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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.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
If human life begins at conception, what about twinning, chimeras and menses?
Came across a Web site called Father Joe: From silly to sacred, a priest speaks … Here's an excerpt from one of his posts:
OBAMA: “The issue of abortion, I don’t think, has gone away. People think about it a lot, obviously you do and you feel impassioned. I think that the American people struggle with two principles: There’s the principle that a fetus is not just an appendage, it’s potential life. I think people recognize that there’s a moral element to that. They also believe that women should have some control over their bodies and themselves and there is a privacy element to making those decisions.”Now Father Joe seems like a nice man, and I'm sure he's sincere in his beliefs. But they are no more than that -- beliefs. People who continue to insist that life begins at conception, ignore, among other things, issues like twinning, where the embryo splits into two separate ones. Or chimeras, when two distinct embryos merge into one. I've yet to hear a satisfactory explanation for those occurences if, as Father Joe and many others believe, life begins at conception.
And what about the fact that thousands upon thousands of embryos are passed every month by women who never even know they're pregnant. Are we to view those (surely billions by now) microscopic particles as distinct human beings who all died? What a mess that creates for anti-choicers. As Jack likes to say, maybe the Church should start baptizing the menstrual flow to cover all those "human beings" who are flushed away every month.
Continue reading (the comments to Father Joe's post are interesting as well).
Embryonic Stem Cells Help Rats Recover from Strokes
ScienceDaily (Feb. 20, 2008:
Neural cells derived from human embryonic stem cells helped repair stroke-related damage in the brains of rats and led to improvements in their physical abilities after a stroke, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.Continue reading.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Now Here's a Debate on the Beginning of Human Life
George and Tollefsen assume a clear distinction between wholes and parts. Eggs and sperm are parts, they reason, while an embryo is a whole. At conception, the parts become a whole, the program launches, and personhood begins. But it isn't that simple. Some embryos divide after conception to become two or more people. Are those embryos, prior to twinning, an individual?And:
The egg-embryo distinction, too, is permeable. George and Tollefsen write that eggs must combine with sperm or die. They say an organism "was never itself a sperm cell or an ovum." But look what just happened at a zoo in Kansas: another case of parthenogenesis—eggs becoming offspring without fertilization. This process has produced adults in dozens of vertebrate species, including sharks and turkeys.I highly recommend that you read the whole article (and George and Tollefsen's response to Saletan's original review). It's a fascinating, intelligent back-and-forth on this blog's signature topic, the beginning of human life.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Does the Anti-Choice Movement Exploit Bad Science?
The following is excerpted from a blog post at Petunia's.
Well, then. I was getting ready to post about this article on embryonic research and I noticed that it went well with this post Amanda at Pandagon put up a bit ago. Nice timing. Anyway, the article notes the attempt to define the beginning of human life as contraception using science:
“To be a complete human organism,” they write, “an entity must possess a developmental program (including both its DNA and epigenetic factors) oriented toward developing a brain and central nervous system.” The program begins at conception; therefore, so does personhood.And later:
The program’s collective nature doesn’t discredit individual rights. But it does complicate the authors’ task. They have to show that the embryo is an individual, not just a program. Here, again, science defies them. They write that the embryo’s cells “function together to develop into a single, more mature member of the human species.” Not quite. In one of every 300 cases, the embryo splits to become two or more people, at least one of whom wasn’t a distinct organism at conception. And in every case, part of the embryo becomes placenta, nurturing the other part and passing away. The embryo, too, is collective. [Emphasis added.]The song and dance with science here is the religious right’s way to try to get contraception outlawed. If they can convince people that embryos are human, then they’re half the way there. In fact most of the way and if they can use science language to help they will, just as they use the language of science to argue for intelligent design (a disguise for creationism–ie religion). The fact that their science is bad might not matter, because it’s just a smokescreen.
Read the entire post.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
BOOK REVIEW-- Embryo: A Defense of Human Life
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
What Does Mitt Romney Really Think?
I had no sooner posted my previous entry than I came across this: A Report on the Pro-life Views of Governor Mitt Romney.
Mass Resistance, a self-described "pro-family action center for Massachusetts" is urging its members not to vote for Romney. Now this is rather unsettling for me, since I just posted an entry listing reasons I wouldn't vote for him, and I now find myself aligned with a very conservative, "traditional values" group, who says don't vote for him because he's not pro-family, pro-life, pro-traditional values enough! I have to admit that after reading their report, I'm confused about what positions Romney really supports. This is all probably moot at this point, because it looks like McCain has the Republican nomination secured (but maybe not). In any case, if you'd like to read more about Romney's evolving views, just click here.
Different Perspectives on Values
Although I'm quite sure this is NOT the reason Jon Colton posted the following list on the "Californians for Mitt Romney" Web site, it sure points out many reasons I would never vote for Romney. (Actually the 3rd and 5th points are reason enough to make it to this site.)
• Governor Romney Vetoed Legislation That Would Have Provided For The "Morning After Pill" Without A Prescription. (Governor Mitt Romney, Op-Ed, "Why I Vetoed The Contraception Bill," The Boston Globe, 7/26/05)These folks who trumpet "traditional family values" sure seem intent on defining "family" to suit their own preferences. Not to mention "values." Well, I have a family, and I believe I have values, but I don't agree with one point on this list. So what does that say? You tell me.
Roe v. Wade
Stem Cell Fight!
Bush the hypocrite
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