic distortion. Some who use this phrase just can't conceive (oops) of anyone being pro-choice but anti-abortion. Similar to being unable to conceive of anyone opposing both drug use and prohibition. For some, not wanting every substantial preference to be law does not compute. (I've also run into this when debating supporters of smoking bans in bars.) Others are just intentionally being misleading.

  • ||

    Whats the problem with human cloning? I dont get it. Twins are in a way clones. But they are "natural" clones so we dont have a problem with it. People against human cloning have seen to much shit on tv and fear that someone will make a clone out of Hitler (and they assume that clone will have the same ideas and be just as horrible for some reason).

  • ||

    The fundamental argument behind Chapman's piece is flawed. Science, and more broadly rationality, -based ethics are far more desirable than the alternative this article seems to be advocating. A moral framework that is not based in reality should not be respected. "Because I say so" or "because my holy book says so" moral rules do not make something ethical, and this is the position that those who are against stem-cell research are taking. A potential to be human does not make something human.

    It truly is disgusting to see this printed on a so-called libertarian publication's site. More and more I find irony that this publication is called "Reason".

  • MJ||

    "The Tuskegee experiments? WTF? That isn't even in the same galactic sector as the stem cell issue."

    It is if your argument for destroying embryos includes the notion that science should not be constrained by ethics. This is part of Obama's justification as protecting "free and open inquiry".

  • ||

    We are hardly talking about Unit 731 here.

    These are interesting moral issues, and I agree that they ought to be discussed. I would even argue that, upon development of a brainstem, a woman no longer has the moral right to induce an abortion.

    However, the manner in which you're raising these questions is deeply irresponsible. As things stand, on the one hand we have kids like this guy: http://www.loveonwheelz.net/ confined to a wheelchair, unable to speak, who might be freed to a normal life - on the other hand we have a vague moral question about where life begins.

    You're adding fuel to the fundamentalist fire with this editorial. I agree with your stated intentions, but your unintended results will be greater human suffering.

  • ||

    If the cells are going to be destroyed anyway, I see nothing wrong with using them for research.

  • ||

    When does a cluster of cells become a person?

    This distinction is not clear, thus we must err on the side of human life.

    From my personal experience. My son was born three months premature. At birth, he was not viable on this own. Modern medicine and technology saved his life. Through our superior medical system and $1M USD, he is now a happy and normal one year old.

    I am not sure when Anthony became a individual and deserving of such effort.

    One group would demand we grind the potential for life into "research", and another group would demand we take every resource of society to protect the potential for life.

    For my own morality will err on the side of life, for if I did not I feel the slippery slope would await my fall.

  • ||

    HFSBunny - a cluster of cells is never a person by any reasonable definition. At the very least the cutoff has to be a substantially functioning nervous system. All well considered rules of ethics on this point are based on mental function.

    In the case of your son, it is commendable that you made the choice to save him and were in a position to make sure he was well taken care of. If you were to force this position on some one else, it would be highly ethically questionable though.

    Something people fail to understand over and over again about morality and ethics - they can never be defined in terms of a single individual. They are rules for interacting with other people or beings. To refer to your own personal morality is nonsensical, ethics are a social construct and have to be validated based on what effect they have on others. Embryos don't get a look in, because they do not have minds in any sense.

  • ||

    As with many political issues, I take the south park stance. If/when it becomes lucrative to invest in embryonic stem cell research, women will no longer have to pay for abortions and will probably get paid to have them. The remote possibility of this occurring in the private sector is bad enough, but how much worse will it be if taxpayers have to foot the bill for that sick industry.

  • ||

    At the very least, can't we agree that no one should be FORCED to pay for something when so many people consider it immoral?

  • ||

    Lisa, you seem to have deeply misunderstood the technical issues here. Tissue from abortions is not, and can not be used for embryonic stem cell research.

    Forcing (taxing) people to pay for things that provide benefit to society as a whole gets to the heart of libertarian philosophy, and is a very thorny issue where it comes to government sponsored research. You are on pretty shaky philosophical ground here though as this is a very clear cut case. Your position on ESC research being immoral doesn't have any philosophical foundation to stand on, and so its very likely irrational. A majority of US citizens are in favor of ESC research (much polling data on this), and so you would propose allowing the irrational minority to damage the rational majority.

    In an idealistic fantasy world, you could allow the irrational group to split off, not pay taxes for and not receive any of the benefits of modern medical science, thereby decreasing their survival and prosperity. Good luck implementing this in reality.

  • Rick D||

    Is it ethically wrong to harvest a five-day-old blastocyst? Why would it be? At five days, it's a choseive unit of live cells - much like your run-of-the-mill clump of hair or patch of skin. We lose hair and skin throughout our lives, and never give a second thought to this "human" life lost. Why is the blastocyst any different?
    There is a point about two months into a pregnancy where the makings of human consciousness are unmistakably there: dreaming, brain waves, limb movement, etc. But that's well after five days.

  • ||

    It's not the stage of development that's the issue; it's the fact that when you're killing an embryo you're literally killing any chance of a future life to happen and all the good things that go with it. It's the same argument concerning the killing of children; a child may not necessarily be a productive, coherent, or even conscious member of society but that doesn't mean killing one doesn't have an opportunity-cost. If little Jimmy dies, there goes all hope for him growing up and living a happy life. That's why we have tougher sentences concerning their loss.

    On top of this, since embryos are unable to defend themselves it's safe to say that the future child of an embryo would prefer to live. After all, if I were to convince you that I am going back in time to convince your parents to abort, you'd likely try to stop me since I would be attempting to have you killed in a literal yet ironic sense.

    But if I were to just prevent your parents from ever meeting, then technically I wouldn't be killing you at all but rather preventing your conception from ever happening. You can't kill something that doesn't exist in this case. This is not to say that you wouldn't try to stop me anyway.

    There are consequences for everything we do, and the future remains uncertain. Someone may choose to avoid an incoming truck, only to unintentionally avoid that stunning nurse who would have become his wife and mother of many children. Someone else may choose to drink a particular cup of coffee, never realizing that he narrowly avoided dying from the poison that was in the OTHER cup. But this does not mean that we have no responsibility for our actions; we choose all the time without feeling compelled to do so. Neither does this mean that there are no concrete consequences; there are some things that we can logically point out as solid truths. In this case, the killing of an embryo is literally the killing of a potentially good future, as is the case with anyone whom is killed.

    Putting that point aside, no one can rationally argue that all abortions are necessary or that they must be paid by theft of the tax-payer.

  • ||

    If you have a problem with the destruction of embryos for scientific purposes, then it stands to reason you should have problems with the destruction of embryos for monetary gain.

    Why no mention, or complaint, of why most embryos are created (out of the womb), and how most are destroyed?

  • Richard Stands||

    So we have two choices? Prohibit it or subsidize it? Why was it that is this something which should be government funded?

  • ||

    DavidW - The argument you present is fundamentally flawed and not philosophically defensible. An embryo without a womb to develop it is not a potential life anymore than an egg without a sperm is a potential life.

    Richard - Most large scale medical research would simply not happen without significant government support. The biomedical industry in general is so focused on short term, immediately applicable results, that much of the basic research that results in the truly stunning advances is still done by academic labs (and these labs generate most of the entrepreneurial class for this field anyway). Advanced stem cell research will very likely result in the dramatic improvement of medical capability. By not having the government fund it, you would be arguing that the US should not be a world leader in this technology. As the last eight years have shown, lack of government support for promising technologies can have a very real effect on their development. A black and white anarcho-libertarian view is not helpful when people have to make very practical choices about large scale research development.

  • Scarpe Nike||

    is good

  • changqin||

    good

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