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Jack Sisson's Life Ethics Blog

We must find new ways through many ethical issues, especially regarding bioethics, medical ethics, and criminal justice. Jack Sisson's 'Life Ethics' blog focuses on numerous areas of concern, including the philosophical and ethical dilemmas surrounding stem-cell research, abortion, medical research, and health care.

Well, we all knew it was just a matter of time before "God's Rottweiler" commented on our When Human Life Begins debate. Although I am tasked to enforcing the Conservative position, I have avoided direct God-talk until now. Raised in a very strict Catholic household, I was brought up to believe that the Pope's word was to be taken as the literal word of God and to be obeyed accordingly. In his first publication since his election (via the Washington Post article: Church can never accept abortion - Pope's book the Pope says, "There is no such thing as 'small murders'. Respect for every single life is an essential condition for anything worthy of being called social life." Taking the word "murder" literally, you can certainly make 95% of a case against both abortion and stem cell research. My personal understanding of the word is "the killing of a human being by a human being". Of course, that 5% remainder is the reason for this blog.

I am not saying a single egg is a human life nor is a single sperm. Or millions of each. What I'm saying is that (as far as I know) there is ONE way to create a human life: a human sperm and a human egg intersecting. Do I or the Pope or Toni or you know if this intersection makes a human life? Nope. Neither do the most devout evangelical or the most adamant atheist. For argument's sake, let's say human life doesn't start at conception. Doesn't that cheapen our existance; make it more pedestrian? That rather than being "a human" from the start we're just some random cells? We don't turn into pandas. We don't turn into acacia trees. We grow into people.

While I am no longer quite so big on the Pope, I think one of the points he's making is this: play it safe. In X years, if and when science can prove "human life" can start on the Nth day then harvest away. But until that point and you know FOR SURE that we're not prematurely ending the lives of thousands (millions?) then wouldn't you rather play it safe? Sometimes it feels good to be able to sleep at night.

I think that our only option is not to debate the ‘origin of life’ but to search out alternative means of getting stem cells, i.e. research with adult stem cells and teratomas. There is always more than one way to skin a cat and if you can’t convince the other side of your argument then you must search for another way to get what you want. We are falling too far behind to continue debating this tired concept of when life is life.
I don't really understand how we're falling behind. We'd be complete fools to think we're going have these miracle genetic therapies in our lifetimes. We might as well resign ourselves to this way of thinking and focus our efforts into unifying (at least discussing) the ethical issues so that when these therapies are able to be made available to the masses it will not need to be held up of needless squawking.
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