The Embryo Eaters:
A Bioethical Thought Experiment

General Bioethics — By on April 28, 2005 at 12:18 am

The following thought experiment is used to explore some basic assumptions currently held in the field of bioethics. As with any such hypothetical scenario, a certain degree of liberty is taken with what is considered within the realm of possibility. Some people may complain that I have stretched outside the normal parameters in order to make a point.
I completely agree.
Unfortunately, we live in an age in which many people consider it ethical to destroy ‘



  • http://www.philnicholas.com Phil in CA

    Ban the whole disgusting mess on the grounds that, like any other compound, it can be isolated and either synthesized or extracted from other natural sources. Insulin is one example, and this situation is no different. Or at least that would be my answer as chair of the President

  • http://bevets.com/grapevine.htm bevets

    Phil in CA
    Ban the whole disgusting mess on the grounds that, like any other compound, it can be isolated and either synthesized or extracted from other natural sources. Insulin is one example, and this situation is no different. Or at least that would be my answer as chair of the President

  • George

    This says it all, I think.

  • http://lespritdescalier.blogspot.com jpe

    Fun question. That’s all for now.

  • http://www.blestwithsons.com blestwithsons

    Holy Hand Grenades, GM!! That essay is sheer brilliance! Now why didn’t I write it! ( cue sound of blestwithsons smacking own forehead)

  • Nick

    Assume that the miracle cure has eluded synthetic isolation. Dont duck the question. Why do you find this ‘disgusting’?
    Why should whether or not a practice is “disgusting” be considered by the President’s Council on Bioethics? Shouldn’t they be considering whether the practice harms or destroys human beings, whether it exploits people, whether it is safe, whether it is effective, etc.
    Reasons for disgust may be impossible to articulate, but its not obvious that they have any bearing on whether or not the practice is moral.
    I would note that I am also repulsed by the concept of eating the placenta, although as Joe points out, that practice has some history, is common in other mammals, and does not have any obvious ethical or moral problems.
    Many non-Christians, starting with some Roman commentators, have expressed disgust at the Christian practice of Communion, which they view as bizarre, ritualized cannibalism. Their disgust has zero effect on whether we view the practice as moral.
    Many vegetarians are completely repulsed by the idea of butchering and eating other mammals. As an unreconstructed omnivore, I find their squeamishness morally unconvincing.
    Disgust and squeamishness are piss poor ways to evaluate morality.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com mumon

    Is it in the embryo or the placenta?
    Look, the moral of the tale is quite simple, and it’s not pretty: The placenta would not have it place taken by an embryo, (placentas have somewhat different biomedical properties than emgroys) for the purpose of which you’re speaking.
    So we have to speculate as to why you would pose this thought experiment. And the answer that one can come to is you’d like to equate eating placentas with stem cell research in a “yicky” way. But they’re clearly different, and obviously physicians would have avoided using embryos (f the could, for stem cell research. Your deity, btw, aborts 2/3 of all embroys spontaneously.
    But let me answer your question as to “how I’d advise the president.” Sort of. In a roundabout way, I’ll tell folks a very practical use for this post. This is a true story, I kid you not; I can produce witnesses.
    In the early 1990s Manhattan had – and probably still does- a variety of roast chicken fast food outlets. These were small chains, often run by people of Mideast descent, with names like the The Chirpin’ Chicken.
    Having been relatively new to living in NYC at the time, I looked up some old friends who’d been living there a bit longer; we went out to eat in a nice Italian place on the Upper East Side, where I lived.
    The food was great, and the service OK given the restuarant was crowded to the gills, but the wait for the check was interminable. It was then that our discussion shifted to roast chicken fast food joints, something that I previously hadn’t seen in major cities. “Why don’t ‘right to life’ folks, if they so oppose abortions, open a chain of fast food roast fetus joints?” one of our party said. “Yes, you can call it “For Christ Steaks” another chimed in. We waxed long and loud about what offerings this imaginary restuarant would serve, or at least long enough until a waitress rushed over with a check.
    So the moral of the story is: use riffs like this post to speed up otherwise sluggish service in restuaurants.

  • Rob Ryan

    To even participate in this puerile exercise would dignify the weakest of slippery-slope arguments. This is even worse than the “gay marriage leads to bestiality” tripe.

  • http://www.pseudopolymath.com/archives/2005/04/morning_links_4_21.html Pseudo-Polymath

    Morning Links 4/28

    Gooood mornin. From Big Arm Woman (Tightly Wound) comes a very funny twisted cliff note summary of Beowulf … LOL. (HT: Peter Epps at Comment Me No Comments). Now that could be a theme for a short post, summarize a…

  • http://johncoleman.typepad.com John

    Rob, I think, perhaps, you missed the point. What Joe is describing is essentially the basis of embryo research, except that stem cells are acquired through a more refined process than eating. I could be wrong, but I think this is analogy, not slippery slope.

  • http://ex-leper.blogspot.com/2005/04/screwtape-revisited.html Naaman the Ex-Leper

    Screwtape Revisited

    What’s my answer? Ban embryo eating. Humans have the right to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, a basic principle that was fully and unequivocally established by Christ’s death on the Cross. This is why organ donation, blood donation, and othe…

  • Nick

    I could be wrong, but I think this is analogy, not slippery slope.
    Or maybe half of an analogy. Transplanting ES cells is to eating embryos as…. what?
    transplanting ES cells:eating embryos::blood transfusions:drinking blood
    The fact that eating embryos and drinking blood seems icky doesn’t tell us much about the morality of transplanting ES cells or transfusing blood.

  • http://prosthesis.blogspot.com Macht

    Rob, this isn’t really a slippery slope argument. The purpose of JOe’s post was not to say “If we allow embryonic stem cell research today, it will lead to cannibalism, therefore we shouldn’t do it.” Rather, I see it as an attempt to test the consistency of the pro-ESCR position and line of reasoning.
    John, it isn’t really an analogy, either. It’s just an ethical dilemma designed to see the kinds of reasons that would be used to either justify or reject cannibalism-for-medicinal-purposes.

  • Kevin W

    I’m still trying to formulate a response to the original question, but I feel it’s safe to posit this much, right now: Mumon has some pretty stupid friends. And, you know what they say, “A man is known by the . . .”, hell, you know the rest.

  • Rob Ryan

    Hmm…you’re right, John; I did at least partially miss the point. Thanks!
    There is still an element of slippery slope present in his suggestion that the practice might be extended in ways that many who would otherwise support the practice would find offensive. It was this point (in addition to missing a sentence in Joe’s preface) that made me think it was another abortion post.

  • Rick C

    ethical issues like this are interesting to me. as a Christian I have personal believes that affect my life. However when it comes to national directives, while I think it would be great if everyone thought like I do, it is just not true. So how do we make a moral decision here without simply putting our own morality on others like Mumon. I think we need to have consistent connections between one rule and another. What would be the rule that connects with this? I’ll leave it here since I have to go for now.

  • JCHFleetguy

    Brilliant thought experiment and it is nice to see Screwtape – like seeing an old fiend again. (I do not think too many apologies are need to CS)
    To the issue posed: I believe if I were on the President’s council (the only rational assumption here is that it is a pro-death (er choice) president). I would allow it along with stem-cell research; but only with placentas from live births and left-over embryos from fertility clinics. The science is clear and tested. As a member of the National Academy of Sciences I obviously do not believe in God. The only issues are political.
    We do have to keep in mind that all the self-described atheists, agnostics, humanists, secularists, and people with no religious leaning put together only comprise less than 15% of the population; and that 75% consider themselves christians. We also have to keep in mind that some polls put Americans who think abortion needs to be restricted or stopped as high as 72%.
    I would advise the President that to go further – without an obvious political mandate – would only further divide an already divided country over abortion. We expected that the country would adapt to Roe, but the opposite has occurred – voters opposed to abortion are rising not falling. We are already on the verge of having to step back from our party’s stand for abortion on demand in order to win another election.
    Obviously, “eating” the results of an abortion wouldn’t make that problem any better – and would lose him the next election and probably destroy our party.
    Paying people to donate naturally fertilized eggs has no meaningful separation from the abortion argument above – and would only be worse because it would appear you are paying people to increase abortion numbers. I do not believe collecting unfertilized eggs and sperm and putting them together ourselves would work out much better.
    The foolish argument that the pro-life folk’s “God” kills a bunch of the embryos anyway so why worry about a few more (you hicks) certainly is satisfying – but would again turn your party into the permanent minority party.
    Long-term, we can use our national science curriculum support to begin to educate in the schools on the progressive nature of this research and the benefits to mankind. Try to get a National Geographic article. Typical PBS stuff. Maybe a movie or two – you know action drama to save person but only limited amount of life-saving embryo soup available.
    We will need to get a test case going while we still control the Supreme Court for not being able to block the education we desire because it violates the separation of church and states.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    To the issue posed: I believe if I were on the President’s council (the only rational assumption here is that it is a pro-death (er choice) president). I would allow it along with stem-cell research; but only with placentas from live births and left-over embryos from fertility clinics. The science is clear and tested. As a member of the National Academy of Sciences I obviously do not believe in God. The only issues are political.
    Maybe I’m confused, what is it the offers magical cures? The embryos or the placentas?

  • JCHFleetguy

    An enzyme in the placenta that is also in the embryos in a more concentrated form

  • http://reasonableforce.org/weblog SCPanther

    The issue is beautifully summarized by the Screwtape illustration. It’s not a slippery slope. It’s simply the question of the ethics of sacrificing one set of human lives for another set of human lives who have more power. That is the issue in this thought experiment and it is the issue in ES cell research.
    As usual, the question ultimately comes down to the basis by which you determine what is and is not a human life and how much intrinsic worth you assign it. Where we disagree on those questions we will disagree here.
    My advice to the president would be to ban this procedure as well as the sale or purchase of embryos for any purpose. This decision would be based on the unique stamp of God on the human organism and the monstrous implications of treating human life as a commodity.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    My advice to the president would be to ban this procedure as well as the sale or purchase of embryos for any purpose. This decision would be based on the unique stamp of God on the human organism and the monstrous implications of treating human life as a commodity.
    But, like our current President, you have no problem with fertility clinics flushing unused embroys down the toilet?

  • JCHFleetguy

    Stepping out of my screwtape hat: Do you have a problem with experimenting on human dead as opposed to just burying them?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    No I don’t. I feel it is proper to require that experiments on the dead are done in a respectful manner (in other words, the body should be given a decent burial when the experiment is finished etc.) but I have no ethical problem with experimenting on dead bodies.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    But since we are talking about a hypothetical example that is supposed to relate to embrodic stem cell research….why is it ok for fertility clinics to create fertilized embroys they know are just going to be destroyed but not for research to be done on those embroys before they are destroyed?

  • JCHFleetguy

    Then I think SCPanther had this right: This argument is based on an underlying ethical view about human life; what it means; and how it should be honored. We will probably never agree on any number of issues until we find some common ground on the underlying view.

  • http://johncoleman.typepad.com John

    Incidentally, am I the only person here concerned with precisely what kind of research Joe was doing when he found the above-linked article on placenta consumption? Weird, Joe. Weird.

  • http://www.blestwithsons.com blestwithsons

    Boonton, you know that scpanther did NOT say that. I think it is implicit in his statements about the worth of human life that he would not and does not support the flushing of human embryos.

  • http://www.blestwithsons.com blestwithsons

    And personally, I do not support the “creation” of fertilized embryos outside the womb for any purpose. My heart breaks for those who struggle with infertility, but I believe that the authorship of life is God’s purview and we were better off not messing with it. Talk about slippery slopes… We didn’t have to have arguments like this when we didn’t try to play God in the first place with forcing conception in unnatural forms. (why do I have the feeling that I just painted a target on myself?)

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    But isn’t it odd that there is, as far as I can tell, no significant movement to regulate fertility clinics so as to prevent or at least limit the creationof unused embryos? The fire appears to be concentrated on preventing research on embryos that have already been slated for destruction…as if those embryos would be allowed to develop if the research wasn’t done!
    If its unethical to use embryos for life saving research then how can it be justified to ignore their use in a medical procedure which is not life-saving or even vital. Before you say you don’t ignore their use let me ask you where are the major pro-life groups on this? I never even hear of a proposed law on this matter.

  • JCHFleetguy

    You trying to aim all the sanctity of life people at fertility clinics?
    I am a women who gives you a bunch of my eggs to fertilize – knowing that I only want one child and that many eggs may have to be used to accomplish this. I want a child so bad I will go through this process to accomplish this. Extra eggs are fertile that I do not need.
    The underlying reason these eggs are fertilized is a good – almost all medical advance is good (intelligence, desire for knowledge and creativity being God given gifts); and the desire of a mother with good eggs and bad fallopian tubes to have children is good. Science helping her do that still works for me.
    So now we come to moral dilemma: We had to overfertilize as a necessity of the process – what do we do with the “extras”? I guarantee the mother sees that embryo replanted in her womb (or someone else’s) as life. Why are the unimplanted ones any less alive? The toilet may seem less respectful to you than scientific research – but is it?
    Evil comes when good is corrupted – not on its own. Morals are knowing when that line is crossed. Where is that line for you?

  • JCHFleetguy

    And the political answer:
    Why split the focus away from abortion where we are gradually winning – to fertility clinics that I am not sure even half of christians would oppose? Take on one evil at a time; and the greater evil to start.

  • http://reasonableforce.org/weblog SCPanther

    Boonton: But, like our current President, you have no problem with fertility clinics flushing unused embroys down the toilet?
    Boonton, that’s not a reasonable inference from my comment. As blestwithsons said, I am absolutely opposed to any method of dealing with infertility that creates embryos beyond that which will be carried to term.
    If it’s consistency of position you’re looking for, I believe I have it. But how many battles would you have us fight, particularly since abortion is easily the most morally obvious of the pro-life issues and we haven’t managed to put a stop to even that?
    Admittedly, the existence of thousands (I don’t know the actual number, but surely that’s safe?) of excess embryos is problematic. Would that they hadn’t been created. Since they have been, however, the only ethical option, in my view, is to first stop creating more, and second to begin using them for implantation in women who want children and are willing to carry them to term.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    So now we come to moral dilemma: We had to overfertilize as a necessity of the process – what do we do with the “extras”? I guarantee the mother sees that embryo replanted in her womb (or someone else’s) as life. Why are the unimplanted ones any less alive? The toilet may seem less respectful to you than scientific research – but is it?
    Over fertilizing means we know it is almost certain that many of the embryos will die. Since we had a choice in fertilizing the embryos to begin with can we say that is morally neutral? From my understanding of the science, an embryo can only remain frozen for about 5 years before it begins to break down (die in other words). Hence we cannot just keep them frozen forever hoping that someday volunteer women (or artificial wombs) will come along to give them life.
    Why split the focus away from abortion where we are gradually winning – to fertility clinics that I am not sure even half of christians would oppose? Take on one evil at a time; and the greater evil to start.
    If we are talking about stem cell research then my understanding is that all or nearly all of the embryos would be coming from fertility clinics…not abortions. How is destroying thousands of embryos for no particular reason a lesser evil than destroying some for life saving research? It would seem a consistent opinion would be to first oppose the creation of ‘extra embryos’ for anything other than research…even if this caused fertility clinics to have much lower success rates. Then oppose the research.

  • JCHFleetguy

    SCPanther:
    Wow: neither flush or research! The options we find when we start to look for ways to value life.

  • JCHFleetguy

    Boonton:
    Do not take my political argument and ignore the politics in it. Why split effort from one we are starting to win?
    You, however, are welcome to start building political action against fertility clinics; and educating mothers to be satisfied with adoption – if this is the more important issue to you. Perhaps, you can also find someone doing research into why 70% of embryos die – and donate to help that research.
    From your repeated posts on early natural embryo death and scientific embryo use – God does seem to be placing this on your heart. Go with it.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    If God is placing anything in my heart its a desire to ask questions. I fully understand that people are free to choose their fights…yet that doesn’t mean they are inconsistent. Because a person chooses to volunteer their time helping 10 people in a clinic doesn’t mean that person believes it is less important that a ship carrying fresh water to 1,000 tsunammi survivors arrives on time.
    It appears wildly inconsistent for a pro-life President & organizations to get up in arms over stem cell research while fertility clinics are consigned to the back burner. As policy makers these people have a job to choose the priorities & their choices seem suspect.

  • http://reasonableforce.org/weblog SCPanther

    JCHFleetGuy: So now we come to moral dilemma: We had to overfertilize as a necessity of the process – what do we do with the “extras”?
    That’s the crux of the matter, JCH… “as a necessity of the process,” perhaps, but is the process itself necessary?
    I suggest that the root of the problem is that, in all things, but certainly when it comes to having children, we have made our desires paramount over an older view that accepted conception as the province of God. Clearly I’m speaking primarily of believers here.
    The modern Christian (or postmodern, if you will) determines when and if they will have children, and how many. Soon they will choose whether they will have a boy or a girl, if they’re not already. Soon after, they will determine in advance hight, hair color, and whether they prefer athletic or musical aptitude.
    If our career goals are incompatible with children we use birth control. If, when we’re ready, children are not forthcoming, we go to the fertility clinic. When we’re ready to stop having children we undergo surgery.
    I’m not arguing against examinations and/or treatments to make sure all our parts are in working order, but beyond that I would suggest that we have lost the view of children as blessings bestowed upon us by God and view them, rather, as something to which we are entitled when we’re good and ready and only in the quantities with which we’re comfortable.
    This is one area in which we have adopted the world’s view of things without even blinking. When we begin to examine the extensions of our arguments against some of these more abominable practices, however, our error is brought to light.
    Understand, please, that I am not condemning any and all fertility treatments. In a fallen creation it is difficult at times to know how far to go in correcting things that don’t seem to be working as they should. Where my wife and I draw the line is any procedure that would require artificial fertilization. Each one’s conscience would have to advise them in this.
    With reference to my implantation comments in the above comment, I surely don’t view that as an optimal means of becoming pregnant and having children. It seems the best available option, however, when compared with destroying the embryos that already exist.

  • JCHFleetguy

    Boonton:
    Since I doubt you consider yourself pro-life; and assume you are in favor of generally unrestricted abortions – we do not even have a common moral viewpoint on which we can discuss moral consistancy (mine or yours). So, present your views and defend them – do not probe my moral consistancy.
    I will discuss my moral consistancy with people I share a common moral viewpoint with – SC, Blestwith, etc. We struggle everyday to apply God’s word to our lives and to live as consistantly as we can; because living consistantly is impossible (hence grace)
    I think your desire to point out inconsistancies is a desire to establish your superiority; or lower us to your level. You are here to get your political rocks off – not to learn or teach.

  • JCHFleetguy

    SCPanther:
    Thank you – in this day of moral relativism it is why believers need to study the word, discuss issues, etc. The world, flesh, and Screwtape bombard us everyday with slippery slopes of every size and appearance.
    On top of that, there is the question of our personal relationship with God and our responsibiilites as citizens. We are not supposed to force our beliefs on others by law – but must vote our conscience and keep the same from happening to us. Again, a large area for us to discuss.
    To a very liberal minority, our faith seems ridiculous, superstitious, and outdated. Their “progressive” ideas are modern and scientific – and they are arrogant and wrong.
    Teach me, and maybe I can teach you – and may we all get what we teach from God

  • http://reasonableforce.org/weblog SCPanther

    JCH, thanks for your kind comments. Give Boonton credit for this, though: he is right to link the issues. The challenge on IVF has been raised before in this forum, but it’s still one that many on the pro-life side would be hesitant to deal with.
    As we’ve pointed out, if any political figure were to dare suggest a ban on IVF… wow. I don’t think even anything from the past election campaign would compare to the beating they would take in the press and in public opinion.
    As you say, though, my first concern is that we in the Church have truly not examined ourselves carefully enough on this issue.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Since I doubt you consider yourself pro-life; and assume you are in favor of generally unrestricted abortions – we do not even have a common moral viewpoint on which we can discuss moral consistancy (mine or yours). So, present your views and defend them – do not probe my moral consistancy.
    This is a nice formula for moral relativism on your part. If I don’t agree with your ‘moral framework’ then you are automatically immune from any inconsistency. YOu asked for my argument so here it is:
    It is illogical to assert that stem cell research on embryos that would have otherwise been destryed is immoral yet destroying embryos for a non-life saving, optional, medical procedure is ok.
    If you assume an embryo is equal to a human beign (an unsettled question) you can still mount an argument for legal abortion (which I’ve presented on other comment threads). If pro-lifers are to be taken seriously then they should respond to valid criticisms and questions…even if they are coming from non-pro-lifers.

  • JCHFleetguy

    I honestly dont know where I stand on IVF. I truly believe scientific skill and understanding is a gift from God – something good which can be corrupted to evil.
    Where in the process is that line? I am actually ok with artificial insemination and fertilization. The process is called into question by the unimplanted, fertilized embryos – but as our friend Boonton points out 70% of those die in God’s plan.
    Those two things struggle in me: God is a rational God; and created a rational universe. He incited us with a curiosity to examine and understand his creation. He ordered us to command, use and protect it.
    And he ordered us to do that in wisdom and righteousness. IVF sits very close to my good science/evil corruption line.

  • JCHFleetguy

    Boonton:
    I can deal with your opinions. As SC points out it raises questions for me to ponder.
    But morals …. We have to share some common belief structure to even have a conversation.
    Do you believe in a creative, personal God? For me yes
    Do you believe your actions today have eternal consequences – even those actions which do not harm anyone but yourself? Yes
    Do you believe your body is yours to do with as you wish? No
    Do you believe it is right to fail to mention to those around you that their actions may have negative eternal consequences? No
    Again, I love political debate with those who I do not agree with – because we must find solutions that work as well as possible for everyone. Bring on your opinions – but do not tell me how to process my political priorities.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Where in the process is that line? I am actually ok with artificial insemination and fertilization. The process is called into question by the unimplanted, fertilized embryos – but as our friend Boonton points out 70% of those die in God’s plan.
    Those two things struggle in me: God is a rational God; and created a rational universe. He incited us with a curiosity to examine and understand his creation. He ordered us to command, use and protect it.

    Or is it God’s plan? Until insulin was developed diabetics also died quickly and painfully yet we do not believe the development was thwarting God’s plans. A research effort to prevent spontaneous abortion would most likely consume great resources, result in many more children with birth defects and serious illnesses but is something that can be done. Are we obligated to do it despite these costs in order to give at least some of that 70% a better shot? Or can we state, like Mr. Ed has hinted, that at least a chunk of that 70% isn’t really human life but life that failed to develop into a human.
    I don’t think it is a matter of telling people what their political priorities should be but a matter of arriving at a sensible list of what should and shouldn’t be priorities. If the pro-life side is willing to write off the 70% who die ‘naturally’ as well as those who are killed by the processes at fertility clinics then why should I take them seriously when talking about birth control pills and early term abortions?

  • giddyyup

    “When such views are so commonly accepted it

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    I suggest that the root of the problem is that, in all things, but certainly when it comes to having children, we have made our desires paramount over an older view that accepted conception as the province of God. Clearly I’m speaking primarily of believers here.
    The ‘older view’ was not as idyllic as you suggest. The raw economics of the past was quite simply that children were productive workers after just a minor investment in raising them when they were very young. People saught to control fertility thru various folk methods yet their efforts were nowhere near as successful as they are today.
    Ever hear of the orphan trains? Orphans were loaded onto trains and sent out west like shoes in a Salvation Army dumpster. Farmers would pluck the kids they wanted at each stop and ‘adopt’ them so they could have more helpers. Need I say anything about child labor in the industrial factories of the cities?
    Children were viewed as a blessing from God but so was a good crop. It was very common for many to have a much more crass attitude towards children in the distant past than today when kids are nearly completly pampered.

  • JCHFleetguy

    I already answered the insulin one. I think all good things come from God – including scientific inquiry and the desire to understand his creation. On a general level, I would say that things which aid life are good (insulin, understanding nutrition, medicine) and things which destroy or corrupt life are bad (abortion, illegal drugs). That was general.
    I would think scientists trying to figure out why those 70% of naturally fertilized embroyos die is a good thing. I lean toward IVF being a good thing, except for the embryo’s that must be destroyed. I say this because the scientist is using his God-given (whether they see it as God-given or not) scientific gifts to help other people promote life.Is this consistent in God’s eyes? SC will work on me – as, more importantly, will God. Will I be judged by pro-choice folk on my position on abortion because I cannot find adequate “consistancy” on IVF and SC research? No.
    Abortion takes one of the 30% that is implanted, and developing – and 95% of the time kills it for reasons having nothing to do with the future objective mental or physical life of the mother or child – simply for matters of convenience of some sort. Way different world
    While SC is correct to point out that I should have a consistent view on IVF and SC – I am not worried about the consistancy of my morals living up to the expectations of someone who largely accepts abortion. That has crossed the line into deflection of the issue; not understanding

  • http://www.gryphmon.com Patrick

    Wasn’t this that episode of Babylon 5 where the evil alien war criminal offered to provide a secret elixir that granted immortality? Only it turned out it required an ingredient that could only be obtained through the death of another living being. They accepted the offer, but then the Vorlons came in and blew up the alien war criminal real good.
    Wait, that can’t be right, that would mean that an ethical question would actually have been discussed in the liberal, godless, secular media. And on TV to boot.

  • Kevin W

    Would we be having the debate at all if the magical cures lay not in human embryos, but in dolphin embryos? How about from the harvesting of bald eagle eggs?

  • JCHFleetguy

    Oh the liberals would go crazy over whales and bald eagles – Earth First would be blowing up clinics. And what if the secret was in the bark of old growth trees.
    And yes, there is a difference between bald eagles and humans – huge difference.

  • Septeus7

    What slippery slope morons? This isn’t a hypothetical but an actuality. Eating Embryos/Fetuses is common in China for many years now. Hundreds of millions of people eat human embryos. If abortion is okay what possible wrong could had with eating embryos? They’re good eats. Does Mr. Ryan’s ignorance of what takes place outside of his ivory tower have no limit?

  • Rob B

    Mumon,
    That was a truly repugnant and disgusting story. The fact that you would discuss such while in a restaurant is clear evidence that you have a mental disorder. It also shows you are clearly jaded and cynical about a very somber, brutal and sad practice (try to get this–abortion; it’s not funny, at all). How about if you just go off and chant ohm, and get in touch with “your deity.” and spare us the crass piles of crap. But then I guess you’d just be talking to yourself, as usual. If what you are is opposite of a “right to lifer”, then I am happy to don the label. Thanks for making me proud to be counted among them.

  • http://decorabilia.blogspot.com Jim Anderson

    Septeus7, you are joking, right? The baby-eating urban legend is just that, a sick joke.

  • JCHFleetguy

    but then -
    Boonton might argue that the fetuses are after all dead; and aren’t coming back to life. If they are nutritional, and people are starving ….

  • http://closedcafeteria.blogspot.com Gerald Augustinus Naus

    and once Jonathan Swift only thought of that in terms of satire !
    It’s nice to see how Evangelicals and us (faithful) Catholics agree on many things now :)
    So, in the spirit of ecumenism and shameless self promotion, check out my new Catholic blog ! ;o)
    http://closedcafeteria.blogspot.com

  • http://reasonableforce.org/weblog SCPanther

    To JCH: I don’t know that it’s up to me to “work on you” as you put it. I merely argue from my own convictions. I do believe that opposition to IVF is consistent with opposition to ESC research. While you view it as working toward life, I view it as an act of presumption and, to an extent, playing God.
    I agree with you, however, that it is difficult to figure out where the lines are, if there even are lines, on many issues that deal with this question of trusting in and relying on God, yet availing ourselves of the benefits of the knowledge He has allowed us to achieve.
    For example, I pay a premium for life insurance every month. It could be argued, not unreasonably, that God could be trusted to provide for my family in the event that I die. I happen to feel in this case that it is incumbent on me as provider to prepare for this possibility.
    At the same time, if some cataclysm were to occur and we were stripped of all financial means, I would trust in God’s provision and expect that our needs would be met. Easy words, so I’ll say that I hope I would, anyway!
    I fully believe that God’s providence is extended through modern mechanisms, though He certainly doesn’t require them. In matters of infertility, I would credit God with the greater understanding doctors have of the reproductive system and the methods they have developed or discovered to correct the problems they detect, so that the process can function as designed.
    In looking at IVF, however, what tips my opinion toward the “nay” side is what I view as the irresponsibility of creating human lives destined for destruction for the sake of one or two that you will keep.
    As you say, you and I, along with our brothers and sisters, will continue to try and seek the mind of Christ in this and all matters. If I’m in error, I pray that I will become aware of it for the sake of the joy that many have experienced in having children as a result of IVF.

  • JCHFleetguy

    That was “SC” in the body of christ sense – not the personal sense – I look to other beievers for their insight to His word (cause I do not “get it” alot)
    Lucky for us, it is God that decides not us based on the heart.
    Another blog I comment on – the favorite term for fetuses is “pre-human” life. That certainly removes them from societal qualms about cannabalism – you are not after all eating a human, but a pre-human.
    I admit the same difficulty as Boonton: I sometimes have a hard time understanding where the moral lines of pro-choice folks are drawn.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Another blog I comment on – the favorite term for fetuses is “pre-human” life. That certainly removes them from societal qualms about cannabalism – you are not after all eating a human, but a pre-human.
    Cannabalism has nothing to do with eating a live human. Whether or not you consider an embryo ‘pre-human’ eating it would remain cannabalism just as much as eating someone’s finger would be cannabalism.
    I admit the same difficulty as Boonton: I sometimes have a hard time understanding where the moral lines of pro-choice folks are drawn.
    Isn’t it easy to make fun of others when your own lines are rather blurry? Anyway if you draw the line at fertilization then what would you make of a treatment that required eating unfertilized eggs?
    The two camps appear to be divided between those who have solid lines (and who usually, but not always, draw the line at fertiliziation or implantation) and those who view the line as more of a process with a period of ‘inbetweenness’.

  • Larry Lord

    “A guild of midwives has adapted the obscure practice of eating the placenta and used it as a cure for some forms of minor debilitating afflictions.”
    Mommy Lord, a nurse, had an experience with a couple many years ago who requested that the placenta be saved for consumption.
    A lot of mammals eat their placentas — I think even some otherwise vegetarian mammals.
    I’m not a big fan of eating kidneys, which is probably the closest thing taste and texture-wise.

  • Larry Lord

    “My advice to the president would be to ban this procedure as well as the sale or purchase of embryos for any purpose. This decision would be based on the unique stamp of God on the human organism and the monstrous implications of treating human life as a commodity.”
    Oh, you mean the implications on which the United States — a nation allegedly founded on “Christian principles” if we believe Roy Moore and Jim Dobson — were founded?
    Those implications? The implications that the South fought for so desperately?
    Stamp of God. Right.

  • JCHFleetguy

    Boonton:
    Cannalbalism is usually the eating of dead humans – but if a fetus is human, why is abortion right? And if the fetus is pre-human (not yet human), why would it be cannabalism? If it is pre-human (not yet human) why instead of throwing it in the trash don’t we find some useful way to recycle it?
    You really dont have to answer – I made it clear we do not have the common ground to discuss this kind of moral issue. I think these question for the pro-choice crowd are very close to the same category of your SC/IVF question for the pro-life crowd

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Cannalbalism is usually the eating of dead humans – but if a fetus is human, why is abortion right? And if the fetus is pre-human (not yet human), why would it be cannabalism?
    If it is pre-human then it is tissue from the mother’s body (plus a tiny bit of tissue from the sperm that made it). Wouldn’t you agree that eating unfertilized human eggs would be cannalbalism but wouldn’t be killing a human?
    You really dont have to answer – I made it clear we do not have the common ground to discuss this kind of moral issue.
    Your definition of common ground seems to be “agree with everything I say”.

  • JCHFleetguy

    No, not anymore than eating the skin cells you pick up in a kiss; or some other human to human cell exchanges by mouth.

  • Larry Lord

    “You really dont have to answer – I made it clear we do not have the common ground to discuss this kind of moral issue.”
    What a bizarre thing for one human being to say to another.

  • Larry Lord

    “No, not anymore than eating the skin cells you pick up in a kiss; or some other human to human cell exchanges by mouth.”
    News flash: you eat dead human skin cells all the time. Also airborn particles of human feces.
    Isn’t science wonderful?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Individual skin cells are too small to really count as eating. You’re just playing word games here to no real end. Canabalism is eating human tissue so eating a placenta, whether or not you think it involves killing a human, would fall under canabalism.

  • JCHFleetguy

    Boonton: So make eating placentas illegal – I do not care.
    Larry Lord: So canabalism has no meaning – just some other human tissue like you are already eating? You tell me what counts.

  • JCHFleetguy

    Oh, just so we know this moral relativism about canabalism isn’t just me: Look at Is eating people wrong?

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com mumon

    Boonton :
    Actually it’s a huge cultural thing everywhere. It’s done in China.
    But then again, the Chripin’ Chicken is only in Manhattan.
    Kevin W:
    I guess I won’t be seeing you at Masa anytime soon.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com mumon

    JCHFleetguy:
    It’s certainly not Kosher, and does run the risk of Koro.
    (Must…not…refer…to…transubstantiation…)

  • JCHFleetguy

    Probably need to go to a catholic blog to bait the transubstantiation hook boss

  • http://reasonableforce.org/weblog SCPanther

    JCH: That was “SC” in the body of christ sense – not the personal sense
    Oops! Pardon my presumption.

  • JCHFleetguy

    no it was my lack of clarity – and your understanding of what we believe has given me a very constructive headache

  • George Maddox

    Placenta DNA belongs to the baby, not the mother.
    G.M.

  • Mr Ed

    Your deity, btw, aborts 2/3 of all embroys spontaneously.
    Really? Are you sure about that? How do you know any “deity” is causing that?
    This is a true story, I kid you not; I can produce witnesses.
    Will they all be nameless internet users?

  • http://www.blestwithsons.com blestwithsons

    JCH – I gotta know… what does “SC” in the body of Christ sense mean?

  • http://alangrey.blogspot.com/2005/04/life-designer-babies-and-thought.html Alan Grey

    In somewhat ironic timing, the UK has just released the findings of 5 Lords reviewing the creation of designer babies for the purpose of curing people.
    You can read about it Here
    We are closer to Joe’s thought experiment than he probably realized when he wrote it.

  • JCHFleetguy

    EEEK Im sorry
    I said “SC will work on me”
    SC rightly said “I don’t know that it’s up to me to “work on you” as you put it”
    I said I really didnt mean him personally but the body of christ

  • egw

    Embryoes make great gazpacho.

  • Larry Lord

    If forced to eat one or the other, would you eat a human placenta or a baby chimp?

  • http://blogotional.blogspot.com/2005/04/dilemma.html Blogotional

    A Dilemma

    I give this response to be fair to the question as posed. In “real life” I would probabaly resign the advisor role because I could not in good conscience advise the president in the manner I just described.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Boonton: So make eating placentas illegal – I do not care.
    Larry Lord: So canabalism has no meaning – just some other human tissue like you are already eating? You tell me what counts.

    Well since you mentioned the subject why would canabalism be illegal? I’m sure there’s probably something in Leviticus against it (if you can’t eat pork then why is it ok to eat dead bodies?)…however the Jewish dietary laws recognize life as the most important value so if it was a matter of saving a life a person could eat pork (BTW, do blood transfusions count as cannabalism? I think that aside from Jahovah’s Witnesses, most religions permit transfusions when necessary.)…likewise if it would save a life a person could eat another human body. The question comes down to whether or not you’re killing another human, not to whether or not you’re committing cannabalism.
    Oh, just so we know this moral relativism about canabalism isn’t just me: Look at Is eating people wrong?
    If I say it is wrong how am I being relativistic? If I say it is not wrong how am I being relativistic? If you want me to give an answer I’d say it is ok in a life or death situation (such as the famous case of the soccar team whose plane crashed on a remote mountain) & most religions would probably agree with me. The issue is not relevant to Joe’s hypothetical since its premise is that the placenta cure saves lives.

  • JCHFleetguy

    A placenta is human tissue – not a human being. I do not buy eating placenta as canabalism – any more than if you ate human excrement. My wife had to drink here own urine in college medical training.
    So I guess both of you would advocate using aborted fetuses to feed the world’s hungry instead of throwing them away.
    I am BTW out of this discussion. You guys are some sick puppies (from my purely moralistic, backwards, reactionary viewpoint)

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Eating human tissue isn’t canabalism? What if you ate a human kidney? Is that not canabalism?

  • Rob Ryan

    “Septeus7, you are joking, right? The baby-eating urban legend is just that, a sick joke.”
    I’m afraid Septeus7 is not joking, Jim. He despises me because I am an educator, and he rarely passes up an opportunity to take a swipe at me. Of course, there would be some justice in that if I were in any way responsible for the deficiencies in HIS education.

  • Larry Lord

    “My wife had to drink here own urine in college medical training.”
    Um, what college was that?
    And please answer the question: human placenta versus fried baby chimp? Which would you choose (assume they taste the same and are equally nutricious)?

  • JCHFleetguy

    Sorry, framed question ignores previous answers and lacks intellectual honesty

  • AndyS

    [Larry: Urine therapy has been around for thousands of years and is practiced today. Not so shocking really (see any number of web sites) but hardly my cup of tea.]
    All the talk of canabalism is hard to stomach and not, I think, at all on topic. Seems like Joe was trying to talk about stemcell research by creating a shocking hypothetical.
    Joe, why not go with the real life case of IVF in which, as mentioned above, couples choose to create multiple embryos knowing that the majority will be destroyed?
    Why is it okay to destroy embryos when a couple is trying to have a child but not when a couple or single woman does not want to have a child? Why, in the case of IVF, does no one refer to the embryo as an unborn-child?

  • Louie Depalma

    And please answer the question: human placenta versus fried baby chimp? Which would you choose (assume they taste the same and are equally nutricious)?
    Larry, neither, but I’d take your brain in a pinch for a “light” meal!

  • Septeus7

    Quote” Septeus7, you are joking, right? The baby-eating urban legend is just that, a sick joke.”
    I wasn’t talking about Taiwan, idiot. I was talking about this http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/002/064rzgvz.asp
    and which mentions of the artist Zhu Hu like the urban legends site. The urban legends site doesn’t catagorically deny that Zhu Hu ate the fetus just that they don’t think he’s crebilible because he’s an Artist seeking attention.
    Also the article did not mention the my main source the EastWeek report of the Shenzhen Heath Centre for Women and Children or the sister publication Eastern Express.
    I’ve looked at the arguments against of the credibility of the EastWeek/Eastern Express story which was reproduced in the London Telepgraph and the Los Angeles Times (were I read it) without correction and there are frankly no credible arguments that the original report was factually wrong about the Shenzhen Heath Centre for Women and Children.
    There are only three arguments against the crebility of the story.
    1. That source was tabliod shaped newpaper which went bankrupt.
    This an argument is a combo logical fallacy of red herring with poisoning the well.
    2.The allegation that the author is racist becuase he wrote the article with beginning with this quote “No one could accuse The Chinese of being squeamish about the things they eat – monkeys’ brains, owls’ eyes, bears’ paws and deep fried scorpions are all items on The menu” which is somehow in absolute proof that is He’s a lier and a racist.
    This argument is poisoning the well along the non-sequitor “he said something sterotypical of Chinese therefore’s he a racist lier.” A very bad argument.
    3. There were reports of an investigation by the some international human right commission and we haven’t heard of anything since so it mustn’t have happened.
    This argument is an argument from ignorance coupled with a false appeal to authority.
    So what are the facts?
    1. Fetuses are part of Chinese Folk Medicine. This you cannot deny.**
    2. We have two reports of the Shenzhen Heath Centre suppling human fetuses for consumption
    one from the Eastern Express and the other from EastWeek.
    3. No crebilble denial from any party involved in the story.
    4. No retration from mainsteam source whose credibility is at stake.
    5. Retractors to the story are proven liers with
    an agenda and they unethically smear anyone they don’t like using invalid logic.
    6. A well known History of Cannibalism is mordern China*
    Consulsion: The story is likely true in the limited sense of folkmedicine and the urban legands site spins out another myth.
    * “Scarlet Memorial: Tales of Cannibalism in Modern China” by Zheng Yi.
    ** “Man as a Medicine: Pharmacological and Ritual Aspects of Traditional Therapy Using Drugs Derived from the Human Body,” in: Nakayama Shigeru and Nathan Sivin eds., Chinese Science
    The urban legand site is a great source of ignorance and misinformation. Ignore it along with anything by William Arens.

  • Septeus7

    Here’s a good article about Cannibalism: http://members.toast.net/rjspina/Modern%20Cannibalism.htm

  • http://lunarskeletons.blogspot.com Oengus Moonbones

    Joe Carter:

  • JCHFleetguy

    Nope, as long as you want it – and it doesn’t “hurt someone else” (you do have some latitude to edit this definition to suit you wanting it) its fine.

  • Rob Ryan

    I would encourage everyone to check out the link Septeus7 provides and see what he considers to be a reliable source of information.