Thursday, July 20, 2006


Stem cells, ethics and fear.

On Rod Dreher's "Crunchy Con" blog on Beliefnet, I waxed sarcastic about President Bush, "snowflake" children, and the expediency of politics (or is it the politics of expediency?). I've taken to consciously reexamining my positions whenever I get sarcastic, if only to make up for years of hypocrisy about the sarcasm of others... but I digress.

The first thing I noticed was how incredibly hypocritical Bush's rhetoric sounded to me. The first test tube baby, the opening shot in the in vitro fertilization war, was born June 25, 1978. I count 28 years during which I neither heard nor saw one public word of debate over the idea that viable embryos were immorally being created and destroyed. The issues in this are complex, the people who use IVF many times are anti-abortion, and there's plenty of room for otherwise well-meaning and sincere people to be hypocrites, but for one fact:

A frozen embryo could not have existed to begin with without arbitrary controls, and could never become a child without significant intervention during and after implantation. While I do not concede any points on the latter comparison point, the moral standing of a frozen embryo by definition is different from that of a naturally conceived embryo before, during and after natural implantation in the uterus.

Couple this with the pseudo-science and mass-marketing shenanigans of a White House ceremony to veto a bill from which it requires a huge leap in logic to talk about eugenics, euthanasia and cloning, and my cynicism starts to look damn close to reasonable.

If Bush's decision to veto was solely based on principle, as Mr. Dreher insists, explain to me please the media circus his staff created. Principles should not need to be sold. The act of selling immediately diminishes both the principle and the seller.

As my husband says, add to this the administration's policy of unjust war in Iraq, their refusal to ban the death penalty, and their insistance that Israel is within its rights (as long as they "don't kill civilians"--hah!), and the hypocrisy grows to demonstrate an interesting dichotomy on what defines "valuable life."

Obviously, embryos that will and likely can never become viable human lives, and that could potentially save millions of lives through stem cell research, are more valuable than Muslims and the potentially innocent people residing on Death Row.

Peace... I wish.
Part of the reason why this issue is so contentious is that, to someone who believes that life begins at conception, the concept of creating multitudes of embryos for any reason and then destroying them for stem cell research is tantamount to Swift's facetious essay about raising children to be butchered for meat.

I don't believe that scientists have no right to create life in a test tube, as most people who disagree with me would claim that I do. I honestly don't agree with them using a method that involves creating many human lives and then killing the 'inconvenient' ones.

To be fair, the strength of my pro-life opinions is affected by my being one of the 'inconvenient ones' that most pro-choice people I've spoken to would make a strong case towards aborting.
I read a great book about this - The Concentration Can. Little old, they weren't talking stem cells back in 1992, but very astute, author is an orthodox Catholic.
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