Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Stem Cells

It seems that one of the biggest stories floating around in the news at the moment is President Bush and the issue of Embryonic Stem Cell research. Even more interesting are the different positions taken by the internet world. It seems the lead writer over at Virginia Progressive is in favor of stem cell research, while the entire Red State site is against the research. This issue does raise a number of moral and ethical questions. First and foremost is the issue of when does human life begin.

Catholics believe that life begins at the moment of conception, while there are others who feel life does not begin until further down the line in the pregnancy. As a result, some people can compare this issue with that of abortion.

Fact of the Matter

The fact of the matter on this situation is that this is a really tricky situation. As for me, there are other questions which come to mind when I think about stem cell research. VA Progressive has a quote from Jim Webb where he talks about needing “responsible research” when it comes to stem cell research. There, in effect, is where the dilemma lies. Define responsible.

It can begin with the whole principle of looking for cures for diseases, which is honorable. But then comes a new issue: what happens when the doctors want to rewrite the stem cells an create it as a way to create a new type of person? Their logic would be along the lines of eliminating disease and trying to help create a disease free world. Problem with that is we begin to genetically create a new breed of human.

Now I know this sounds very science fiction like, but lets be fair about this. How many things in the world today would be considered science fiction forty or fifty years ago? As your brain begins to wrap itself around that question and answer it, lets get back to the stem cells and a new breed of humans. I can’t help but feel that “responsible research” could be the foundations to a VERY dangerous path.

Think about it, eliminating diseases leads to ways in which parents can genetically create the type of child they want. Sounds a little bit like Gattaca. Lets go a little further and admit that this could lead to something very similar to Hitler’s dogma on creating a master race.
And again, I go back to the “responsible research” idea. It can be as honorable as it gets, but the problem is that in end, we are still walking down a dangerous path. So what if I am taking this too far and assuming too much? I wonder if that was the same question someone asked another person like myself in 1938 when Hitler was making territorial demands.

So let’s not condemn the President for vetoing this bill. Let’s not condemn those who voted against it. This all comes down to basic personal beliefs. It is our own way of making decisions which makes us unique.


Craig said...

The reason that I disagree with you on this is that cloning of human beings is already outlawed in the United States. This is not about using embryos to experiment towards cloning human beings. It is about using embryos that would otherwise be destroyed (thrown out, discarded, however you prefer to think of it) to possibly find cures to diseases like diabetes, cancer, etc. I don't understand why using embryos for the good of mankind is worse than tossing them out as medical waste. Trying to make this out to be about issues like cloning masks the real issues involved. Using these embryos does more to protect and honor the sanctity of life than throwing them away.

BDM said...

I never said the word cloning. If you read the post, it points out that a parent could then create the type of child they wanted. Part of Embryonic Stem Cells is that docotrs would rewrite the cell to fit a particular genetic structure.

Have you seen Gattaca? The film shows how parents can create their perfect child. So don't put words in my mouth.

As for protect and honor the sanctity of life, there are lots of ways to argue with that. Where to begin is another story for another day.

Craig said...

BDM, I have indeed seen Gattaca. It was an excellent movie. I apologize, I did not mean to go astry on the cloning issue. I agree that designer children would be bad, but think that if there are genetic defects that could be cured inutero that would be beneficial.

My main point is that throwing out the embryos when they could be used for so much possible good seems wrong. I think that people have the right to their beliefs but the president is voting against the wishes of 70% of Americans.

BDM said...

Where is your source on 70% of Americans are in favor of this? If it is stem cell research, then you could be accused of "spin" by saying this is the number of Americans behind this bill. But if it is embryonic stem cell, then that is another story.

Problem with fixing "genetic defects" is that eventually you will create the designer babies. Some parents might want to fix say Down Syndrome, but if you notice, society is VERY shallow and the use of this kind of procedure can lead to disasterous results.

Also, as I mentioned in the post, "responsible research" is something that is in the eye of the beholder. Who is going to define what that is? One scientist might not agree with another one.

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