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Running in Place:

Leon Kass is leaving the White House Council on Bioethics. This is good news for those who oppose federal limitations on biotech research, right? Not necessarily. Reason's Ron Bailey suggests that Kass' replacement is even more opposed to certain technologies. According to Bailey:

The bottom line: Pellegrino's appointment as chairman of the President's Bioethics Council will, if anything, increase that body's opposition to a lot biotechnological progress.

Meanwhile, in another piece Bailey suggests that the Bush Administration's decision to limit federal funding of research on embryonic stem cells has had some unintended consequences. Accotrding to Bailey,

these federal funding restrictions have provoked an outpouring of state initiatives for research funding for stem-cell research. So far four states have put taxpayer dollars behind human embryonic stem-cell research. . . . . private funding for academic stem-cell research is also rising.

No doubt, that is not what the administration intended.

Justin Kee (mail):
The American Academy of Sciences has published several damning articles and editorials that were highly critical of the current Administration. The outright hostility expressed towards scientific issues that do not dovetail with this Administrations political views is simply inexcusable for a first world nation. If the the Federal government wishes to curtail funding for biotech research, so be it. But do not be surprised when the U.S. leadership position in biotech is overtaken by South Korea, China, the UK or the EU. The U.S. was the first nation to have sequenced the human genome in the 1990s, a truly remarkable feat. Unfortunately, such purely scientific advances and the resulting practical medical treatements are less likely to be found here.
9.9.2005 2:25am
Paul doson (mail) (www):
You must keep doing the good work.
merry
9.9.2005 2:35am
Paul doson (mail) (www):
You must keep doing the good work.
merry
9.9.2005 2:36am
lyle stamps (mail):
Wrong. It is exactly what the Administration intended. It has been one of their principal contentions throughout that _federal_ dollars are not needed, nor appropriate, to fund this technology; and that those that wish to engage in such can do so via private funding.

At least some Bush'ites still hold to a ltd federal budget.
9.9.2005 9:28am
erp (mail):
I agree with lyle stamps. That's exactly what Bush intended. Medical, abortion too, and scientific matters should not be decided nor funded by any branch of government. Academic research has been corrupted by the scramble for federal dollars. The whole system of federal grants should be abolished.
9.9.2005 9:44am
anonymous coward:
Replacing the scramble for federal dollars with the scramble for private dollars would clearly improve the quality of academic research. Because there's certainly never been any corruption involving private money in universities. (Not to mention the tremendous enthusiasm for basic research into quantum physics among Fortune 500 companies.)
9.9.2005 10:44am
thedaddy (mail):
AMEN to Lyle and to erp.

Just look at the disaster that is now being put in place by the State and Local gov'ts in LA and NO.
They are telling the willing people who want to come back to their property to start to asses the damage and the outlook for the future to STAY AWAY so the Gov't. (who screwed the pooch from minute one) can get things in order.
Katrina didn't kill New Orleans but the Gov't will.
Those poor people will probably never recover form their Gov't "Help".

thedaddy
9.9.2005 10:46am
xray (mail):
lyle and erp: when did the administration state that their intention was to increase the funding of stem cell research?
9.9.2005 10:47am
thedaddy (mail):
anonymous cowardNot to mention the tremendous enthusiasm for basic research into quantum physics among Fortune 500 companies.

For one: IBM has been doing this type of research for years.

thedaddy
9.9.2005 10:49am
anonymous coward:
Show me the particle accelerators. (Not to sneeze at the great big-company research at Bell Labs etc in the past, but its fate is pretty obvious.)
9.9.2005 10:55am
SimonD:
Infrequently in history, men have taken the view that there are things within our reach to accomplish, but which will come at a cost too great to bear. "Let us redefine progress to mean that just because we can do a thing, it does not necessarily mean we must do that thing."
9.9.2005 11:02am
Taimyoboi:
"No doubt, that is not what the administration intended."

As some posters have already pointed out, I think this is exactly what the Administration intended, but not for the explicit purpose of seeing increases in state/private funding.

The administration's goal has always been to keep funding for such a highly contentious issue in the private arena if possible, so that people can support such research via investment. And, people who do not are not forced to pay for it via taxes.

Same at the state level. If a majority of residents in one state oppose funding, then they will not be forced to support the research via federal taxes if a majority of other states opt for it in US Congress.

I'm surpised to find someone on this website echoing sentiments counter to the principles of free-markets and federalism.
9.9.2005 11:05am
cathyf:
Ok, I have this idea for medical progress. We will send teams of federal officers into law schools. They will swoop into the law faculty offices and classrooms, and drag the law professors off in shackles. Each will then be taken to the nearest hospital, placed under anesthesia, and have all of his/her organs harvested for transplant. Heart, liver, kidneys, corneas, etc. When arguing for or against this proposal, you are only allowed to discuss the ways that the organ recipients' lives will be improved.

No, of course I'm not serious. But your continuous drumbeat that the only possible reason that anyone could be against murder-for-transplant schemes with human embryos is "outright hostility expressed towards scientific issues" is fundamentally unserious as well. Yes, I understand that many people do not agree that killing human embryos is murder. But I expect the serious ones to acknowledge that there are those of us who have a different opinion as to which cases are and are not murder.

The only way that the question of whether or not killing human embryos is murder might become irrelevant is if it is ok in general to murder people to grab their organs. I don't think that any of you really believe that, so stop engaging in argumentation which relies upon it.

cathy :-)
9.9.2005 11:25am
William D. Tanksley, Jr (mail):
Great posts above.

Probably like the President, I'm against embryonic stem cell research. I see no ethical way to do it (although I always read the articles as they come out; I'm eager to find a way).

So I can't say I'm glad to see more people performing it. But I'm okay with not being glad. The world isn't about making me glad, and I don't want it to be -- because I know that I may be wrong, particularly on difficult issues such as this. So I want to see the people who disagree with me having opportunities to act on their disagreements. I just don't want them to be able to force me to pay for the actions they take as a result of their different moral evaluations.

I'm not happy with the state funding for embryonic reasearch, especially since my state is running a deficit and passed a massive spending initiative to perform this. I would rather it be left in the hands of private investors, all of whose money is their own to spend (rather than being forcibly taken from me). But I don't see that as a consequence of the federal gov't refusing to fund; on the contrary, it's a reduced form of the problem that we'd be in if the federal gov't did the same thing. At least we know that *more* of the people whose money is being used willingly voted for it.

-Billy
9.9.2005 11:33am
Taimyoboi:
"Replacing the scramble for federal dollars with the scramble for private dollars would clearly improve the quality of academic research."

AnonymousCoward,
The key distinction lies with the how the funding is obtained (by choice or forced throught taxes); quality is an incidental issue.

I think you'd be hard pressed to argue that the gov't can allocate resources more efficiently than the private market, and that competition is not a better guarantee of quality than gov't bureaucracy.
9.9.2005 11:34am
Carol Anne:
And, cathy, you have a right to that belief. But, absent foundation in fact, you (or a government) should not have the right to enforce that belief on those who do not hold the same view. (The core problem, it seems to me, is that society has never defined what "life" means in an unambiguous way, particularly as applied to human beings, either in science or in law. Solve that problem, and we have a basis for agreement.)

That having been said, I find this Administration utterly lacking in the ability to understand the concept of "unintended consequences" or "second-order effects." So, to posit the notion they intentionally thrust ESC research onto the states for funding doesn't hold water, in my view. They can't prohibit commercial entities from this research (yet; who knows about the future?) and I see no evidence in the record that they intended for states to intervene.

Again, this administation, with a President who professes belief in "Intelligent Design," lets unfounded beliefs trump evidence-based reason.
9.9.2005 11:39am
John Jenkins (mail):
Carol Anne, science defines life for us; the law need not do so. There is no question, I mean *zero* question as to whether human embryos were alive when harvested. That's not even debateable.

The questions are usually whether embryos are human (I think biology answers that: the offspring of two members of the same species is by definition a member of the species) and whether it is worthy of the law's protection (biology doesn't answer that; it's pure philosophy).

You say that cathy has a right to her belief, but absent a foundation in fact she can't force it on anyone. That's interesting, because you are subject to the same attack. You believe that it is morally permissible, so you want to force your views on cathy and those who belive as she does. Ultimately, this line of argument is meaningless because where there is disagreement in a democracy someone's views will be forced on someone else.
9.9.2005 12:06pm
David Berke:
I wonder how those whom are against Stem Cell research feel about those embryos which would have been disposed of anyway?

You may well be against the disposal of such embryos, or indeed believe that such is murder. But, under the existing premise, there are countless embryos which were donated for future fertility purposes, and were never used, and will not be used. Accordingly, pursuant to policies, these are disposed of on some predetermined schedule.

What is the argument against allowing stem cells to be harvested here? Accepting the "murder" terminology, you can have murder or murder + pursuit of science. I suppose an argument could be made for unacceptably heightened legitimacy, but I would like to hear the arguments.
9.9.2005 12:51pm
anonymous coward:
"I think you'd be hard pressed to argue that the gov't can allocate resources more efficiently than the private market, and that competition is not a better guarantee of quality than gov't bureaucracy."
"Efficient" for whom? And over what time horizon? Valuable research--preferably published without threat of being killed for reaching the wrong results--may be in the best interests of society without being in the best (or at least the short-term) interests of any one company (or group of companies).

In any case there are other governments willing to provide funding; the US is thus losing its research edge and will continue to do so (unless we suddenly decide we need to compete Cold War-style with the Chinese).
9.9.2005 1:02pm
anonymous coward:
I assume anti-stem cell research crusaders also want to have something along the lines of Italian fertility laws.
9.9.2005 1:04pm
roy solomon (mail):
So I want to see the people who disagree with me having opportunities to act on their disagreements. I just don't want them to be able to force me to pay for the actions they take as a result of their different moral evaluations.

Does this mean we can fund the military on a state by state basis? I believe the Iraq war is morally wrong, and would vote with my fellow state citizens not to fund it. And those in states where the majority suppourt it can foot the bill.
9.9.2005 1:08pm
SP:
Some people are assuming that the administration not willing to support stem cell research has impacted funding for quantum physics research. Is this true? Because I have seen no evidence to suggest that.
9.9.2005 1:22pm
Mr. Mandias (mail) (www):
"Does this mean we can fund the military on a state by state basis? I believe the Iraq war is morally wrong, and would vote with my fellow state citizens not to fund it. And those in states where the majority suppourt it can foot the bill"

So you're thought is that without federal involvement the Iraq war would have been prosecuted by state and private efforts? Maybe I'm sceptical.
9.9.2005 1:25pm
cathyf:

I wonder how those whom are against Stem Cell research feel about those embryos which would have been disposed of anyway?

Ah, yes, the Mengele defense... Those concentration-camp inmates were gonna be disposed of anyway, why not get some valuable scientific data from them before they die? All us non-Nazi sympathizers "should not have the right to enforce that [unsympathetic to nazis] belief on those who do not hold the same view."

Look, you can't just discard the ethical question of personhood because it's hard and because it interferes with doing what you want to do. I think that it is ethical to kill animals for my benefit (and that ribeye sandwich was mighty tasty last night!) Vegetarians disagree with me. I think that it is ethical to keep cows and chickens and consume their milk and eggs. Ovo-lacto vegetarians agree with me, while vegans disagree with us. I have to have a serious defense of my cow-slaughtering, chicken-raising ways; "it tastes good" is not good enough.

I should point out that murder+organDonation certainly happens and can be considered ethical. If a gang-banger shoots a young, healthy person in the head causing brain death, the murder victim has a high likelihood of being an excellent candidate for organ donor. The key ethical difference is that it's the gang-banger who did the shooting, not the doctors or other agents of the organ recipients, and the murderer is liable to the full force of the law for killing the person. The organ recipients are beneficiaries of a crime that they had no part of causing.

(Hmmmm... There's an idea for a Law And Order plot. Murderer kills person so that his little brother can get a heart transplant... There was a similar episode years ago where the rich guy hired some goons and an unethical doctor to kidnap a guy and steal one of his kidneys for the rich guy's daughter. But there the non-consenting kidney donor survived, so it wasn't murder.)

cathy :-)
9.9.2005 1:58pm
Taimyoboi:
"Valuable research--preferably published without threat of being killed for reaching the wrong results.."

If the research results are valuable, then a private company will carry them out. Companies maximize profits for their investors, they don't maximize political correctness.

Nevertheless, no one is demanding that states can't fund their own research, as California did with a 3 billion dollar bond measure. There is no need in requiring states whose majorities do not wish to fund it to do so.

"In any case there are other governments willing to provide funding; the US is thus losing its research edge and will continue to do so (unless we suddenly decide we need to compete Cold War-style with the Chinese)."

This is bugaboo scare tactics. If the Chinese value conducting embryonic stem cell research then that works in the US's favor too. Comparative advantage allows nations to distribute research production to those willing and able to do so.
9.9.2005 1:59pm
John Jenkins (mail):
David Berke, I think that one could argue that there is a legitimate difference between using an embryo that has already been killed for some other purpose and performing research on it (which act would be morally permissible, irrespective of the predicate act) and those harvested specifically for the purpose of being killed and having research done on them.

It is the difference between murdering someone to take an organ (morally impermissible) and taking an organ from someone who was murdered by someone else (morally permissible) to save a life.

The question becomes whether you think the two acts (harvesting and thereby killing an embryo and murdering a person) are analogous which is a philosophical question that science is not capable of answering insofar as morality has no observable properties.
9.9.2005 2:03pm
David Berke:
Taimyoboi,

I disagree with the following statement: "If the research results are valuable, then a private company will carry them out. Companies maximize profits for their investors, they don't maximize political correctness."

This presumes that a corporation knows what is in its best interests, the value of the invention, or is willing to value long term benefits over short term problems. It is my impression that due to the temporary nature of the employment of those who constitute the corporation that short term costs are overestimated while long term gains are underestimated. Competence usually yields continued employment, but success only sometimes yields promotions, while failures (real or imagined) often lead to being fired. As this appears to be systemic, references to other more efficient corporations appear irrelevant.
9.9.2005 2:15pm
David Berke:
Cathyf,

Keep your red herrings to yourself. Talk of Nazis hardly proves the accuracy of your point, and assumes that your belief is true, without establishing it. (i.e., begs the question.)

I also find that much of your response is...not responsive. You didn't explain what was wrong with using embryos in this manner, instead explaining that the disposal was murder, a point which was not relevant to my precise question. I did not dispute the murder characterization (at least for the purposes of this debate), or attempt to defend it.

As John Jenkins has pointed out, it is entirely possible to believe that this disposal of embroys is unethical and wrong, and to simultaneously accept that if such is going to happen regardless, it is best to seek some good from the bad. Is he, too, a Mengele?
9.9.2005 2:34pm
SimpleVoice:
Mr. Burke writes:


It is my impression that due to the temporary nature of the employment of those who constitute the corporation that short term costs are overestimated while long term gains are underestimated.


This observation is obviously correct, but it doesn't say much about the superior mechansim of correcting a market failure. In my opinion, the beauty of the free-market is a self-restorative-fixing system driven by human ingenuity and a quest for profits. Companies with systemic issues like you describe are living on borrowed time until a company without those issues takes its place.
9.9.2005 2:41pm
myalterego (mail):
I would like to echo and emphasize David Berke's comments with respect to destruction of the embryos. Under the current state of affairs, where new embryonic stem cell lines are being drawn from in vitro fertilization leftovers (I don't mean to sound crass, but that's essentially what they are), you are left with three options. One is that the extra embryos can be saved indefinitely, even though the surplus of embryos far exceeds the demand. Second is the possibility of discarding the embryos outright. Third is to utilize the embryos that would otherwise be saved forever (and not used) or discarded for emryonic stem cell research. I find it difficult to accept the conclusion that the third case is any more morally wrong than the second. Quite the opposite, in fact. The only other logical solution is to oppose creation of embryos for in vitro fertilization (at least beyond those that actually get used - an unrealistic proposition).

On another issue addressed above, I can fully appreciate the argument of limited federal government and the desire to constrain the federal budget. I just happen to disagree if the question is basic scientific research. There are things that are done better by governments, and there are things done better by the private sector. Because of the uncertainty around future applicability of basic research, and the inability to pinpoint exactly how it will be practical in a short time period, much of the private sector doesn't have the economic incentive to finance basic research. True, some companies do, but the federal government does more. Even if the reasons for large amounts of federal research funding are not perfect (purely political gains for instance when a politician campaigns saying s/he voted to increase health research), it still does a good job of funding diverse research.
9.9.2005 2:44pm
anonymous coward:
SP: "Some people are assuming that the administration not willing to support stem cell research has impacted funding for quantum physics research."
Not Bush, but certain posters in this thread find government research funding inappropriate.

Taimyoboi: "If the research results are valuable, then a private company will carry them out."
Even if the results undermine a pharma company's own drugs? (N.B. This is very much an actual, not a theoretical problem.) Sure, perhaps you will argue, but in several years a competing pharma company will fund a study undermining its competitor. Rather sucks for us consumers in the meantime, though. Nevermind; this is all off-topic.

"...Chinese value conducting embryonic stem cell research then that works in the US's favor too. Comparative advantage..."
Personally I'd rather be in the country with the comparative advantage at research; I suppose your Snow Crash-like view of America's future (entertainment industry; perhaps not microcode anymore) may be the more likely one. Also your assumption is not true if we enter, as I postulated, a second cold war with China and we're not freely sharing information, now is it?
9.9.2005 2:55pm
Kevin St. John (mail):

What is the argument against allowing stem cells to be harvested here? Accepting the "murder" terminology, you can have murder or murder + pursuit of science. I suppose an argument could be made for unacceptably heightened legitimacy, but I would like to hear the arguments.


Cathyf's response is certainly one, which I endorse. But I wanted to briefly sketch out simple arguments because I think you are asking a serious and important question. These answers are sometimes inconsistent with one another, but my point here is not advocacy, but merely listing possible ethical responses.

* Embryonic stem cells are initially harvested from living embryos (who then die). That the teleological end for most frozen embryos is death does not change the fact that harvesting is the destructive act.

* You have provided a false choice. Though most "excess" embryos will have their life support cut (by being unfrozen when parents no longer wish to use them), they may be, and can be, adopted and carried to term. In essence, frozen excess embryos are not destined to die anyway.

* Embryos can not consent to medical experimentation, and it is unethical to allow the parents--responsible for their destruction--to provide consent for them.

* ESC research will lead to cloning or require cloning for biomedical application. Five years ago this argument was mocked. Today, it appears likely. ESC face immuno-rejection issues that could prevent their use in biomedical treatments. Cloning humans is ethically wrong for two primary reasons expounded by those who believe it is wrong: (1) it necessitates the need to create life to destroy it; (2) theory of repugnance.

* Pro ESC research claimed (still claim?, not so much b/c of need to clone for therapeutic benefit) that a benefit of ESC is that their duplication ability is "virtually limitless." If this is the case and the moral issue is the destruction itself, then funding existing cell lines where the destruction occurred before federal policy expressly allowed it and without federal funding satisfies the research goal without collaborating in new destruction. (This is the administration's current policy).

* Any federal policy funding research creates an incentive to create embryos for science, even where the primary purpose of creation might have been IVF. Though conflict guidelines might be erected (doctor performing IVF can't use embryos for experimentation; no payment; etc.), the mere fact that the opportunity to donate "excess" embryos will encourage the creation of "excess" embryos b/c patients who might otherwise opt for the more expensive (b/c less successful) IVF procedure that creates one embryo at a time will resolve themselves to the idea that creating excess embryos will at least be used. The indirect effect is thus more embryos created for the purpose of destruction. (This is in part why current policy authorizes funding on only pre-existing lines).

Anyway, those are sketches of some arguments made in response to your question. Certainly, they could be elaborated on further for persuasive value.....





*
9.9.2005 3:18pm
myalterego (mail):
Kevin St. John wrote: * Pro ESC research claimed (still claim?, not so much b/c of need to clone for therapeutic benefit) that a benefit of ESC is that their duplication ability is "virtually limitless." If this is the case and the moral issue is the destruction itself, then funding existing cell lines where the destruction occurred before federal policy expressly allowed it and without federal funding satisfies the research goal without collaborating in new destruction. (This is the administration's current policy).Kevin St. John wrote: * Pro ESC research claimed (still claim?, not so much b/c of need to clone for therapeutic benefit) that a benefit of ESC is that their duplication ability is "virtually limitless." If this is the case and the moral issue is the destruction itself, then funding existing cell lines where the destruction occurred before federal policy expressly allowed it and without federal funding satisfies the research goal without collaborating in new destruction. (This is the administration's current policy).

The problem here is that most, if not all of the stem cell lines that existed before the 2001 policy was announced are and have been contaminated with mouse cells, so they aren't as pure as the anti-ESC forces claim.
9.9.2005 3:33pm
Kevin St. John (mail):
myalterego wrote:


The problem here is that most, if not all of the stem cell lines that existed before the 2001 policy was announced are and have been contaminated with mouse cells, so they aren't as pure as the anti-ESC forces claim.


I believe this is mostly accurate. However, it is my understanding that this is because the "contaminating" animal cells are necessary to allow for the cell reproduction. (The use of animal cells holds the ESC in an undifferentiated state.) And until the work around is developed (scientists are coming closer, to be sure) whereby animal cells are not needed, no cell culture -- including those from post-2001 embryos -- will be "pure" for long.

The ultimate question with the "purity" issue for the short term is whether this affects non-therapeutic research (which is where the scientific development is now), and for the long term, whether it will affect biomedical applications (which is where this technology might lead). The need to answer this latter question has not yet arisen (though it will come soon enough).

Question: do human adult stem cells require animal cells for duplication?
9.9.2005 3:57pm
cathyf:

As John Jenkins has pointed out, it is entirely possible to believe that this disposal of embroys is unethical and wrong, and to simultaneously accept that if such is going to happen regardless, it is best to seek some good from the bad. Is he, too, a Mengele?

Well, to not put too fine a point on it, yes. It seems pretty clear to me that Mengele was also motivated to seek some good from the bad. And it's certainly arguable that his research did have some scientific value.

To continue with the "they are going to be destroyed anyway" argument... Suppose I stand outside abortion clinics and offer women the following bargain:

Come with we, carry your baby to term, give it too me, and I will kill it and use its organs to save the lives of a dozen babies who would otherwise die without organ transplants.

That seems to satisfy both of your criteria -- the human cells are scheduled for disposal anyway, and the benefits to the dozen sick babies is unquestionable. In fact the main difference is that the benefit to the dozen organ-transplant recipients is possible with current technology, as opposed to being only a potential benefit in the case of using the stem cells of a human embryo.

So I conclude that in order for it to be wrong to bargain with the abortion-seeking mother for her baby's cells, but ok to bargain with the IVF parents for their offspring's cells, you must be able to provide some compelling argument that there is some difference between the embryo and the newborn baby which would allow you to carve up the former and not the latter. If you refuse to provide such an argument, and instead simply claim that being in favor of "scientific progress" is enough, then, as I said in the beginning, you are not serious.

This is about the White House Council on Bioethics. I damn well hope that it is peopled with members who are serious about bioethics. But so many of their critics, including JnonV in his topic starter, are clearly not serious about bioethics.

cathy :-)
9.9.2005 4:16pm
John Jenkins (mail):
It's not every day I'm accused of being a Nazi scientist, but cathy, your logic is simply wrong.

My argument is that the killing of the embryo (or person) is a morally distinct act from the research conducted on the remains.

Once the embryo (or person) is already dead by someone else's hand (be it natural causes or murder) then there is no moral reason to oppose using that embryo's tissues (or person's organs) for some scientific purpose.

The moral problem comes when one kills a person (or kills an embryo) for the purpose of doing research. The issue then becomes the philosophical question of "is an embryo a person?" My entire point is that this is a question science is not capable of answering (for reasons I will not repeat). Your supposed counterexample is exactly the situation I have already recognized as morally impermissible.
9.9.2005 5:25pm
cathyf:

Once the embryo (or person) is already dead by someone else's hand (be it natural causes or murder) then there is no moral reason to oppose using that embryo's tissues (or person's organs) for some scientific purpose.

But in the specific case of harvesting embryonic cells, it is the scientist who kills the embyo. If somebody other than the scientist (or the scientist's agent) kills the embryo, then the stem cells are dead and useless to the scientist.

In the case of organ transplants from brain dead people, we have constructed a narrow ethical path. The organ donor must already be brain dead and so when the transplant team comes and takes their organs they kill the person in a biology sense, but in an ethical/legal sense that person was already dead. If the person was rendered brain dead by the murderous actions of another, then we hold that person as the murderer, not the doctor who, in a biology sense, actually killed the organ donor.

The main difference between a brain-dead person and an embryo is that the brain-dead person is irrevocably dead and can never come back to life. Whereas an embryo could be implanted and be born and be a baby that we all (most?) agree couldn't just be killed. The "well the embryos are just gonna get tossed anyway" argument seems to be saying that "unwanted by the parents" is somehow equivalent to "brain dead" in that it means that some medical person can come by and kill (in a biology sense) the organ donor without being a murderer.

cathy :-)
9.9.2005 7:01pm
Kevin St. John (mail):

Once the embryo (or person) is already dead by someone else's hand (be it natural causes or murder) then there is no moral reason to oppose using that embryo's tissues (or person's organs) for some scientific purpose.


If one dies by natural causes, does science have a right to his organs without his consent? If so, why isn't the inability of the embryo to consent (for obvious reasons) a perfectly good moral reason? Surely there is an extreme moral question presented by an answer that says that consent could be provided by the parent who's act or omission caused the embryo to die.
9.9.2005 7:03pm
Jonathan Swift:
Also, we should be doing more to experiment on young children with terminal illness. They're gonna die anyway. And that factor, without more, is enough to seal the deal, I'm told.

And we shouldn't be so picky about whether death is imminent in 90 days, or one year, or whatever. As long as they're on a definite track toward death, we should act now. Same for adults. Anyone who is going to die should be fair game for experimentation, as long as the majority agrees it's OK.
9.9.2005 9:43pm
unhyphenatedconservative (mail):
David Berke,

Your argument is essentially that the embryos will be disposed of, therefore we can experiment on them as we please.

We are all going to be disposed of, in that we will all die. Are all humans therefore fair game for experimentation? After all, it would be awful to waste those resources....

More pointedly, death row prisoners will have a more definte point of death that is not their natural lifespan. Do you argue that before an inmate would be put to death that we could carve him up like a Christmas turkey?
9.10.2005 1:28am
David Berke:
Truly amazing, the depths of hyperbole that people will fall to in order to attack me for an argument I never made. I asked a question. Since when is asking a question assuming the righteousness of the predicate statements? Some people are so anxious to attack a particular viewpoint, it doesn't seem to matter whether the viewpoint was offered up, the mere reference suffices.
9.10.2005 5:31am