Hype and Hypocrisy:
Kinsley, IVF, and Embryo Destruction

Reproductive Technologies — By on July 10, 2006 at 1:12 am

The writings of Michael Kinsley, former editor of Slate and The New Republic, are often intelligent, insightful, and invariably, incorrect. His latest article for Slate, Science Fiction: What pro-lifers are missing in the stem-cell debate, is a prime example. Kinsley suffers from Parkinson’s and has an intimate stake in the potential cures provided by stem cell research. He admits that he is ‘



  • Gordon Mullings

    Hi Joe:
    Interesting post.
    I think your note here is telling:

    Considering that adult stem cells (ASCs) have already been used to treat Parkinson

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    While I don

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

    Victims? Don’t be melodramatic. Look down there. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you 20,000 pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money? Or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man, free of income tax. The only way you can save money nowadays. ~ Harry Lime

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

    Victims? Don’t be melodramatic. Look down there. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you 20,000 pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money? Or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man, free of income tax. The only way you can save money nowadays. ~ Harry Lime

  • http://noumignon.livejournal.com/ Noumenon

    I just want to say that you’re filling a very important niche with this post. Pro-abortion liberals and establishment conservatives are everywhere on the Web, making their points in editorials and blogs. Christians are nowhere by comparison. Whenever I want to find out what supporters of a position really think, I look for a blog by a member of that group who honestly believes what he’s saying. You’re being that member right now. (And by actually reading, acknowledging, and interacting with my side of things, you’re making your side look goooood.)
    Never heard anyone make the distinction between adult and embryonic stem cells in that way before, but I learned enough out of this article, Stem Cells: The Real Culprits in Cancer? that it makes sense.

  • http://rustylopez.typepad.com/imagoarticulus/ Rusty

    From William Saunder’s The Unchosen Frozen, in the March 2004 issue of Touchstone Magazine,

    IVF substitutes technology for the natural marital act. Oocytes are surgically removed from the wife and sperm is obtained from the husband (or sometimes from another male) by masturbation, and the two are then combined in a petri dish by a technician. The biological parents merely provide the

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Gordon
    It is clear that he truth has long since been suppressed in teh main stream media of the USA and elsewhere, distorting dialogue much less debate. [I think this is also the case on why there is so little public opposition to IVF — relatively few know about all those extra, non-implanted embryos. Guess why?]
    Hmmmm, except when the issue of embryo stem cell research comes up it is almost always mentioned that the embryos almost always come from extra IVF embryos that are destined to be, in Kinsley’s words:

    In any particular case, fertility clinics try to produce more embryos than they intend to implant. Then

  • nedbrek

    The ethical way to do IVF is to create one embryo at a time, wait some reasonable time for checking viability, and implant. Wait, and repeat. That is what I assumed these clinics were doing.
    I’ve only learned recently, that for economic reasons, they create many, implant several, in the hopes of one or two. That is much of the reason why we are seeing more twins and triplets…

  • nedbrek

    The ethical way to do IVF is to create one embryo at a time, wait some reasonable time for checking viability, and implant. Wait, and repeat. That is what I assumed these clinics were doing.
    I’ve only learned recently, that for economic reasons, they create many, implant several, in the hopes of one or two. That is much of the reason why we are seeing more twins and triplets…

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    The statements are clearly understood, and consistency on our part is certainly critical.
    One challenge we face in the arena of influence to get these things done is the power of the new neoliberal “Left” and how their near-fascist Hegelian outlook will affect people of faith and being heard in the public arena.
    http://www.ces.fe.uc.pt/bss/documentos/chapter1.pdf
    http://www.ces.fe.uc.pt/bss/documentos/chapter2.pdf
    Collin
    http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com/

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Fair enough nedbrek, but should the methods used today be made illegal? If not, why not and how can the pro-life movement reconcile that with their demands that abortion be made illegal.
    Remember, embryo stem cell research is done on embryos that are almost about to be flushed down the drain. The outcry against the research has been amazingly oblivious to the fact that the embryos are going to be destroyed no matter what.
    Colin
    One challenge we face in the arena of influence to get these things done is the power of the new neoliberal “Left” and how their near-fascist Hegelian outlook will affect people of faith and being heard in the public arena.
    Power of the ‘neoliberal left’? What world do you live in? The White House and Congress are firmly in Republican hands, and conservative Republicans at that. This has been the status quo for nearly a decade now. If you couldn’t ‘get things done’ it can hardly be blamed on a “Left”….neoliberal, liberal or whatnot.
    As for being heard in the public arena, the reason you are not is because you are not speaking. A President who declares himself pro-life and seeks the support of the major pro-life organizations and gets it publically praises the ‘good work’ IVF clinics do without even a side note as to ethical issue of the numerous ‘extra’ embryos they create.
    Are you telling me that Hegelian leftists have kidnapped the leaders of pro-life organizations and are preventing them from attacking IVF clinics?

  • ern

    I don’t know anyone who is pro-life who isn’t opposed to the way IVF is done. Kinsley’s article is pure foolishness, and shows he hasn’t really done his homework. He could have asked some pro-life people about this, but instead bases his argument on his perceptions–perceptions which are colored by his own beliefs concerning abortion and stem cell research.
    Opposition to IVF by pro-lifers isn’t even recent–the opposition has been there from the beginning. You have to wonder what planet Kinsley has been on.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Hmmmm, you don’t know anyone who is pro-life who is not opposed to the IVF industry. How about President George Bush who Kinsley noted praised the work of IVF clinics in his speech outlining his opposition to stem cell research. Off the top of my head I am hard pressed to recall a single article or report about pro-lifers protesting outside of IVF clinics. Yet every day they do so outside of abortion clinics. Are you sure it was Kinsley who didn’t do his homework?

  • Chris B

    Unfortunately, we have made a lot of noise over abortion and relatively little about IVF (in our defense, the one is, what, 30 years older, so time is certainly a factor), so lots of pro-lifers haven’t even been made aware of the situation (ditto with “the pill”).
    However, don’t let anyone take this too far — inconsistency on our part only means that pro-lifers are inconsistent (regarding IVF), not wrong (re: abortion).

  • http://www.gryphmon.com Patrick (gryph)

    Christian “activists” who block abortion clinic doors will never be morally belivable unless they also block the doors of infertility clinics. In fact many more lives would be saved if they blocked infertility clinics than traditional abortion providers.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Chris B, it’s not about whether pro-lifers being wrong. It is about why they are wrong. Are they wrong to accept IVF or are they wrong about abortion itself?
    This touches upon an argument that a few people here have brought up (yours truely being one but not the only). In human history unborn children have rarely, if ever, been considered human beigns and even in cases where they were it has been in later term pregnancies rather than the embryo state.
    Consider the fact that a miscarriage is almost never treated with as much gravity as the death of a born child. Even though they should technically be equal if we take pro-lifers at their word. Consider the fact that only a demented minority of the pro-life movement would subject a woman who got an abortion to charges of capital murder, yet it is routine for mothers who kill born children to be so charged. Consider the fact that a huge number of natural pregnancies end in miscarriage even before the mother is aware she is pregnant yet no one advocates spending serious money to stop this. In fact this is often celebrated as ‘nature’s way’ of getting rid of pregnancies that have problems….yet no one would celebrate disease among the born as ‘nature’s way’ of cleaning up.
    In other posts on other subjects Joe has argued that we should be respectful of gut instincts. In other words, take something like cannibalism. Even if we have trouble articulating a perfect argument against it we should note that our natural disgust at the practice hints that there is something wrong with it. The fact that we seem to have a natural aversion to truelly considering embryos human beigns might likewise hint that maybe they are not.
    In this light the inconsistency of the pro-life movement is not the problem, the inconsistency is a sign that something is wrong with their argument. In comparision, that we may feel disgust at the idea of cannibalism is not a sign that we have to get over it…it’s a sign that there’s something wrong with a proposal to alleviate hunger by grinding up corpses.
    Kinsley’s article therefore is raising a much more potent argument than simply that pro-lifers should do more against IVF. His argument is that even pro-lifers (for the most part) cannot take their own assertions seriously because if they did so it would lead them to advocate a lot more than simply banning abortion, even a lot more than simply banning or regulating IVF.

  • nedbrek

    Boonton:
    “Fair enough nedbrek, but should the methods used today be made illegal? If not, why not and how can the pro-life movement reconcile that with their demands that abortion be made illegal.”
    I am hesitant to call for laws. Ideally, it would be taught as ethics, and people would be ethical, and a law would be unnecessary. If a law should be required, how will it be enforced? Unenforcible laws just devalue people’s opinion of the law (which is already badly damaged)…
    I would like to see a Constitutional ammendment defining life beginning at conception, and better definition of “due process” for the application of the death penalty.

  • nedbrek

    Boonton:
    “Consider the fact that a huge number of natural pregnancies end in miscarriage even before the mother is aware she is pregnant yet no one advocates spending serious money to stop this.”
    I won’t argue the assignment of research dollars until someone comes up with an economics of human life other than zero and infinite. Such a task is too big for me…
    Let me also say, that I doubt autopsies are done when 100 years olds die in bed. People die, we can deal with that. People have been charged with murder when attacking pregnant women. If abortion were illegal, it would be possible, although terribly insensitive to charge a woman who received one illegally. It would be better to mandate counseling in these cases.

  • http://www.leanleft.com/ tgirsch

    Chris B:
    While IVF is nowhere near as prevalent as abortion, it’s not “30 years [newer]” than abortion. Well, at least not assuming you’re referring to 1973 (Roe) as your reference point. IVF has been around since 1978, only five years after Roe legalized first-trimester abortions.
    The problem with the pro-life stance on IVF isn’t that it’s inconsistent: it’s that it’s hypocritical.
    You can argue that abortion gets more attention because it’s much more pervasive than IVF, but by that standard, IVF should get a lot more attention than ESC does, because IVF is much more pervasive than ESC research (and indeed, ESC research would primarily use the cast-offs from IVF procedures). That IVF has failed to capture the attention of the pro-life movement is, to me, evidence that the pro-life movement by and large does not view all embryo destruction as wrong, wether or not they’re willing to admit it. Some (like Joe) have, to their credit, taken a consistent position and stated opposition to IVF, too, but I haven’t seen any give IVF anywhere near the attention they give ESC — which seems odd, because ESC mostly depends on IVF.

  • Gordon Mullings

    Joe:
    Revealing and sadly all too predictable, isn’t it . . .
    The tone and substance of the detracting comments, that is.
    It makes but little sense to try to take on much of the above point by point — though Noumenon’s link on stem cells as a cause of cancer is important and fresh news. [Makes a lot of sense of one of the known problems of ESCs — they often end up causing cancers. ASCs by contrast seem to have less of a problem here, thus the rapidly growing number of successful applications. The silence on that contrasting success

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    I am hesitant to call for laws. Ideally, it would be taught as ethics, and people would be ethical, and a law would be unnecessary. If a law should be required, how will it be enforced? Unenforcible laws just devalue people’s opinion of the law (which is already badly damaged)…
    How about laws that prohibit a person from stealing a baby by cutting open a pregnant woman? Oddly no one worries too much about ‘unenforcible laws’ or delegating such things to ethics classes. Yet in the case of IVF it is hard not to see this as functionally the same thing….if you take your claims seriously.
    I won’t argue the assignment of research dollars until someone comes up with an economics of human life other than zero and infinite. Such a task is too big for me…
    This is not some dispute over whether cancer should get more funding or AIDS research. We are talking about just about $0 versus everything else getting billions. If embryos are equally human beigns such a position cannot be reconciled.
    Taking on Gordon’s questions in reverse order:
    Basic question no 4: Why is a move on the part of many advocates of the sanctity of human life to redress a gap in their position now being derided, as if learning the truth and making moral progress in response is nothing but a further proof of hypocrisy of the “wrong” people?
    What is this move to ‘redress a gap’ by pro-lifers? The highest elected official in the country publically praises IVF clinics and their works without the slightest concern that this will cost him even a tiny bit of support form the major pro-life groups. Where is the ‘redress’ of a gap? Even on this very list people who agree in principle on IVF mince words. Joe, for example, advises us that ‘Christian couples’ should use more responsible types of IVF. As I pointed out if the issue was stealing babies by killing pregnant women no one would say this is something ‘Christian couples’ should refrain from doing as if it was just like eating meat on Friday or working a bit on Sunday.
    Perhaps a better question is why does Gordon distort the truth here? Kinsley is not a noted pro-lifer trying to get the movement to redress a gap. He is pointing out that the gap among pro-lifers is quite stubborn and shows little signs of being closed (with the exception of maybe a handful).
    Basic question no 3: Why is it that the contrast between the much good being effected by morally non-controversial research and applications [ASC] is passed over effectively in silence, whilst that which fits in with an agenda that is highly questionable [ESC] is blazed across the headlines as the great hope?
    If ESC research had no restrictions than any other type of research there would be no issue. ESC would compete with ASC and all the other types of research out there and it would succeed or fail. However, since advocates are demanding restrictions on ESC it is valid to focus on whether or not ESC has any promise.
    Also the issue has the characteristics of a neat little ethics textbook problem…do you kill one innocent person to save one hundred? is it ok to toss one guy off the lifeboat if it will keep the 20 on it from all drowning? In such academic debates fighting the hypothetical (gee, the lifeboat can fit 21 people if we just alter it’s design slightly) is considered bad form.
    Basic question no 2: If your answer to 1 is less than a creature made in the image of God and endowed by him with unalienable rights, then on what basis do you assign

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Basic question no 1: What is human life and what is the worth of a human?
    [This is a worldviews, i.e. comparative difficulties test. And, B, stage of brain development has serious implications for say the rights of the mentally retarded or brain damaged.

    It only has serious implications if you do not feel that human worth is a binary factor. What do I mean by that? Let’s say we are having a debate over whether X is a human beign. X could be an embryo, a fetus, an egg, a Republican, a Democrat, a brain dead person, a wrestling fan, a rotting corpse, whatever. Whatever the answer is there are only two degrees, 0 and 1.
    If X is not a living human beign (say a rotting corpse) then it does not have value as a human life (of course other values may be in play, a great painting may have value so that destroying it would be a crime even if it isn’t the crime of destroying a human life…likewise treating a corpose with disrespect may be a crime even if it is not the same as killing a human life which we are concerned with in this discussion). However if X is a human life then it is equal to all other human lives.
    So let’s say our standard is having a working brain. If you and I have a working brain then we are indeed human lives but if my brian works twice as well as yours (forgive my modesty) that doesn’t make my life twice as worthy as yours. Killing me would not be like killing two Gordons. Now I’m not saying that having a working brain is the standard, for one thing as the Schiavo episode demonstrated the brain is not a single organ but several. It’s possible to have a brain that works in some areas but is dead in others.
    So I agree with you that using a non-binary system of determining the worth of a human is dangerous and leads down a very dark path. Not only would it lead to concluding some people with mental handicaps are less than deserving of life but it would create a vicious caste system that would put to shame anything that was ever done in India. After all if the mentally retarded are less worthy then so are the simply below average and even the above average are less worthy than the best of the best and so on.
    However this only helps us after we have found X to be a human life. It does not tell us directly whether X is a human life. Here what causes X to transition from not-humanlife to humanlife (and eventually back to not-humanlife) can indeed be a process rather than an instant. This seems to fit with the fact that most biological transitions happen as processes rather than instants (such as the transition from childhood to adulthood) as well as with our gut instincts (imperfect they are).
    This brings us back to Kinsley’s piece. It was not as Gordon attempted to distort it an attack on pro-lifers discovering they had overlooked unethical practices in the IVF industry. Rather it points out that even pro-lifers cannot really follow through on the implications of their assertions.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Basic question no 1: What is human life and what is the worth of a human?
    [This is a worldviews, i.e. comparative difficulties test. And, B, stage of brain development has serious implications for say the rights of the mentally retarded or brain damaged.

    It only has serious implications if you do not feel that human worth is a binary factor. What do I mean by that? Let’s say we are having a debate over whether X is a human beign. X could be an embryo, a fetus, an egg, a Republican, a Democrat, a brain dead person, a wrestling fan, a rotting corpse, whatever. Whatever the answer is there are only two degrees, 0 and 1.
    If X is not a living human beign (say a rotting corpse) then it does not have value as a human life (of course other values may be in play, a great painting may have value so that destroying it would be a crime even if it isn’t the crime of destroying a human life…likewise treating a corpose with disrespect may be a crime even if it is not the same as killing a human life which we are concerned with in this discussion). However if X is a human life then it is equal to all other human lives.
    So let’s say our standard is having a working brain. If you and I have a working brain then we are indeed human lives but if my brian works twice as well as yours (forgive my modesty) that doesn’t make my life twice as worthy as yours. Killing me would not be like killing two Gordons. Now I’m not saying that having a working brain is the standard, for one thing as the Schiavo episode demonstrated the brain is not a single organ but several. It’s possible to have a brain that works in some areas but is dead in others.
    So I agree with you that using a non-binary system of determining the worth of a human is dangerous and leads down a very dark path. Not only would it lead to concluding some people with mental handicaps are less than deserving of life but it would create a vicious caste system that would put to shame anything that was ever done in India. After all if the mentally retarded are less worthy then so are the simply below average and even the above average are less worthy than the best of the best and so on.
    However this only helps us after we have found X to be a human life. It does not tell us directly whether X is a human life. Here what causes X to transition from not-humanlife to humanlife (and eventually back to not-humanlife) can indeed be a process rather than an instant. This seems to fit with the fact that most biological transitions happen as processes rather than instants (such as the transition from childhood to adulthood) as well as with our gut instincts (imperfect they are).
    This brings us back to Kinsley’s piece. It was not as Gordon attempted to distort it an attack on pro-lifers discovering they had overlooked unethical practices in the IVF industry. Rather it points out that even pro-lifers cannot really follow through on the implications of their assertions.

  • Texanna

    Yes, there are prolifers who aren’t aware of the ramifications of IVF. I was one of them until I met Father Frank of Priests for Life at a Good Friday service. I have a nephew who was conceived through IVF and I never thought of the other embryos.
    I know that Priests for Life has started picketing an IVF clinic in the city where I live.
    I am saddened and ashamed of my ignorance about this.

  • nedbrek

    Boonton:
    “How about laws that prohibit a person from stealing a baby by cutting open a pregnant woman?”
    Um, this is covered by assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder, and (should be) kidnapping. There are heaps of evidence and witnesses.
    A simple IVF case: Clinic A is ethical, and requires $20,000 per attempt and usually requires 3 or 4 attempts. Clinic B starts two embryos at a time, but only implants one. Clinic C starts four embryos, and implants two. Clinic B and C run more efficiently, and have greater profits (the motivation for the whole thing). They also generate embryos which they can destroy or sell on the black market. No one would ever know, except patients from C may occasionally have twins. Maybe we could track back C, but could we rule out cases where IVF overlapped natural procreation?
    “This is not some dispute over whether cancer should get more funding or AIDS research. We are talking about just about $0 versus everything else getting billions. If embryos are equally human beigns such a position cannot be reconciled.”
    Why not? Is anyone arguing for money to be spent curing minor diseases that are terminal for 100 year olds? We treat people as best we can. It’s understood that eventually, they’ll die.

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    I see B is returning to his old ad hominem tactics, sadly.
    1] why does Gordon distort the truth here
    –> FYI, sir [for want of a more apt but less polite term], the issue in this thread is not the existence of IVF, but the abuse of embryos in the context of further distorting the truth on which stem cells work in 70 treatments and counting, and which ones have not worked but are being misrepresented in the media.
    –> Second, FYFI, sir, the president you have identified has put in place a law that makes the further destruction of embryos for ESC and cloning etc, something that the US Govt in effect forbids.
    –>FYYFI, sir, the agenda to misrepresent the state on the medical science and treatments by ESC advocates is designed to undermine precisely this ban.
    –> Finally on this point, the sort of informational job that Joe has done above, and that Focus on the Family and many others have begun to do, is addressing the stem cells issue and sets the context for addressing the questionable context in which that issue has arisen. Your first response is a personal attack — precisely the issue highlighted in basic issue 4.
    –> I note here, too, Texanna’s testimony. In short, my point is only too accurate. Thanks, TA.
    2] If ESC research had no restrictions than any other type of research there would be no issue. ESC would compete with ASC and all the other types of research out there . . . do you kill one innocent person to save one hundred?
    –> but this is precisely the problem: ESC is in a highly questionable moral context, but in the rush to push for it, that is suppressed [as we just saw] and the contrasting track record Joe highlights is conspicuous by absence from the MSM reports [for want of a better term, again].
    –> Further to this, the standard “values clarification” — actually, “confusion” would be more accurate — stories trotted out to undermine the understanding of the fundamental objectivity of morality in the classroom and hte public, are positively irrelevant. WHAT IS RELEVANT IS THE FACT THAT THERE IS A NON-QUESTIONABLE, DEMONSTRATED EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVE THAT SHOWS ACCELERATIG PTROMISE AND DELIVERY, BUT WHICH IS SUPPRESSED BECAUSE IT DOES NOT FIT IN WITH CERTAIN AGENDAS.
    3] you are saying that rights are assumed from the beginning as an axiom. We assume that God gave us unalienable rights. There is no response to the person who asks how do we know God didn’t decide to make people in his image with more or less rights. However such people are themselves offering nothing more than a different assumption.
    –> I see you have been reading Mumon on “axiom[s].” FYI, both of you are wrong here

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    nedbrek
    Why not? Is anyone arguing for money to be spent curing minor diseases that are terminal for 100 year olds? We treat people as best we can. It’s understood that eventually, they’ll die.
    One of the implications of a binary view of human worth (in other words, all human beigns are considered equal) is that eugenics is wrong. Suppose we had a gov’t team that went around to every pregnant woman and tested her and the father’s DNA. Any that rated ‘below average’ (using whatever standard you would measure that by) would be forced to have abortions on the spot. A pro-lifer would have no problem at all opposing such a thing.
    Yet eugenics would be equally wrong if carried out by omission. If we refused to make any effort at all for even basic attempts to correct life threatening conditions for those deemed ‘below’ while lavishing billions on cosmetic problems and late in life illnesses for those considered above, if we celebrated the ‘natural’ deaths of those deemed ‘below’ while we bemoaned and fought the deaths of those deemed ‘above’ then we are equally in the territory of eugenics.
    So the implication of considering embryos full human beigns from the moment of fertilization is that it is wrong to overlook the massive rate of natural death that they incur. Here’s a little known fact. Those who use the rythum method of birthcontrol (timing sex so you don’t do it around a woman’s fertile period) actually may contribute to miscarriages since fertilizations that may happen during the ‘less fertile’ period are more likely to fail to implant correctly in the uterus. It is not sufficient to shrug and say this is ‘nature’s will’ or in God’s hands. We have decided to alter nature on behalf of one class of human beigns (those already born). What right do we have to ignore another class?
    Again this is not a minor dispute over proper funding levels…whether cancer should get more than AIDS because it effects more people or if AIDS should get more because it is a disease that can be spread if not stopped etc. This is a question of whether you can maintain it is ok to give one class of human beigns total, 100% neglect while lavishing attention on another class. I don’t think you can consistently maintain so.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Gordon,
    Minor point, the President has put into place a law that only applies to Federally funded research. Private entities and states are free to do embryo research provided they use their own money to fund it. You may be right about human cloning being banned, although even if it is not I do not think reproductive cloning will ever become anything more than a tiny niche. Since cloning has produced numerous defects with animals I would suspect it has a huge hill to climb getting approval as being safe for humans even if you have no ethical objections to cloning per se. Kinsley’s point about the President and IVF stands, Bush has not only failed to request any law regarding the ‘surplus embryos’ created by the IVF industry but has publically praised their ‘good work’.
    –> but this is precisely the problem: ESC is in a highly questionable moral context, but in the rush to push for it, that is suppressed [as we just saw] and the contrasting track record Joe highlights is conspicuous by absence from the MSM reports [for want of a better term, again].
    Which is why a few articles saying ESC may not produce any medical insights or discoveries is beyond the point. Deciding which research may or may not produce results is quite frankly not our job. In cases where the research is done with private money people are free to persue their own hunches on their own dime as much as they want. In cases where research is done with taxpayer money the better option is to ensure that the decision making process is sound since none of us have all the technical knowledge required to review all research funding requests and give them an objective ranking in terms of priority. So the only relevant issue here is whether the research is ethical or not. Whether it is likely to produce results is a distant second…so distant that it is more of a distraction. It is probably better to assume for the sake of the argument that such research will produce something useful. Our time and mental energy are limited so we should concentrate our resources on addressing the ethical question instead of trying to guess the results of real life research.
    –> Onlookers, first of all, notice the wiggle-out game. It is asserted that the value we — by overwhelming consensus [and indeed B is a participant in that consensus!] — intuitively see in human worth is a mere assumption, then a mathematical continuum model for human worth is substituted for recognition of the implications of possessing human nature.
    Actually read my sentence more carefully;
    “Let’s say we are having a debate over whether X is a human beign. X could be an embryo, a fetus, an egg, a Republican, a Democrat, a brain dead person, a wrestling fan, a rotting corpse, whatever. Whatever the answer is there are only two degrees, 0 and 1 . . . let’s say our standard is having a working brain.”
    I didn’t say this standard was derived by consensus, by a vote, by a panel of experts, or even by direct communication from a diety! I simply said that whatever the standard is it does not create a mathematical continum of human worth. Human worth is, on the contrary quite discrete. Something is either a human beign or it is not. If it is then it is equal in worth to all other human beigns.
    A comparision might be the concept of citizenship in the US. By the Constitution, if you are born in the US you are automatically a citizen. Some people might be born here the day their parents stepped off the boat, others might trace their ancestors back generations to the first European settlers or even before to Native Americans but that has no impact on citizenship which is a binary condition. The first generation is no less a citizen than the nth generation American.
    –> Even “a rotting corpse” is universally recognised as having a proper dignity due to it: that is why we have funerals, and why we have cemetaries or the comparable rituals in various cultures [strange though these sometimes are…
    As usual you do not properly control your natural habit of being long winded. If you look at my post you’ll see that I was limiting the discussion to the worth of a human life. I acknowledged that there are other values that are important but are not part of this discussion. In the case of a rotting corpse, we may indeed have an obligation to treat it with proper dignity but there is no debate over whether it is a human life….it is not. Cremating a corpse may or may not be showing it the proper respect but no one argues doing so is destroying a human life as would be throwing a live human beign into a furnance.
    –> Next we see the attempt to smuggle in the notion that different stages of human life and other distinguishing characteristics can be used to rob some of human dignity. In short, we see exactly the point that evolutionary materialism leads to “might makes right” exemplified. We know from all too recent history, where that leads.
    On the contrary, I simply showed how your are confusing two different questions as one. The first question is what defines a living human life. The second is what is the worth of a human life. The first question may indeed be answered with something that can be measured on a continuum. However that does not mean the second question is a continuum.
    –> The proposed relativistic standard, “a working human brain,” is then introduced. by what authority or justification — why rhetorical might makes right, of course. [That is, if I can persuade its acceptance that is enough.] So, why should I reject the standard thsat if the working brain lives in a Jewish or balack-skinned body, it is not worthy of respect as a person, if dominant forces in my culture say so?
    Actually I did not introduce this as a standard, I used it only as a hypothetical standard to evalute the second question you asked about human worth. I pointed out it is deficient as a real life standard to use because ‘working brain’ is a vague term (not a relativistic one).
    Now what you are making up is the implication that I proposed any method for deciding upon a standard..you seem to have some imaginary post in mind where I proposed some type of vote on a standard. I have done no such thing. Such a standard would flow from the definition of what a human life is but I’m not proposing one…at least for now until we can get some of the fundamentals cleared up.
    In reality I do not think the standards of life and death are set by ‘might makes right’. On the contrary, especially with death, I believe there is a great concern about setting too lose a standard. This is why the ‘beating heart’ test was ditched long ago, because it has been proven over and over again that a stopped heart can be started again. I think most people who approach this topic are trying to make a sincere effort to find an objective answer to the questions, not simply one that happens to suit their personal interests. Indeed, since you mentioned the Schiavo case there is a bit of Rawlsian ‘veil of ignorance’ going on here. Most of us have no idea if we will end up in a situation more similiar to Terry Schiavo’s or a situation more similiar to her husband’s so our interests are to approach this question as objectively as our abilities can manage.
    Onto IVF and Kinsley again:
    –> Joe then went on to acknowledge the gap in the awareness, understanding and behaviour of a great many pro-lifers on the subject. Texanna substantiates this, adn up to several years ago, I did not make the connexion myself.
    Indeed but the question Kinsley and I raise is why was this connection so hard to make and even now seems only a tiny portion of pro-lifers have begun to make it. One reason might be that it is indeed something that was overlooked and as this knowledge is spread will lead to more consistent behavior by pro-lifers. Another reason, though, might be that pro-lifers have made an error somewhere hence their natural inclinations lead to inconsistent behavior.
    As I pointed out if you take the proposition seriously that embryos are equally human beigns then that seems to lead to a lot of conclusions that go far beyond simply reforming IVF clinics. These conclusions seem to run against the grain of common sense not only of the average person but also even pro-lifers. Look at this very thread, even after the information about ‘surplus embryos’ was articulated several times over. Even then people on this list backtrak and equivocate…talking about how ‘Christian couples’ should refrain as if this was about eating a hamburger on Friday or working overtime on Sunday. This is why I used the contrasting example of cases where a pregnant woman was murdered by women who wanted their children. If we heard someone speaking about that the way pro-lifers here speak about IVF clinics after they have been fully informed on the embryo situtation we would think there was something deeply wrong with them.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    The more subtle point I’m raising may be reviewed by looking at Joe’s ‘Wisdom of Repugnance’ articles (http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com/archives/001226.html).

    Repugnance, therefore, may be a form of knowing that precedes rational thought in the same way that

  • nedbrek

    Boonton, your notion of eugenics by omission is unusual and confusing. Being a researcher, I am compelled to try and come up with a way of reducing the incidence of failed implantation and miscarriage. Unfortunately, I do not have a medical background. I am unaware of anyone even proposing a method for determining and reducing these cases (how do we even detect it is occurring, much less try to intervene?). If you have any leads, I would be interested.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    WHAT IS RELEVANT IS THE FACT THAT THERE IS A NON-QUESTIONABLE, DEMONSTRATED EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVE THAT SHOWS ACCELERATIG PTROMISE AND DELIVERY, BUT WHICH IS SUPPRESSED BECAUSE IT DOES NOT FIT IN WITH CERTAIN AGENDAS.
    While Gordon has a diverse range of typograhical styles (which I’m not sure he uses any particular logic in employing), I think I should address this passage that suffers from a suplus of capitals.
    1. We do not know if adult stem cell research is an alternative or complement or entirely unrelated to the potential treatments that may result from embryo stem cell research. That work on adult stem cell research yields promising stories here or there does not tell us that anything about what would result from work on embryonic stem cells. In other words, if tomorrow it was discovered that adult stem cells yielded a cure to 50% of Parkinsons cases that will not tell us if embryonic research would have yielded the no cure, the same cure or a better cure that would address 100% of cases.
    2. Gordon cites supression but is unable to substantiate it.
    a. To anyone who followed the debate by reading the main stream media the fact that IVF clinics produce ‘surplus embryos’ that are often destroyed or simply kept frozen so long that they are effectively destroyed is no news. In fact one of the arguments for the research was that it was absurd to ban it on the grounds that it destroys embryos when those very same embryos are being routinely destroyed anyway.
    In fact, one of the proposed protocalls for such research was that women would be banned from specifically donating embryos….least they have an incentive to get pregnant just to donate embryos in hopes of helping a loved one or getting money. The scientist in South Korea who claimed to have perfected cloning was soon discredited for falsifying his reasearch AND for pressuing subordinates to donate their eggs. No to anyone who cared to follow this topic the IVF ‘surplus embryo’ story has hardly been surpressed.
    b. Gordon also implies that embryonic research has been overhyped and good results with adult stem cells have not received the proper attention. This is probably true but in itself does not substantiate ‘supression’. Naturally cutting edge research gets sexier play from the media and, of course, scientists competiting for limited funds have an incentive to spin the potential of their research. The fact that embryonic research has the ethical debate attached to it makes it a natural media magnet while stem cell research on adult cells does not have the dubious distinction of having such baggage.
    Nevertheless, it is quite implausible to believe adult research has been supressed. By law adult stem cell research has an advantage in that it can qualify for federal funding while only embryo research on a handful of pre-existing ‘lines’ of uncertain quality can qualify under the law. For privately funded research one would imagine that most large corporations and foundations are quite used to people hyping ideas in the hopes of receiving funding from their deep pockets and the profit incentive would be sufficient to steer research dollars towards the most objectively promising research ideas.
    So when Joe writes:

    Considering that adult stem cells (ASCs) have already been used to treat Parkinson

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Boonton, your notion of eugenics by omission is unusual and confusing. Being a researcher, I am compelled to try and come up with a way of reducing the incidence of failed implantation and miscarriage. Unfortunately, I do not have a medical background. I am unaware of anyone even proposing a method for determining and reducing these cases (how do we even detect it is occurring, much less try to intervene?). If you have any leads, I would be interested.
    ned,
    How are you compelled to find a way to reduce such incidence? As you stated the lack of knowledge here seems to hint that few people have felt compelled in anyway to do anything about failed implantation and miscarriage (except when addressing infertility…in other words not the interests of embryos but couples who happen to want to conceive….not the same thing). If embryos were really believed to be equally human could such a lack of enthusism really be maintained?

  • nedbrek

    Boonton:
    “How are you compelled to find a way to reduce such incidence?”
    I am willing to discuss it with you here. If you can provide a method for detection, and some ideas for treatment, I am willing to consider it further.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    nedbrek,
    I think we are flying off the point I’m trying to make. I’m not saying that attempting to find a cure for miscarriages would be easy, it may even be impossible. What I’m saying is that we don’t treat miscarriages as the death of a human beign even though pro-life rhetoric would tell us that is what it is. Let’s imagine some illness was causing 50% or more of newborn babies to die before reaching a year old. How would we react?
    Almost certainly all hell would break loose. People would demand answers, there would memorials and services, there would be movies, poems, and grieving. In short people would act as if 50% of newborn human beigns had died.
    However when ‘nature’ claims 50% or even more of unborn human beings the matter is either meet with a shrug or even praised as the ‘wisdom of nature’ correcting things when there is a problem. As Gordon says this might be out of ignorance…people might just not be aware that so many human beigns are losing their lives. But notice here even when this is pointed out people on this list seem to have an instinctual habit of reverting to normal, business as usual.
    Again look at what was written by Joe and others about IVF clinics. Kinsley accurately applied logic to the assumptions of pro-lifers and concluded that these clinics must be viewed as death camps. Yet even Joe treads gingerly, telling us that ‘Christian couples should refrain’ from unethical IVF clinics. Are people advised to ‘refrain’ from cutting open pregnant women?

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    I do not think a further long point by point response makes much sense overnight, as onlookers can sort out for themselves the core issue:

    1] pro lifers are waking up to a further implication of the culture of death for convenience or advantage and are responding. Texanna’s testimony is a capital case in point.
    2] While that waking up and consensus building happen, there will be all sorts of strange anomalies and compromises — cf what happened as the antislavery movement in Britain built up steam back in C18 – 19 to eliminate first the trade then the institution, and similar patterns on other reformation issues over the years. [This is the situation with Mr Bush on the effective ban I discussed; perhaps i was less than clear in my comment.]
    3] In the case of Embryonic stem cells it is plain that NO successful treatments have emerged after something like 20 years of serious investigation. Adult stem cells, so-called, are not subject to moral questions and are leading to an accelerating array of real treatments. Further, the “flexibility” argument seems to be falling by the wayside as ASCs show themselves more and more useful and less prone tot he problems that plague ESCs.
    4] In particular, contrary to Mr Kinsley’s remarks, ASCs are working on Parkinsons, as Joe — and he should know — reports. It is quite common in media reports to suppress the difference between the two and the differential success ands ethical positions. Indeed, to most ordinary people hearing the term “stem cells” what is brought to mind is EMBRYONIC stem cells. [The “it has been said in a corner once or a few times” defence fails. The issue is material fairness and balance in the reporting, and the Kinsley case is illustrative of a widespread pattern.]
    5] IVF is the context in which the “extra unwanted embryos” are there, inviting the attempt to “harvest” them for ESC and cloning etc etc. but there are credible alternatives for infertility, going all the way back to adoption. So there is a moral challenge tied to the value of human life. And that is what the point in block caps was about. [BTW, B, a double dash is a parenthesis; it seems I invited the interpretation that you were saying explicitly what is an implication of what you said.]
    6] So the matter comes back to the worldviews issue and the value of human life in that context. And, it is still the case that evolutionary materialism ends up in the reductio ad absurdum that it implies that might makes right. As already noted: if an embryo is not of human nature, of what nature then is it? [In short this is a case again of “dehumanise” first then do what is indefensible to do to those who we accept as humans.]

    +++++++++
    Grace, open our eyes
    Gordon

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    1] pro lifers are waking up to a further implication of the culture of death for convenience or advantage and are responding. Texanna’s testimony is a capital case in point.
    Not really, Texanna is an example of a single person commenting on a single blog. Anyone with any knowledge of the ESC debate would know that the embryos would come from ‘surplus’ IVF clinic stock. Therefore anyone who had studied the ESC debate would be aware of this. When President Bush praised IVF clinics it was at the conclusion of the ESC debate, ignorance therefore has already been addressed among the major pro-life people and organizations.
    3] In the case of Embryonic stem cells it is plain that NO successful treatments have emerged after something like 20 years of serious investigation. Adult stem cells, so-called, are not subject to moral questions and are leading to an accelerating array of real treatments. Further, the “flexibility” argument seems to be falling by the wayside as ASCs show themselves more and more useful and less prone tot he problems that plague ESCs.
    Again the fallacy of the false choice, if ASC produce 70 treatments that says nothing about ESC. Nor does it establish ASC as an alternative. If ESC produces 3 treatments and ASC 700 that is not an argument against ESC research. Again this is why I said the prospects of ESC research are so much of a secondary issue that they should be considered a distraction here.
    4] In particular, contrary to Mr Kinsley’s remarks, ASCs are working on Parkinsons, as Joe — and he should know — reports. It is quite common in media reports to suppress the difference between the two and the differential success ands ethical positions.
    Contrary to what remarks by Kinsley? Kinsley never said ASCs do not work, never said that ASC research should be cancelled in favor of ESC research only, never even said that ESC would produce any treatment for Parkinsons.
    Notice the distortion here? Kinsley only said that ESC research might produce treatments. In the interest of full disclosure he revealed that he had Parkinsons…no doubt if he didn’t someone would accuse him of simply advocating any and all research in the hopes that such a shot in the dark would solve his personal problem. Kinsley simply said ESC research might, MIGHT, produce useful treatments. In that he spoke correctly since there is no way any of can really know. I do think some have overhyped ESC research, such as the late Christopher Reeve, but here you are just demonstrating that you’re not really paying attention.
    5] IVF is the context in which the “extra unwanted embryos” are there, inviting the attempt to “harvest” them for ESC and cloning etc etc. but there are credible alternatives for infertility, going all the way back to adoption. So there is a moral challenge tied to the value of human life. And that is what the point in block caps was about.
    Are you sure you were referring to the problem of infertility when you wrote:
    “WHAT IS RELEVANT IS THE FACT THAT THERE IS A NON-QUESTIONABLE, DEMONSTRATED EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVE THAT SHOWS ACCELERATIG PTROMISE AND DELIVERY, BUT WHICH IS SUPPRESSED BECAUSE IT DOES NOT FIT IN WITH CERTAIN AGENDAS.”
    Adoption has been around quite a long time and is pretty good but I’m not sure anything has changed about it recently to describe it as showing ‘accelerating promise and delivery”. There are forms of IVF that do not need to involve surplus embryos but I haven’t heard of any recent innovations….in fact the industry seems quite comfortable with the approach they are using now.
    As already noted: if an embryo is not of human nature, of what nature then is it?
    That was never a fundamental or core question here. The question is whether it is a human life. Of course it is ‘of human nature’….a sperm cell is ‘of human nature’ too as is even a dead body.

  • nedbrek

    “I think we are flying off the point I’m trying to make. I’m not saying that attempting to find a cure for miscarriages would be easy, it may even be impossible. What I’m saying is that we don’t treat miscarriages as the death of a human beign even though pro-life rhetoric would tell us that is what it is. Let’s imagine some illness was causing 50% or more of newborn babies to die before reaching a year old. How would we react?”
    My boss and his wife just had a miscarriage. To say that it doesn’t affect them is insensitive. It affected them very much. Maybe not as much as the death of a newborn. But if an uncle you never heard of dies, how much does it affect you? Is he less a person?
    SIDS affects too many young children (nonzero). There appears to be little we can do about it. We have things to study, but little progress has been made (it appears to be something in the brain which shuts off the automatic breathing reflex). We know smoking is correlated, and perhaps cosleeping and blanket placement may help. Beyond that there is little we can do, and worrying or complaining does not help.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    My boss and his wife just had a miscarriage. To say that it doesn’t affect them is insensitive. It affected them very much. Maybe not as much as the death of a newborn. But if an uncle you never heard of dies, how much does it affect you? Is he less a person?
    Indeed it would be insensitive to say that, I didn’t though. You are correct, I am less affected personally by an uncle however society behaves as if a human beign had died as you would expect with those closest feeling the most grief on outwards. Even if you are emotionally removed from the death our social customs, habits and behaviors treat it still as the death of a human beign.
    In contrast, suppose you are told vandals broke into a cemetary where some obscure relative of yours was buried and destroyed the grave. You might feel upset, the law would try to catch & punish the vandels but no one would treat it as the death of a human life.
    Now in the case of your boss and his wife, while they are clearly hurt by the miscarriage this cannot be explained away by being emotionally removed from the situtation. They clearly knew she was pregnant and wanted the child so this isn’t a case of being told you once lost an embryo you didn’t even know you had. As real as their grief is, is it the grief of parents who lost a child or is it the grief of a couple that lost a chance to have a child?

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    SIDS affects too many young children (nonzero). There appears to be little we can do about it. We have things to study, but little progress has been made (it appears to be something in the brain which shuts off the automatic breathing reflex). We know smoking is correlated, and perhaps cosleeping and blanket placement may help. Beyond that there is little we can do, and worrying or complaining does not help.
    True but this isn’t my point. There’s a lot of things that have defied our efforts to understand and prevent. What is the point is that we act as if SIDS kills human beigns…even if we are at a loss at the moment to do much about it. We do not act as if miscarriages kill human beigns hence we feel no need to even try to do anything about it (with the exception of couples who want to have kids, but even there the emphasis is not so much on saving embryos from miscarriage as satisfying the couples’ desires…and of course the desire of doctors to make a nice living for themselves).

  • Gordon Mullings

    B:
    I first note that Texanna is not an exception, but an example — it takes years to break through the bodyguard of lies and cover-ups that hide the unspeakable in today’s world. bit by bit that is happening with the embryonic stem cells issue, and as people wake up, the possibilities for reformation arise.
    Similarly, the breakthrough to revival and reformation is a painful and complex spiritual struggle riddled with personal gaps and institutional half-way attempts, as I discussed here in my Caribbean Challenge magazine article series in 1999 – 2000. [This observation that there is the glory and the shame is not at all just a clever talking point thought up to counter the charge of hypocrisy. Indeed, Peter Hocken has written a wonderful book that bears just that title. There is a challenge to moral growth in any true Christian revival and reformation process, one that proceeds in the teeth of human failings and the inevitable struggles and accusations.]
    Now on certain points worth a further note:
    1] ESC vs ASC:
    Similarly, the problem with ESC is not just that it has failed to produce cures, but that it is plagued by problems, including inducing cancer. [I noted on this above and a recent Sci Am is speculating on the role of stem cells in cancer propagation, guess why.] In short, despite the hype, it is technically problematic and likely to go the way of the late un-lamented fetal tissue research, another much hyped panacea that failed while being immoral.
    By contrast, the approach that does not require immoral action is working, but the headlines and spin suppresses that. Guess why.
    Further to this, ASCs are showing more and nore that they are broadly flexible, capable of generating the same intermediate cell types that then can be turned into all sorts of cells. THAT is why we see the success in question.
    2] Kinsley never said ASCs do not work, never said that ASC research should be cancelled in favor of ESC research only, never even said that ESC would produce any treatment for Parkinsons.
    As Joe excerpted and commented:

    Kinsley suffers from Parkinson’s and has an intimate stake in the potential cures provided by stem cell research. He admits that he is

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Gordon,
    Texanna can be excused for her ignorance of the nature of modern IVF practices but not anyone who seriously has studied the ESC issue. The would include the major pro-life organizations, the President, members of his ethics committee and so on. All these people should be well aware that IVF clinics on a regular basis create and destroy ‘surplus embryos’. To them Kinsley’s article should not contain any revelations.
    Yet to my knowledge no move has been made to get Bush to rescind his praise of IVF clinics, no serious legislation introduced to stop the surplus embryo production (which would not require Roe.v.Wade to be overturned). There are a handful of exceptions, Italy for example has a strict IVF law which includes a provision that only embryos ‘intended’ to be taken to term by a couple can be created (of course this can’t be fully binding, if a woman decides she had enough when two embryos are left in the freezer the state cannot force her to take them on in her womb).
    I guess I should just give up on the larger point since even just communicating it here seems to be too hard. Gordon argues that the inconsistent behavior regarding embryos throughout human history and even today among informed pro-lifers is simply a slow process of institutional evoluation and eventually people will rise to the challenge. On the other hand, we might have that or we might have what Kinsley believes is a deep rooted knowledge that there is something wrong with the assumptions of many pro-lifers and this leads them to behave in an inconsistent manner.
    Similarly, the problem with ESC is not just that it has failed to produce cures, but that it is plagued by problems, including inducing cancer. [I noted on this above and a recent Sci Am is speculating on the role of stem cells in cancer propagation, guess why.] In short, despite the hype, it is technically problematic and likely to go the way of the late un-lamented fetal tissue research, another much hyped panacea that failed while being immoral.
    Indeed however again this is the either or fallacy at play here. Organ transplant is also plagued by many problems not the least of which is often requiring patients to spend the rest of their lives on rejection blocking medications. Many therepies such as CV medication for high blood pressure have yielded much better results at a lot less cost than, say, heart transplants. Nevertheless heart transplants, as problematic as they are, are still essential to our modern medical toolkit and while the pharmaceutical industry has done more for cardio-health than the transplant industry we would be insane to call the transplant industry a failure.
    If ESC yields one problematic therapy and ASC yields 120 that does not make ESC a failure. Again if there were no ethical problems between ESC and ASC research in both probably be done and adjusted as results came in. BTW, we have not even begun to scratch the surface of the question of whether it is possible to extract a stem cell sample from an embryo without destroying it. Another problem with this type of scoreboard comparision is that ASC have enjoyed both private and gov’t research dollars with little restriction or debate while ESC research has not. ASC’s higher ‘points’ might simply be an artifact of it having a head start.
    To make the matter even more complicated, I have read it is possible to ‘regress’ a ASC back to the point where it is embryonic….so embryonic in fact that if you implant it in a womb it would devide and become a baby. Therefore, per pro-life thinking that ASC at some point must become a human beign and you can’t use implantation as the test since frozen embryos haven’t implanted yet and that doesn’t make them non-humans to you.
    True Kinsley does state that ESC offers the most promise for Parkinsons however he then clarrifies that with might. ‘Promise’ is one attribute that is almost entirely without objectivity as it is almost impossible to forecast results of research that has not happened yet. The 70 so-called treatments from ASC might, after all, end up being a bust in the long run resulting in billions wasted with little to show for it.
    –> STEP 2: Is it alive? ANS: Obviously, yes.
    –> Therefore it is human by nature and alive by observation; thus, is plainly worthy of protection if human life has an intrinsic, sacred worth that is to be protected.
    Is a single blood cell of human nature? Yes. Step 2: Is it alive? Yes. This test would tell us that a blood cell is in itself a human beign. (I also noticed your ‘alive’ test backs away from the human corpse, removing it from protection…I suggest a rethinking is in order here).
    d] But here was medicine, sworn to do no harm, benefiting from one of the worst horrors of C20. The profession actually went back and re-did the research on scrupulously ethical bases to regenerate the knowledge on grounds that were ethically justified.
    Indeed but it would have been quite strange if the US and Russian troops made it to the concentration camps, arrested the doctors but left the Nazis to their extermination programs….then the US President makes a speech praising the ‘good work’ done at the concentration camps.
    –> This collapse of medical values and ethics is of course exactly what Schaeffer and Koop warned of back in the 1970’s and were ridiculed for.
    Perhaps pro-lifers are too conservative for their own good, clinging to a mythical past of idealized values. If you take the pro-life rhetoric seriously then something is radically wrong with how we have conducted ourselves…simply rolling back the clock to a year before Roe.v.Wade or before ESC would not nearly accomplish what is implied by their assumptions. It is like someone who argues that all animals are exactly equal to human beigns pretending that converting McDonalds to a veggi menu is the only thing implied by his radical beliefs.
    On the contrary, I see little evidence that we are sliding back to doing medical experiments on POW and ‘unwanted’ minorities. Your collapse argument presumes that the world of 1930 or 1940 or 1950 would have agreed with you if embryo research had been viable then. In reality the issue was never addressed until now so it is hard to know what previous generations would have done. We know for example that Christians once believed that quickening (when the baby can first be felt kicking) was the moment the soul entered the body….they would have leaned towards thinking an embryo was more akin to a sperm and egg rather than a human beign. Also ironic it is our respect for life that has created this ethical question. The Nazis would have simply let old people with degenerative illnesses like Parkinsons die, instead we turn over every rock trying to find a way to stop or reverse it.

  • Elwood

    Hey fellow Pro-Lifers!
    Wake up! If God used a donkey to instruct one of his prophets, let’s not be too proud to be taught by a pro-choice columnist.
    He’s right, IVF clinics are death camps for embryos. I affirm Joe’s attempt to address the issue, but I’d encourage us to go further.
    Consider that God ordained marriage as the way He chooses to bring children into the world. It makes sense that God intended the husband to be the father and the wife to be the mother in such situations. Adoption is obviously a different issue. Why do we so casually accept the practice of IVF or test tube babies where the bio father/mother could be anyone else in the world. Maybe God didn’t want Joe Sperm Donor to pass on his genes to someone and is the reason Joe Donor never got married. You’re already playing God with life when you remove the creation of a human person from the unitive aspect of the marital embrace. The unitive and procreative aspects of marital intercourse were not designed by God to be separated. This is man’s doing, which leads to promiscuity, abortion, homosexuality, cloning, etc. etc.
    I’ve got news for Mr. Kinsley, by the way. If you take the segment of the population that is really active in the pro-life movement, not just with votes but by working in crisis pregnancy clinics, praying outside abortion clinics, counseling the women who suffer post-traumatic stress, etc., my sense is that at least 50% of those people who are against ESCR or abortion are also against IVF. The other 50% just need to be educated and convinced that Kinsley is right to point out that log in our eyes.

  • Gordon Mullings

    Boonton:
    First, let us call this thread back to the core matters raised above by Joe: several patterns of questionable misbehaviour and the manipulation in the media.
    For instance it is plain that Mr Kinsley is guilty as charged. It is in that context that Joe has aptly raised the secondary matter that he has put his finger on a point that has often been overlooked: the link from IVF clinics to the pressure to exploit “extra, unwanted embryos” for alleged research and treatments.
    Now, it is true that there has been a gap on the part of many pro-lifers on this, BUT SUCH GAPS ARE TO BE EXPECTED IN ANY REFORMATION MOVEMENT. For, to be a fallen, fallible human being is to be inconsistent between what one aspires to and how one lives. Thus, the twin principles of repentance and reformation.
    I again advert to this, as you seem to be stuck on that favourite accusation against reformers: hypocrite.
    A further corrective: I do think that the no 1 pro-life organisation in the world — and it also just happens to be the largest, longest lived single organisation in the world, is the Roman Catholic church, which has long since taken a stance on all of these issues. This church, of course is singularly influential in a certain country in which the capital just happens to be Rome, i.e there is a critical mass of support that underlies Italy’s IVF law. Hint, hint, hint . . .
    Third, I am not so sure that it is fair to say that the informed advocates for the sanctity of life have been silent on IVF — though of course their concerns are not exactly going to be in the headlines of your friendly local NBCBSABCNN propaganda outlet.
    So, let us go web surfing and so hear Carrie Gordon Earll, “the senior policy analyst for bioethics at Focus on the Family,” in an article that appeared in Focus on the Family Magazine as recently as last year:

    Let

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    For instance it is plain that Mr Kinsley is guilty as charged.
    Kinsley did not claim that ESC had produced results, only that they had the most ‘promise’. Promise is highly subjective making it nearly impossible to evaluate whether Kinsley is right that ESC offers the ‘most’ but no doubt it offers promise as much as anything else done. Another problem is that promise is by definition about the future, the past is irrelevant. If ASC has produced 70 treatments its promise for the future depends on how many new treatments will come from it. No one at this point can really say that ASC will produce anything else nor can they say that ESC won’t produce something.
    If ESC produces 1 treatment in the future and ASC produces no more treatments then indeed ESC objectively holds the most promise AT THIS MOMENT. Your article that ESC may be involved in causing cancer actually increases their promise….if they cause cancer then researching them might, after all, yield cancer treatments!
    Now, it is true that there has been a gap on the part of many pro-lifers on this, BUT SUCH GAPS ARE TO BE EXPECTED IN ANY REFORMATION MOVEMENT.
    WE are just talking in circles here. I have conceeded that maybe we just happened to catch this issue before the pro-lifer community has fully caught up and in a few decades they will be spot on consistent here. On the other hand such deep rooted inconsistency may also be a sign that there is a problem with their underlying assumptions. In either case can we dispense with the mythical ‘pro-life past’? Historically embryos were never treated as or considered human beings. Perhaps that was wrong and soon just about everyone will realize it.
    A further corrective: I do think that the no 1 pro-life organisation in the world — and it also just happens to be the largest, longest lived single organisation in the world, is the Roman Catholic church, which has long since taken a stance on all of these issues. This church, of course is singularly influential in a certain country in which the capital just happens to be Rome, i.e there is a critical mass of support that underlies Italy’s IVF law. Hint, hint, hint . . .
    Indeed, the Roman Catholic Church has been more consistent on this (although even there I’m unaware of them advocating charges of murder on IVF clinics that violate Italy’s law). The Roman Church, to be a bit picky about it, is an organization that is pro-life…not a pro-life organization. Their purpose is a religion and the primary reason for people to join the Roman Church is religious….a person motivated to solely join a political pro-life organization would join one dedicated to that purpose. AS such we would expect dedicated pro-life organiztions to be on top of the issue. The excuse of ignorance that works for Texanna cannot be so easily applied to them…especially anyone that did any type of serious work on the case of ESC.
    Third, I am not so sure that it is fair to say that the informed advocates for the sanctity of life have been silent on IVF — though of course their concerns are not exactly going to be in the headlines of your friendly local NBCBSABCNN propaganda outlet.
    Indeed, it was NBC propaganda that caused Bush to praise the ‘good work’ of IVF clinics. No my friend, Bush did that because he knew the pro-life organizations that have given him support would not be offended, would not protest and would not withdraw their support in protest. The pro-life organizations have not been storming the gates of IVF and the news outlets just refusing to cover it.
    (Actually, a pro-choice media would probably want to cover serious pro-life opposition to IVF. Many people who have qualms about abortion generally do not feel so bad about IVF. The Catholic Church has other reasons than pro-life to oppose IVF but it is generally considered a good thing.)
    –> ESC failed morally coming out the starting gate: it requires the death of the powerless to enhance the life of the relatively powerful. If this principle of might makes right continues to infect and corrupt medical ethics, the result is as we know all too well from the Nuremberg trials.
    Again Gordon, when it suits him, will confuse two different issues. The ethic issue of ESC research is indeed real but Gordon and others here have tried to imply that there is no need to even go there fore ESC is a failure anyway. Indeed, if ESC could not produce anything useful why bother even questioning their morality? There’s no point wasting money and time on a useless research path when so many others are out there.
    Gordon mounts his argument on the assertion that ASC has produced 70 treatments and ESC none.
    1. This tells us nothing about the ‘promise’ of ESC. Objectively promise would be defined as something like ‘expected future yield’. What ASC produced in the past doesn’t tell us anything about what more they can produce. Perhaps they are exhausted at 70 treatments….in which case if ESC need only produce 1 treatment to be called the ‘most promising’.
    2. This presumes a false choice between ASC and ESC. If there were no ethical issues both could and probably would be funded without hesitation. Since there are ASC has enjoyed a head start which may very well account for its lead in treatments (or it might simply be more promising…there is quite frankly no way to tell.
    3. Needless to say ethical problems with ESC would be gone if methods were developed to extract embryonic stem cells without harming the embryo. Already this has been done in limited cases with no apparant harm to the embryo or later on the child. Of course if one magically knew ESC could not produce any good research there would be no point wasting time and money to do this.
    For these reasons obsessing over whether ESC could produce anything useful is an irrelevant distraction. Quite frankly we do not have the knowledge to evaluate whether ESC could produce useful results….even those with the expertise probably could not say so. Research is in this sense a gamble.
    –> I tire of silly rhetorical games, especially where they rest on twisting words out of a patently plain context. A human embryo, implanted and nurtured, naturally becomes a baby. A blood cell does not.
    Hardly a silly rhetorical game. You present a definition of a human beign that is on its face absurd. You don’t like that I called you out on such a simplistic attempt to resolve the issue. Now you introduce, ad hoc, a new feature….if a lot of different things happen X will become a baby therefore that makes X a human beign today. But how many things have to happen after that IF before X ceases to be a human beign right now? Everyone seems to agree a sperm and egg cell apart are not a human beign yet if they fertilized, if they implanted, if they etc. etc. you’ll get a baby 9 months later.
    –> Similarly, the issue was the understanding that an embryo is human life. Is it human: yes. is it alive: yes. Ergo, it is human life worthy of protection. Human remains, obviously were once alive and are human, so they are deserving of respect not cannibalism etc, high tech or low tech.
    WE long ago settled the issue, we do employ cannibalism (respectful if you will). Our doctors get their knowledge by working on human corpses. Patients get organ transplants from human corpses. WE all are encouraged to donate blood which is then given to other humans. It is nothing to destroy living human tissue…even to nibble on our nails! There’s a lot of things that are human life yet they can be used and even destroyed without anyone thinking a human beign was destroyed.
    5] We know for example that Christians once believed that quickening (when the baby can first be felt kicking) was the moment the soul entered the body
    –> And, as soon as the science showed other wise, the medical field — then [C19] largley JudaeoChristian in outlook — led the way in protecting life from as soon as it was recognised.
    Errr, science has never shown anything about when a soul enters an unborn baby. The ancients were well aware that babies came from sex and the sex act that causes a baby happened before the quickening moment. AFter claiming you weren’t going to mythologize the past you then go on to invent a new myth.

  • Gordon Mullings

    B;
    Kindly pause, re-examine the evidence in hand, and come back again. Something is not connecting here, adn you are making charges that do not fit with easily accessible evidence . . .
    For instance:
    1] Kinsley did not claim that ESC had produced results, only that they had the most ‘promise’ . . . promise is by definition about the future, the past is irrelevant
    –> The fact in evidence is that ASC is ALREADY treating Parkinson’s, whilst ESC faces serious moral problems and technical ones too. That is plainly adn based on facts in hand rather than speculations, the exact opposite of what Kinsley claimed about “promise,” as you have cited.
    –> The issue, manifestly, is K’s failure to acknowledge the true state of the evident facts, not the willow-the-wisp that maybe at some point, killing embryos may produce some treatments somehow.
    –> Wes Smith’s report on the spin games that supress the other side of the story is telling:

    Patients with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis received significant medical benefit using experimental adult-stem-cell regenerative medical protocols. These are benefits that supporters of embryonic-stem-cell treatments have yet to produce widely in animal experiments. Yet adult stem cells are now beginning to ameliorate suffering in human beings.
    Celebrity Parkinson’s disease Celebrity Parkinson’s disease victims such as Michael J. Fox and Michael Kinsley . . . promote ESCR in the media or before legislative committees, both have remained strangely silent about the most remarkable Parkinson’s stem-cell experiment yet attempted: one in which researchers treated Parkinson’s with the patient’s own adult stem cells . . . .
    Three months after the procedure, the man’s motor skills had improved by 37 percent and there was an increase in dopamine production of 55.6 percent. One year after the procedure, the patient’s overall Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale had improved by 83 percent