The President's Council on Bioethics, Take Two

Can Obama do better than Bush when it comes to biotech freedom?

In June, President Barack Obama disbanded Bush's controversial President's Council on Bioethics. He is expected to appoint a replacement panel sometime this fall. This is no small matter. Before terrorism became the all-consuming interest of his presidency, it looked like bioethics policy might be Bush's lasting legacy—his first televised speech to the nation was about restricting stem cell research. Now it's Obama's turn. What should the next bioethics council do?

The future bioethics commission should be data-driven rather than ideology-driven, writes Michael Peroski, of the Progressive Bioethics Initiative at the Center for American Progress—a left-leaning think tank from which President Obama has plucked numerous members of his administration. I quite agree. A national bioethics council should seek out data on the risks and benefits of new biotechnologies and figure out how to adequately inform citizens about them. A bioethics commission could also make valuable recommendations on how best to make sure that patients and research subjects are fully informed and protected against undue safety risks. 

However, Peroski's essay goes off the rails with his rather odd example of what he means by ideology-driven bioethics. "Proceeding from ideology-driven inquiry entails starting from an answer: ‘Research on human embryonic stem cell should be forbidden because embryos are equivalent to human lives' and working backwards to a question: ‘Is research on human embryonic stem cells ethical?,'" suggests Peroski. "Proceeding with data-driven inquiry means starting with the question: ‘Is embryonic stem cell research ethical?' and then taking the time to educate the public, gather information about public sentiment on the topic, carefully analyze the costs and benefits of proceeding with or prohibiting the research, and offering a pragmatic recommendation that takes all of these considerations into account."

I am pretty sure that people who think that embryos are people would respond that Peroski's data-driven formulation is basically begging the most important question rather than answering it. But other progressives see no problem with ideology-driven bioethical inquiries. For instance, the nation's progressive-in-chief: In March, when President Obama issued a new executive order setting up a review that would allow for the expansion of federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research, he also declared: "We will ensure 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."

Hold on a minute! Where is the supposedly non-ideological data-driven question: Is human reproductive cloning research ethical? It turns out that President Obama's proposed ban on reproductive cloning is motivated by exactly the kind of ideology-driven inquiry decried by Peroski. What if a data-driven inquiry found that cloning could be done safely so that cloned babies would have as much of a chance to be healthy as those produced conventionally? Would it still be "profoundly wrong"? No answer.

In a companion essay to Peroski's, Marcy Darnovsky, associate executive director of the radical Center for Genetics and Society, takes up some conservative concerns about bioethics from a progressive perspective. She worries about how cloning and other biotech developments might change the way we "uphold social justice, human rights, and even our shared humanity." Her way of resolving conflict isn't ideology, she says, but finding "ways to extend the purview of democratic oversight to these questions and challenges." Darnovsky claims that the advent of designer babies, the development of markets for human eggs and gestational surrogacy services, and the possibility of human genetic enhancement "call for substantive deliberation about [their] meaning and consequences, among the widest range of stakeholders." But then, in a seeming about face, she praises President Obama for singling out "human reproductive cloning as an instance of intolerable misuse." Intolerable? Who's an ideologue now? 

Darnovsky's vision of how to establish and empower a new bioethics council is shot through with an ideology, one which amounts to democratic authoritarianism. Polls show most Americans currently oppose human reproductive cloning, a fact Darnovsky may be relying on to secure the outcomes she prefers. But are poll results sufficient moral justification for banning any new technology? Hardly. Recall that in 1969, a Harris poll found that a majority of Americans believed that producing test-tube babies was "against God's will." In 1970s, the federal government imposed a moratorium on federal funding of in vitro fertilization (IVF) research. In 1995, a Tarrance poll found that 74 percent of Americans opposed government funding of research that would involve destroying or discarding live human embryos in the first two weeks of development. In 2001, 60 percent of Americans in an ABC News poll and 56 percent in a CNN-USA Today-Gallup approved President Bush's restrictions on the funding of human embryonic stem cell research.

That was then, and this is now. In 2009, solid majorities of Americans enthusiastically back both in vitro fertilization and human embryonic stem cell research. If Darnovsky had had her way, an inclusive bioethics panels in the bad old days would likely have banned both IVF and stem cell research as an exercise of their "democratic oversight." 

Darnovsky's democratic inclusiveness extends offshore. Darnovsky urges that "a national bioethics council should take advantage of the important work that has already been done throughout the world toward development of responsible policies for genetic, reproductive, and biomedical technologies. The United States is in many ways an outlier, with few meaningful regulatory and oversight policies in place." Well, yes. And a good thing too, since lack of government intrusion allows for the expression of moral pluralism. So far, at least, with regard to many biotechnical advances, the majority in the U.S. doesn't get to impose its values on the minority, as has happened in many other countries.

Germany democratically bans using pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, for example, which involves taking a single cell from an eight-celled embryo produced by means of IVF to check it for genetic diseases. Would-be parents can choose embryos that do not have the deleterious gene. In addition, Germany bans the derivation of human embryonic stem cells. Producing human-animal chimeras by combining human and animal genetic material with the goal of producing stem cells or animals that better model human diseases is outlawed by Australia, France, Germany, and Italy. Canada democratically bans the sale of human eggs and sperm, punishing violators with a maximum penalty of a $500,000 fine and 10 years in prison.

As a result of these overseas restrictions on various assisted reproduction treatments, the United States has become a haven for people seeking reproductive freedom. For example, fertility treatment centers in Illinois reported in June that overseas patients seeking to use donor eggs or surrogacy to have babies had jumped 50 percent this year. As IVF specialist Brian Kaplan noted, "Unfortunately, these couples are often restricted by harsh regulations and limited options in their own country."

There is a difference between progressives like Darnovsky and true liberals. Liberals believe that human rights enjoy priority over democracy. Liberals accept as true that there is a protected sphere of private activity and belief into which even well-meaning democratic majorities may not intrude. Biotechnology is one of a suite of new intimate technologies which are well on the way to empowering people to enhance themselves and their progeny by giving them stronger bodies, longer and healthier lives, and smarter brains. Certainly technologies dealing with birth, death, and the meaning and purpose of life need protection from meddling by others who, however democratically, would force their visions of the good on the rest of us.

A national bioethics panel can serve a very valuable function in communicating to the public the ethical risks and benefits of new biomedical treatments and research endeavors. But when people of good will deeply disagree on moral issues that don't involve the prevention of force or fraud, it is a fraught exercise to submit their disagreement to a panel of political appointees or a democratic vote. That way leads to intolerance, repression, and social conflict. Whatever else President Obama's new national bioethics council does, it must make sure that Americans have wide scope to pursue their own visions of the good without excessive hindrance by their fellow citizens.

Ronald Bailey is Reason magazine's science correspondent. His book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution is now available from Prometheus Books.

Disclosure: I had the pleasure and privilege of participating in the Center for American Progress's Progressive Bioethics Summit two years ago. 

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  • Meta4||

    What's with the kiddy porn?

  • alan||

    I was reading a piece on Bridgett Bardot turning 75 soon last night on the U.K.'s Independent site. As I did so, I thought about Bailey's previous writings on the ethics of human cloning while browsing through the few pictures of the young Bardot that accompanied the article. What could be more unethical than to let Bardot's genes die along with her? What a waste that would be.

  • ||

    Alan,

    Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, Anita Eckberg, Sofia Loren, we are in danger of losing the greatest generation of screen babes in history. That is an awfully powerful argument for cloning.

  • ||

    John you philistine. You forgot Ann Margaret.

  • qwerty||

    "The future bioethics commission should be data-driven rather than ideology-driven"

    No. The decision of whether or not to pursue scientific research is not a scientific question. It is a question of economics, practicality, and, yes--morality. There are no "data-driven" answers to whether or not cloning, stem cell research, abortion, germ-line genetic engineering, ect. are OK. It's a moral question.

    People that say this just want to shut up opponents of these activities. I actually agree that most of the things listed above are good, and should be pursued, but I at least acknowledge that the questions are worth asking.

  • ||

    The progressives worry that biotechnological progress will lead to designer babies, people selling gametes to one another, and other such horrors.



    Are these the same progressives that demand women have complete autonomous control over their reproductive organs?

    Oh wait, it's about the money. Anonymous promiscuous sex is okay, but prostitution is bad because it involves money. Abortion on demand is okay because the gub'ment pays for it, but she can't sell her eggs because that would be capitalistic.

  • ||

    John, do you have something against Joan Collins? What's your problem?

  • Xeones||

    What's with the kiddy porn?

    Obama's not appointing the Blog Ethics Council until next spring.

  • ||

    Damn Ben you are right. Ann Margaret is a serious omission.

  • ||

    And Jill St. John. Pretty much every pre-1975 Bond woman would have to go to the top of the list.

  • ||

    The progressives worry that biotechnological progress will lead to designer babies, people selling gametes to one another, and other such horrors. Consequently, they want to "extend the purview of democratic oversight" to regulating such activities so that they can meddle in other people's reproductive and biotech enhancement decisions.

    Shades of eugenics there. The progressives seem to have inherited their intellectually antecedent's fetish for genetic purity. Only instead of being worried about misogeny and retardation, they are worried we'll get stronger and smarter.

  • ||

    It's Sophia Loren.

  • ||

    Er .... intellectual (minus the ly)

  • ||

    But Hazel, they have no problem with aborting handicapped babies. That is pretty damned harsh to say we are going to whack you if you don't fit the profile but we are not going to do anything to help you meet the profile.

  • Jeff P||

    Man, a weekend with Barbara Eden, Sophia Loren, Bridgette Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, Anita Eckberg Joan Collins... that's a thousand years worth of women right there!

    I'm a Millenniasexual.

  • Ringo Starr||

    Pre-1975? What's wrong with Mrs. Starr?

  • Gunboat Diplomacy||

    "John you philistine. You forgot Ann Margaret."

    You know she's still out there on the road working banquets and whatnot.

  • Elemenope||

    qwerty with the uncomfortable win @ 3:49

  • ||

    John,

    To be fair, that's also what the technologies on the horizon for selecting traits of offspring do: generate a couple of hundred embryos and destroy the ones that don't fit the template. That's why pro-life people tend to oppose these things (though Mr Bailey and his transhumanist buds would have you believe it's just because they fear any technology more advanced than the wheel and want to go back to the dark ages).

  • Gunboat Diplomacy||

    "But Hazel, they have no problem with aborting handicapped babies. That is pretty damned harsh to say we are going to whack you if you don't fit the profile but we are not going to do anything to help you meet the profile."

    That's a good point.

  • Gunboat Diplomacy||

    "Pre-1975? What's wrong with Mrs. Starr?"

    The huge ubly growth on her back, that's what.

  • ||

    Guys, if we have faith in evolution we must trust that women in succeeding generations will get ever-hotter. Stop clinging to the past and embrace the future. And say 10 Hail Goulds for your penance.

    Oh, I understand that doubt is tempting. Heck, I just got back from Walmart, so you can imagine my estimation of humanity is at its nadir. But persevere, my friends!

  • ||

    I know Tulpa. ron is not exactly reasonable in his portrayal of his opponents on the issue.

    My fear of transhumanism is more related to the second order effects of it. Maybe there are values to having a naturally generated gene pool that we don't fully understand.

  • ||

    In contrast, Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey argues that whatever else President Obama's new national bioethics council does, it must make sure that Americans have wide scope to pursue their own visions of the good without excessive hindrance by their fellow citizens.



    Good luck with that. Maybe this will work better:

    In contrast, Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey argues that whatever else President __________'s new __________ (council/department/administration/other) does, it must make sure that Americans have wide scope to pursue their own visions of the good without excessive hindrance by their fellow citizens.



    Equally as unlikely

  • kinnath||

    My fear of transhumanism is more related to the second order effects of it. Maybe there are values to having a naturally generated gene pool that we don't fully understand.

    Do you think the transhumans will care about what happens to use anymore than how much we care about the neanderthals?

  • ||

    John: In re a "naturally generated gene pool" -- all I'm saying is let some experiment. Such experimenters could be either become a good example or a horrible warning.

  • ||

    Is there any doubt that the government will do whatever the heck it likes in this field, while it sternly tut-tuts any activity in the private sector?

    There's plenty we could do right now that we don't. I don't think we need a bunch of laws or Eugenics Czars to protect us.

  • Timmy||

    Do you want Poodles or do you want wolves?

  • ||

    Timmy,

    I'd like an obscene combination of the two.

  • ||

    Good point, John. Our bodies are incredibly complicated machines the workings of which no one is remotely close to understanding completely. So long as we're just talking about minor tinkering with the genetic code (ie, giving a person attributes that other people already have) you're probably not going to get into trouble. But as their name implies, transhumanists don't want to stop there. When you start engineering suction cups on the soles of your feet, or another pair of eyes in the back of your head, you're presuming that you know better than a billion years of evoluton does, and that's when the danger appears.

    But of course if someone wants to turn himself and his offspring into squid-spider chimerae, that's his business, as long as he doesn't demand my money to finance it and keeps his webs and ink off my lawn.

  • ||

    The left opposes human genetic engineering for two primary reasons:

    1) There's the "naturalism fallacy", the one that drives their opposition to GM foods ("Mutant food makes mutant people!!, et al)

    2) They worry about a genetic underclass and overclass, because poverty is fine (even wonderful), but inequality of outcome is a the devil.

  • Timmy||

    I'd like an obscene combination of the two.

    What you really want is collie crossed with vixen ;-)

  • ||

    I think what will hold up any really wacky transhumanist experiments is the uncertainty of the result. I can't help but think that there could be some legal liability for knowingly or recklessly creating a person with a major handicap or flaw. Which is a serious risk, even if you're aiming for superman.

    Maybe when we have a better handle on genetics (and maybe a better capacity to simulate the results of eugenic engineering) we'll see more activity. Until then (and probably after), we don't need no stinkin' commission.

  • ||

    Do I need to go into the fact that William Shatner fell in love with Joan Collins? That Harlan Ellison wrote it originally that Spock pushes her in front of the truck? You people are seriously falling down on The City on the Edge of Forever front.

  • Zeb||

    "Abortion on demand is okay because the gub'ment pays for it"

    Why has no one told me about this before?

  • ||

    "Bioethics" is just religion by another name. Keep the faith out of public policy - and especially out of science.

    If it can help humanity, it's good. And it should be legal. Even if it would make baby jesus cry.

  • Joan||

    Most of these things are good, but we need to ban cloning because it is fucked up.

  • ||

    I don't think anyone wants to engineer squid suckion cups onto their kids feet. The vast majority of users of this technology are going to go for larger brains and better health. Maybe insert an allele that counters a negative recessive linked to schizophrenia or alzheimers.

    At worst, they might try to specify musical talent or athletic talent and try to breed an olympic gold medal winning baby.

    There are couples out there who are reluctant to have children because of (say) past history of mental illness in the family. I find it vaguely immoral to deny them the technology that might help them reduce their children's risk of genetically linked diseases.

  • ||

    I never have gotten around to reading Ellison's original screenplay. Spock does the pushing? Frankly, I think Kirk doing the pushing works much, much better.

  • ||

    Bush appointed his evangelical mullahs to science/bioethics positions yet the last vestiges of his failed ideology hang out here and bark at a real pro-science administration?

    Hell, the GOP sponsored state ballot initiatives to ban all ESCR in 2006 - yet conservatives still line up to portray themselves as something other than backwoods hicks driven by their aborto-freak fundie ideology.

    I'm embarrassed for the writers at Reason who have to read this conservative crap opinion on this board.

  • ||

    I don't think anyone wants to engineer squid suckion cups onto their kids feet.

    I want my kids to glow in the dark so I can catch them when they try to sneak up on me, to kill me for the inheritance. That gene is available.

  • Xeones||

    shrike, take your goddamn meds. You've been warned.

  • Rich||

    I don't think anyone wants to engineer squid suckion cups onto their kids feet.

    If it'll help 'em get a job in the new economy ...

    In the year 2525 these conversations will be seen as ridiculously quaint.

  • ||

    I can't help but think that there could be some legal liability for knowingly or recklessly creating a person with a major handicap or flaw.

    We may get a case sooner rather than later. May be an urban legend, but I seem to remember reading about deaf couples trying to ensure their child is deaf.

    the last vestiges of his failed ideology hang out here and bark at a real pro-science administration

    shrike, would you care to explain what is "pro-science" about state control of the research and application of technology?

  • ||

    I don't know what everyone's concerned about, anyway. It's not eugenics that's the threat--it's robots and the genetic engineering/upgrading of other species.

  • ||

    I've heard about that one. Whether it's true or not, I think an agreement to purposefully damage a kid (e.g., to render him deaf) would be unenforceable as against public policy, not to mention that it might be actionable, either for the kid or someone acting in his place. This leaves aside any direct action by regulators or child protection agencies, of course.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Shrike is making so much less sense than the last time we were graced with its presence.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    "In the year 2525 these conversations will be seen as ridiculously quaint."

    That song has way too many annoying whole step pop modulations. It doesn't increase the musical tension and excitement at all... it's just a subtle way to let you know that the farther into the futch the song talks about, the more stupid it gets.

  • ||

    Is shrike the Shrike, as in the thing from Hyperion?

  • Zager & Evans||

    That song has way too many annoying whole step pop modulations.

    Whoa, whoa.

  • ||

    "John you philistine. You forgot Ann Margaret."

    You know she's still out there on the road working banquets and whatnot.


    The restraining order as a result of inquiry into her fees for a private performance kinda gets in the way.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Look... One is usually too many. That song has 2, and then a return to the original key. And you should never do such a thing in the middle of a song unless you do it to be purposefully kitchy.

    The only exception - and a highly limited one at that - is the opportunity to step up the key ONE time at the very end of a song for the last time through the chorus. Zager & Evans broke the rulez and must now pay the price.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    That exception, btw, is almost exclusively used for Britney Spears and associated bad pop. So... Use at own risk.

  • Jordan||

    And what a surprise, shriek shows up to throw a tantrum because we've pointed out that Team Blue doesn't really give a shit about reproductive freedom either.

  • ||

    I'm embarrassed for the writers at Reason who have to read this conservative crap opinion on this board.

    Ever since Obama took office, there has been a lot more conservative crap here. I think they feel like to be "libertarian" you can't side with the current administration's policies. There was a ton of anti-bush stuff here during the Bush years.

    I'm really disappointed in Reason over this. Though maybe the Reason I like is only the Reason that exists during Republican administrations. Ever since Obama took office, this place has been one big tea party, other than Jacob Sullum's various posts about ending the drug war (which is both anti-republicans and anti-democrats, 100% contrarian all the time, any time).

  • ||

    Let's see. Libertarians like small government and free markets. The Bush whitehouse was Big Government. Big spending and market regulation and manipulation. The Obama administration is Bigger Government. Bigger spending and much more marlet intrusion. Reason Rails against both.

    Anybody see a problem here?

    anyone?

    anyone?

  • Jordan||

    Anybody see a problem here?

    anyone?

    anyone?



    Liberals who like to call themselves libertarians apparently do.

  • ||

    All: In re deaf couple wanting a deaf baby. Actually what happened is that a deaf lesbian couple in DC approached a number of fertility clinics asking them to use PGD to ensure that they had a deaf baby using donor sperm. The clinics refused arguing that their values were against helping to knowingly create a child with a genetic disability.

    I would not outlaw any clinic from offering this service to deaf couples, but I would certainly also not mandate that clinics provide the service.

    In any case, the lesbian couple gave up and reportedly went and found a deaf sperm donor the old-fashioned way.

    BruceM: I voted for Obama. Paraphrasing former White House chief of staff John Sununu's comment to me when I asked what he thought about having recommended David Souter for Supreme Court Justice: "Barack has been a disappointment to me."

    But I am curious: Just what is it that libertarians are supposed to like about bailing out banks, the auto industry, and nearly everyone else. Or a dramatic expansion of government control over health care? Or shoveling billions in cash to subsidize renewable energy and high speed railroads? Or creating a vast cap-and-trade carbon rationing program that will be a huge corporate giveaway? And there's more, but I'm too depressed to go on.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Ya know... I always figure, if the Republicans think you're a liberal, and the Democrats think you're a conservative, you're probably doing something right.

  • ||

    Ron Bailey, I am curious. I voted for Obama. I did it because he promised to do most of the things you lay out in your 7:14pm comment. Are you having buyer's remorse now? Did you misunderstand his clearly(what I thought were clear anyway) stated goals of fixing the infrastructure, healthcare, the environment, energy and world affairs at great cost while shoveling money into the banks?

  • ||

    Brotherben: Well, perhaps I was seeing what I wanted to see, but I also don't expect politicians to try to keep their promises. :-)

    In any case, I clearly did hear Obama say that he intended to "fix" the things you list, but he was a bit vague on details. Let's take energy -- he might have come out in favor of nuclear power.

    On the other hand, I explained last year that I basically voted for Obama to punish the feckless Republicans in the faint hope that they would remember that they are supposed to be the party of small government and free enterprise.

  • MJ||

    "In 2009, solid majorities of Americans enthusiastically back both in vitro fertilization and human embryonic stem cell research."

    Perhaps, the problem is if memory serves a significant majority also still oppose destroying living embryos as well. There is a bit of coginitive dissonance here in American opinion caused in no small part by the pro-"science" side hiding or outright lying about what IVF and embryonic stem cell research actually entail.

  • MJ||

    "What could be more unethical than to let Bardot's genes die along with her? What a waste that would be."

    And what, exactly, would be the status of her clones? What would you do with them?

  • MJ||

    ""Bioethics" is just religion by another name. Keep the faith out of public policy - and especially out of science." - BruceM

    Hmm, does "M" stand for "Mengele" perchance?

  • MJ||

    Or that "Bioethics" should not be allowed to prevent valid science like the Tuskegee Experiment?

  • MJ||

    "I don't think anyone wants to engineer squid suckion cups onto their kids feet. The vast majority of users of this technology are going to go for larger brains and better health."

    I would not have thought that an unemployed single mother of sextuplets would deliberately have another multiple IVF pregnancy. Most people would intend to use it for sensible things, but some people are seriously fucked in the head.

  • ||

    disclaimer: I know less about genetics than I know about the mind of female hominids.

    My basic worry about tinkering with the human genome(or whatever it's called) is not knowing what the domino effect might bring from it. Like bringin in kudzu to help stop erosion. Or cane toads or snakeheads etc. I have no idea if we know enough about the effects to try tinkering so we can be what, happier about the kid we have? If you think you need to engineer a better kid for your happiness, you might wanna reconsider the choice to get preggo.

  • ||

    I explained last year that I basically voted for Obama to punish the feckless Republicans in the faint hope that they would remember that they are supposed to be the party of small government and free enterprise.

    One day we will be able to engineer babies without noses, so they will have to come up with more creative ways to spite their face.

  • ||

    Ron Bailey, one more thing and I will stop interrupting a great thread. I think a great many people voted as you did to punish the republicans and as an anti-bush statement. Those that voted for Obama, mistook your votes as a mandate for big change and are now finding out that the president has much less support than they thought. I think that's a big part of all the cranky we are seeing nationwide. We thought we had a mandate and got gridlock instead.

  • ||

    Tulpa, that made me giggle like a schoolgirl.

  • ||

    I find it vaguely immoral to deny them the technology that might help them reduce their children's risk of genetically linked diseases.

    That's not what any technology on the horizon does. Rather, they produce hundreds of children, select the one that has the lowest risk of disease, and destroy the rest. Sort of a faster, more efficient version of the Roman practice of spiking unsuitable infants' heels and leaving them in the forest.

  • alan||


    And what, exactly, would be the status of her clones? What would you do with them?


    After eighteen years, I would get a return on my investment by opening up a strip joint. Better than long term treasury bonds, that is for sure. You really didn't think it would be difficult to figure out what to do with Bridget Bardot clones did you?


    Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, Anita Eckberg, Sofia Loren, we are in danger of losing the greatest generation of screen babes in history. That is an awfully powerful argument for cloning.


    Damn, straight, John. Now that we are entering into the post-feminist era, it will be an even more promising enterprise.

  • Tony||

    Anybody see a problem here?

    anyone?

    anyone?



    Yes. Let's stop pretending that once a government passes it is no longer subject to examination or criticism in light of current events. And that there is some sort of moral equivalent between the Obama stimulus and healthcare spending and the Bush wars.

  • ||

    The Bush wars are now the Obama wars, Tony.

  • MJ||

    "You really didn't think it would be difficult to figure out what to do with Bridget Bardot clones did you?"

    Sex slavery,eh? No, I did not, I just really wanted to see if you would go there, and you did.

  • qwerty||

    I voted for Obama. Paraphrasing former White House chief of staff John Sununu's comment to me when I asked what he thought about having recommended David Souter for Supreme Court Justice: "Barack has been a disappointment to me."

    Why? He is doing exactly what his record indicated he would do. I voted for Barr because I knew full well that either Obama or McCain would be an absolute disaster for freedom. The last election was the worst choice we had since 1972.

  • alan||

    Sex slavery,eh? No, I did not, I just really wanted to see if you would go there, and you did.

    I assume the Bardot clone embryos would be female ones. If there were male ones, I certainly wouldn't advocate that. Sheesh. Give a guy some credit, will you?

  • MJ||

    "Male ones"? Do you know something about Bardot's chromosomes that I don't? There's a Y hiding in there? Bardot's a trap?!!!

  • alan||

    "Male ones"? Do you know something about Bardot's chromosomes that I don't? There's a Y hiding in there? Bardot's a trap?!!!

    He he he. She did a few blue pictorial shoots in her younger days, believe me, the tuck rule doesn't apply in her case.

  • alan||

    When I was around the age of ten, there was a public dump about five miles from my house. My friends and I would hike to the dump to find discarded porn. I can attest to my early archeological endeavors that digging up Bardot pictorials from her early career was a very popular past time in America's smut publishing industry in the late 70's and early 80's.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    "One day we will be able to engineer babies without noses, so they will have to come up with more creative ways to spite their face."



    FTW!

  • aisw||

    Easier said than done.

  • ||

    Is shrike the Shrike, as in the thing from Hyperion?

    No, because the one in the book was thankfully mute the vast majority of the time.

  • theo||

    Just remember, all these experiments and procedures are done on someone else. For them, there is no "wide scope to pursue their own visions of the good without excessive hindrance by their fellow citizens." They are made, destroyed, taken apart, re-engineered, or destined to a particular thing by someone else who thought it a good idea--without their consent. They had no say in these decisions that affect them. The subjects and the results of the experimentation are PERSONS.

    "All I'm saying is let some experiment" on other people. "Such experimenters could be either become a good example or a horrible warning." The fact of what they do has determined the kind of example they are.

    If your ethic permits experimentation and destruction and exploitation of others for the benefit of some, then it is criminal whether or not it is legal. "YOUR" legitimate freedom does not extend to that kind of use of others.

    What a rediculous website. "Reason" my *ss.

  • ||

    I don't think your statement that George Bush wanted to "restrict stem cell research" is a fair characterization. I re-read his speech from August 2001 and there is no mention of wanting to impose any new legislation on private funding for stem cell research. He simply sought to avoid the use of *federal funds* for *embryonic* stem cell research. So the issue was only about embryonic stem cells and even then only about where the funds would come from. In principle, I believe the government should not have to fund any basic scientific research (with the exception of research used for defense and nuclear weapons), and George Bush's position of wanting to limit the use of taxpayer dollars for embryonic stem cell research I believe was the right decision.

  • theo||

    An observation about many of the posts, including those intended to be humorous: The presumption that the clones or results of genetic engineering will somehow belong to the experimenter (or manufacturer), that they would be expected to comply with the manufacturer's vision of the future and the betterment of the race and society.

    Therefore, the indignation at having your "freedom" constrained by bioethical regulations is about "your" freedom and not about the principle of whether people ought to be free. If people ought to be free, then they ought not be manufactured to be or do what someone else envisions as good. Therefore, your "freedom" does not legitimately extend as far as you want it to.

    You grab for yourself an anarchy so you can experiment the way you want, but don't extend the same freedom to the results of the experiments. For if you did, you would not manufacture and use people in that way.

    If you want to live up to the website name of REASON, you really have to stop contradicting yourselves.

    Another related thing: What if they didn't like what you made them to be? What if they bristle at the fact you destroyed numerous imperfect siblings in the attempt to get them -- would they not fear for their lives or at least for your affections should they prove to be imperfect in some way? What if they rebel against you, and use their superior brains and bodies to destroy you and your work and your vision, if for no other reason than to punish you for what you did? When you fix the genes, make sure you put in one that makes them submissive to your will, for if you make them FREE like you think you are, they will inevitably hate you and destroy you, but they will be only imitating you.

    By the way, good distinctions Duane.

  • abercrombie milano||

    I'm not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It's just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight...the Bible's books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on...the Bible's books were written by people with very different mindsets

  • nike shox||

    is good

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