Paging Dr. Frankenstein....Dr. Frankenstein to the White Courtesy Phone...

There has been a lot of media coverage regarding the bill in Congress supporting stem cell research and President Bush's promise to veto it. Over at BlogHer Dana from The Dana Files gave us her opinion about the subject. It's sparked quite the little debate, with your's truely chiming in a time or two herself.

One of the points that has been raised is the issue of how abortion fits in (the fetuses used for stem cell research come from abortions) and when life starts. The question being asked? Are we using the byprduct of murder to further medical research?

Suzanne replied to the post and pointed out that comparing a zygote to a child is not really an accurate comparison and that to use that comparison to make an accusation of murder would be wrong. And she's right.

Life technically begins the minute an egg is fertilized. Technically. A child however, in my mind, doesn't come into being until much later. And it is at that stage, at the fetal stage, when abortions are performed. We are not discussing the interruption of zygomatic development here, we are discussing the use to aborted fetuses for the use in medical experimentation. Those fetuses have arms, legs, heads, eyes...they look like human beings. While it remains true that they would not have been mature enough to support themselves independently of their mother's body, does not make them any less human.

Now, that being said, let me make a second point. The issue of stem cell research really isn't about abortion. A woman's right to reproductive control is her own. Abortion is legal. I may not agree with it for my own reasons, but I would never belittle of denounce another for having excercised her right to have one. I will continue to work for better education, better access to birth control and better medical care in the hopes that one day the choice to have an abortion will be obsolete...but I will never call someone that chooses to have one a murderer. I have not walked that path, and so have no right to sling those barbs.

No, the issue of stem cell research is not about reproductive freedom. That stops as soon as the abortion procedure has been completed. At that point we cross into a whole seperate moral and ethical arena. I object to the use of fetal tissue for stem cell research because of the future implications it has on our society. If we make it okay to gather aborted fetuses for medical experimentation, where do we draw the line? At what point are we unable to look the other way? There are militant groups defending the rights of animals from experimentation...can you imagine what will spring up if stem cell research is allowed on aborted fetuses?

Our society will continue to evolve and change. At some point abortion will become an outdated procedure. Birth control options and post contact methods will make it obsolete...and then what. Where will the material for this miraculous research come from then? Once we open this particulay Pandora's Box, we won't be able to close it.

Once we step into that territory, where we make one exception, it will become easier to make others. Who's lives are worth what exceptions? What illnesses are worth what risks? How far would we be willing to go in the quest for perfection and the effort to cheat death?

Death and illness are a part of life. People die. Sometimes there is no reason for it. Playing God will not change that. In fact, it could make it worse. If we start screwing around with the human genetic code, there's no telling what could happen. I have children. I wouldn't want to see them suffer for any reason, but I'm also not willing to consign them to a future of scientific and ethical uncertainty to prevent it.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this post.

Another point with ECSR is that the stem cells come from embryos and once the cells are extracted, the embryo dies. To say that this is not the taking of a life, also called murder,genocide, killing, is wrong.

Life begins at conception, not at birth. Not at 9 weeks gestation. It begins at conception. The fine lines are only drawn up in the political sense because it's easier to be ignorant in this country, it seems.

Paula said...

"The bill would permit funding for research on embryonic stem cells regardless of the date of their creation, so long as they were donated from in-vitro fertilization clinics, they would "otherwise be discarded" and donors gave their approval."

That was from an MSNBC article (might have been your link, or one linked to it, not sure). No one's talking about using parts of aborted fetuses here, and saying that this bill is bad because some OTHER bill that doesn't even exist might let them use parts of aborted fetuses is plain hysteria. That isn't what THIS bill says. Defeating this bill is not going to help all those unused IVF embryos turn into babies - they'll just be thrown in the trash anyway. Perhaps "God" wants us to use our brains to cure diseases, hmm?

ian said...

Good post. Medical science is full of Frankenstein stuff these days. What really makes me nervous is organ donation. I refuse to be an organ donor, because I want a doctor to be more interested in saving my life than in "hastening" my death so my organs aren't damaged too much.


Anonymous said...

Have to say, I'm hugely pro-choice (which you know) and have always been all for stem cell research (which you didn't)...but your post has really made me think about that stance, and consider things that, before reading, had not occurred to me.

So thanks!