I had a weird dream the other night of a sort of shady 'businessman' who was trying to draw me into his biz by challenging me to write political papers on this and that subject (and oh yeah, sell his junk door-to-door), on a daily schedule. My friend from church was warning me not to go with the guy, but I felt like I should at least write his first paper - on stem cells. So when I woke up, I had an idea for a post. I guess you could say it's inspired by a dream!
I actually just wanted to take this in a direction that I don't often hear explored.
My position, first of all - no embryonic stem cell research is justifiable. At all. Pursue other avenues of stem cells: adult stem cells like from bone marrow, umbilical cord blood stem cells, wherever else you can find them. Why? B/c I believe the only justifiable position is that fertilised human eggs aka embryos are human beings and entitled to full protection of law, human rights, and ethical behavior. If someone were inclined to object, I'd simply ask them a series of questions to ascertain when exactly a young offspring of humans becomes a human being.
Typically the answer takes one of two forms:
1) When the baby is viable outside the womb to live by himself or herself.
-Yet there are quite a few humans I know of who are not viable outside the womb.
The pro-murder person might answer that most of these people WERE viable but have become non-viable.
I ask how that matters in the slightest except in my opponent's arbitrary morality by personal fiat.
-No baby is viable to live outside the womb without help. They require things like shelter, milk, and diaper-changing. To insist that these things are merely givens begs the question.
2) When the baby begins to exhibit brain waves.
Why does this matter? Often they allege it is b/c at that point the baby is capable of experiencing pain.
A great many pro-death people have worldviews that are highly influenced by, if not full-blown, naturalism and empiricism.
I ask: How do you know, how have you observed that brain waves = now the baby can experience pain?
They answer: B/c we see human pain reflected in adult and child brain waves, so we compare them to fetal brain waves.
I ask: How have you observed that brain waves are the sole connection to someone's experiencing pain?
They answer: What else could it be? The cosmic ether? A divine miracle?
I ask: My position on this question is irrelevant. How have you observed it?
They answer: ...
I ask: Exactly. You haven't observed and can't observe whether a one-day-old embryo can experience pain. I don't remember when I was one day old, you don't remember it either, and we can't enter into the psyche of said embryo to find out. So your justification for killing this whatever-it-is is bogus. I suppose you're OK with shooting a machine gun at random while blindfolded too, b/c you probably won't hit something valuable and living.
I also ask: What makes "capable of experiencing pain" the touchstone of humanity? I'd lay down a typical dialogue on those lines, but they never answer.
I also ask: So, it's OK to kill embryos, whose consciousness and capabilities and capacities we don't understand all that well, in the interest of furthering medical research, but you'd cringe at my experimenting on and killing horses/puppies/bunnies/monkeys/chimps/elephants/golden condors for the purposes of furthering medical research? You're on board for killing the offspring of humans, but not the slightly-older offspring of elephants?
That's one of my favorite things (and by "favorite", I mean "most revolting") about the Left and pro-choicers. In general, they support pro-choice AND the general prevention of cruelty to animals. But they have no problem sticking blades into, dismembering with suction devices, and using chemical weapons on very young babies. There's no way they'd do that with animals! But with really young babies, you know, what the hell, why not? I mean, we're not sure what they are, but we DO know their mother is inconvenienced by their presence, so let's go for the gusto (and the jugular [literally])! They're DEFINITELY of less value than rabbits!
You can't observe that the conditions for your own process of moral justification are in fact so, and thus said conditions remain unproved on your own empiricist worldview. You have no justification for your discrimination. You are an age-ist bigot.
Consider an illustration in closing, in response to the common question "But what about the existing lines of embryonic stem cells, frozen and awaiting destruction or some other fate?"
These lines are extracted/enabled by a process I don't understand well, but I do know that it involves the destruction of most of the embryos in the process, much like in vitro fertilisation. Once the human egg is fertilised and develops a bit, she is deep frozen to preserve her for later experimentation. To thaw her and attempt to implant her in a living woman to bring her to term and deliver her is dicey under current technological conditions and carries a low probability of success, even with proper care.
The pro-baby-murder advocate will thus argue that, since these frozen embryos have such a low chance of survival and delivery as a baby, we should go ahead and use them for the existing stem cell research.
Let's say we had a nursing home filled with 100 people between the ages of 70 and 90 yrs, and all of them have the same terminal disease. Without any of the proper care, all of them will die of this disease within a month or so. With proper and directed, specific care, a low % of them will recover from the terminal illness and will probably be able to live years longer, not a month. Shall we conclude that it is permissible to take these terminal patients and deny them the proper and directed care, immobilise them and render them unconscious, and harvest their bodies for organs and bone marrow and brain tissue for the purpose of medical experimentation and the furthering of medical technology and understanding?
What's the difference between this and using these "existing stem cell lines"? 2 things only: the embryos are much smaller, and the embryos have no families or stockbrokers or powers of attorney to speak for them to object to this inhumane treatment by cruel and morally blind age-ist bigots.