12 April 2007

Stem Cell Followup

There were a couple of interesting responses to my last post; I'll post Marshwiggle's here, along with some of my thoughts on the issues he raises.

Please note Bush's support for the alternative bill using adult stem cell research before condemning him as antiscientific. In the meantime, please point out one cure that embryonic research has been able to accomplish that adult cells have not?

You may have a point about fertility clinics. Perhaps the prolife movement can address that after the abortion clinic problem is taken care of. :) In the meantime, the idea of growing humans for body parts, especially children/embryos that have no say in the matter is surely raising troubling morality issues for you?
The problem with old tissue is that it often is not nearly as flexible as new tissue. That's why relying solely on adult stem cells is somewhat problematic. Besides, to dismiss a readily available source for research -- particularly when the "murder," if it is one, has already been committed by perfectly legal fertility clinics -- seems a bit short-sighted to me.

It also was not my intention to declare all-out jihad on fertility clinics; I think EB has a good point when he observes:
In the end, fertility clinics are a moral good because they let the infertile have children. Letting embryos be wasted when they could be saving lives seems like a political move designed to appease the base, not any real morality or science.
As for showing you progress of the research on adult vs. embryonic stem cells, I'm afraid that I don't know enough about the matter to do so. But I would remark that embryonic stem cell research is bound to be at least six years behind adult stem cell research, for obvious political reasons, so perhaps it isn't fair to call for such evidence yet (and, indeed, won't be until scientists are allowed to investigate the question).

If I thought what was happening was, in fact, growing humans for body parts, I would have some fairly substantial objections to it. But I don't necessarily think that, for the reason I stated above: Any "murder," if there is one, is over and done with (legally, I might add) long before researchers become involved. And, as EB observes, there is perhaps room to argue over whether there was a murder in the first place:
I think most people recognize that calling the combination of a sperm and egg, frozen and perpetually waiting for a womb or to be thrown out--to call that small group of cells a person is problematic.

Given the complete inability for those cells to become a human being without a womb, I would argue that at very least humanity can't start until successful implantation in the uterus.
I'm not saying I want to abort as many fetuses as possible and then use their tissue for devious scientific experiments on raising the dead and so forth. I do, however, think we should give embryonic stem cell research much more open-minded consideration than we currently are.

It's also worth noting that the number of senators who approve of such research is steadily growing and is now only four votes away from what is needed to override a veto (yesterday's vote was 63-34). If that trend continues, or if an embryonic research-friendly prez is elected in 2008, I suppose the overwhelming voice of public opinion will make this a moot discussion.

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