Friday, July 07, 2006

He's Thinkin What I'm Sayin

Michael Kinsley has a good op-ed in the Post today about stem cell research and the primary reason given for opposing it: the practice causes the death of embryos, which, if you believe human life begins at fertilization, should be considered murder. Kinsley notes that if you believe every single human embryo must be protected, then you can't possibly support in vitro fertilization.
Proponents of stem cell research like to emphasize that it doesn't cost the life of a single embryo. The embryos killed to extract their stem cells were doomed already. But this argument gives too much ground, and misses the point. If embryos are human beings, it's not okay to kill them for their stem cells just because you were going to kill them, or knowingly let them die, anyway. The better point -- the killer point, if you'll pardon the expression -- is that if embryos are human beings, the routine practices of fertility clinics are far worse -- both in numbers and in criminal intent -- than stem cell research. And yet, no one objects, or objects very loudly. President Bush actually praised the work of fertility clinics in his first speech announcing restrictions on stem cells.
Me, I don't think human life begins at fertilization, so I have no moral qualms about in vitro. Nothing is more understandable than a couple wanting their kids to share their genetics.

I see this issue raised on the librul blogs sometimes (lordy, do we love the "Five blastocysts in a dish and a live baby are in a burning building, which do you save?" zinger), but I never hear it discussed in a neutral forum on TV or read about it in the newspapers, except in op-ed form like the above. What gives?


Noah said...

Beyond creationism or intelligent design, the stem cell debate seems to be one of the bastions of the "science is bad" crowd. In my mind, banning stem cell research is a better example of the greater harm done to society by these folks than the dismissal of the cervical cancer vaccine by the very same crowd.

Here before us is a potential cure for every dibilitating or mortal disease we can think of. The paradox created for the Right to Life corwd, by the dismissal or over-regulation of this research (or the banning of this research), becomes which life is worth saving: the cancer patient's or the embryo's? They have chosen to screw the cancer patient in lieu of the embryo. Interesting.

There is no question for the rest of us. We see the benefit. Embryos are not and will not be harvested; that's just a little sick and unethical.

As to why it's not discussed more broadly in a neutral format? I suspect because it's too charged to make for rationality...makes them newspeople nervous and sweaty.

Thrillhous said...

That's about what I've come up with so far. It's too charged an issue, especially the contrast with in vitro fertilization, for the media regulars. Too easy to get into a flame war.

I also wonder if the stem cell debate never got it's full airing, as the prez announced his decision to prohibit productive stem cell research in the days before 9/11.

Otto Man said...

"Five blastocysts in a dish and a live baby are in a burning building, which do you save?"

Easy, the building. Property is the only thing more important than womb babies, remember?

Thrillhous said...

Ha! You have cut the Gordian knot, Otto.

Which I think Dobson has declared is blasphemous. You're so screwed.