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Jane Lake and Amniotic-Fluid Stem Cells!


One technology after another is developed that shows that embryonic stem cell research is Draconian. Between umbilical cord cells, adult stem cells, and now amniotic-fluid stem cells, a high percentage of any potential benefit that embryonic stem cell research might muster, if any, can be investigated using alternative methodology.

Why continue to utilize methods that are considered by many to be unethical and potentially fruitless when we now have clear alternatives?

1) Monetary gain - grants have been given for embryonic stem cell research. Both the grantors and recipients would lose out on funds already spent.

2) Stubborness - people don't want to admit that all the energy and effort that they put into fighting for embryonic stem cell was for naught.

3) Selfishness - If it will help me one day sooner than I don't care about the ethics!

4) Political gain - many Democrats have used this issue as a stick against their Republican foes, and they wouldn't want to find themselves on the opposite side of the beating!

The bottom line is that given the potential of all of the alternatives, it is an abomination to pursue any further a technique that millions of people in this country believe is killing innocent lives.

Let's all grow up and do what is right!

I entered this in the Philosophy Blog War. Pleases vote for my entry here:

VOTE FOR JANE!

But is it any more unethical to use test tube grown embryos for medical research than to throw them in the trash? Because current plans for embryonic stem cell research involve leftover embryos from fertility clinics. When a couple enters a fertility clinic intending to use their own gametes to help them get pregnant, multiple embryos are created to increase the chances of getting a viable one. In many cases, more than one viable embryo is achieved. However, most of time these extra embryos are disposed of. How is that more ethically acceptable than using these embryos for research that could save countless lives?

Yes, there are alternative sources of stem cells. Everyone on earth had them. But embryonic stem cells are better because they are more plentiful and easier to extract than amniotic or adult stem cells. An embryo in the early stages of development is essentially all stem cells, no concentration required. It is easy to contaminate stem cells extracted from other sources with partially differentiated cells, but embryonic stem cells help to minimize this problem. Understanding what stem cells are (undifferentiated cells that can literally become ANY type of cell) and how they develop is essential to understanding the benefits of the different types of stem cell research. The possibilities are limitless with these cells.

Probably your number 1 reason is the only one in the end....$$$...of course we should do what is right....if no one made $$ on abortions it would be easy to stop doing them....if no one made $$ on the war in Iraq it would have never started.....it is truly the root of all evil...would that we could all overlook the monetary benefit in any decision, personal and public and just do what is right...a tall order, but one worth continuing to pursue...especially in this troubling area of embryonic stem cell research...

Hahahaha. Stem cells do not come from abortions. As the first commenter said they come from the extras used for in vitro fertilization. Are you against that? Why don't you post about how you hate in vitro fertilization.

Also you don't know anything about science. These stem cells are not the same as embryonic stem cells. Embryonic ones do not have any genetic code which makes them much easier to program. You just show your ignorance. Thankfully most of our country is not so ignorant.

Cuevas:

Hahahaha. Stem cells do come from abortions. In Vitro procedures should not allow excess embryos to be created. That is a heinous oversight of the procedure. Also, frozen embryos should be required to be used within a certain time period, or otherwise donated to couples who would utilize them. They should never be allowed to be discarded, or used for research.

Also you don't know anything about science. Research is based on theory, not fact. It is just as likely that adult stem cells will prove more effective than embryonic stem cells. You just show your ignorance. Thankfully most of our country is not so ignorant.

The following is all you needed to say...

1) Monetary gain


That is one of the biggest problems with any advancements for helping the Entire World we have these days...

I think blissfully anonymous summed up the argument pretty well.

If you want to stop unethical treatment of stem cells, then you best get over to the fertility clinics and make them stop helping women get pregnant. Because once that occurs, the rest is a slippery slope. You cannot 'get rid' of those cells without destroying them somehow: our population can't handle the millions of extra births per year, even if there were women that wanted to carry them.

tp

Blissfully/TP

I guess that means that if someone finds out they have a terminal illness we can strip them of their rights and do experiments on them!

We are all going to die. Whether it is as a frozen embryo or a 120 year old, the thing that is constant is that life should be respected from conception to natural death.

We must limit the number of embryos created in fertility treatments to the number that the couple is willing to put back in the womb. There should never be a reason to have "extra" embryos.

The excess that currently exists could easily be absorbed by couples that would want to utilize them. Alternatively, they should be allowed to die in a respectful manner. Ripping them apart and using them on experiments that are not necessary is an abomination.

I think part of the problem is at what point do cells get rights. An embryo is not a fetus, nor is it a person, so to afford it the same rights as a living person who is contributing to society is not really fair or appropriate.

The reality is that stem cell research, whether it be embryonic, amniotic or whatever the next incarnation is, offer the best hope for treatment of many diseases and condidtions.

Even if we see embryonic stem cell research as morally questionable (which I do not think you can actually make a sound argument for), then it need to be explored.

It may be that after ayear of research on embryonic stem cells, they determine that amniotic or other stem cells work just as well and are easier to harvest - the research will the switch to that direction and embryonic stem cell research will be a quirky experiement. The point is we need to let the research go with it if we are going to have any hope of finding cures for these things.

An embryo is NOT a baby. It is a potential baby, but so are the eggs many people had for breakfast. In fact every egg or sperm is a potential baby, but we don't call all masturbators abortionists (if we did there would be A LOT of serial killers out there!)

Besides I think we would be better served by helping the citizens that we HAVE vs. the ones that we MIGHT have.

Navillus:

Let me first correct your false statements.

An egg and sperm do not have a full complement of chromosomes and are not a person.

An embryo does and is a person, or baby if you will. There is nothing potential about it. A 2 year old is a potential 3 year old. Big deal. That terminology is meaningless. He/she contributes to society no differently than a newborn does.

It is selfish and convenient for people to want to believe otherwise. There is no scientific basis that life is anything but a continuum from conception to natural death. To consider birth as anything other than a stage in life, not unlike puberty is silly!

Our dependencies change throughout our lives. We are dependent on our mothers to feed us until we are born, and for many a year or two after birth. We are dependent on our parents and families to watch over us until we go off on our own. We are dependent on society to let us get to that point by not allowing us to be killed to utilize grant money!

I'll be honest here, you are not making a very good argument, it really only sounds like christian conservative dogma and ranting.

Are you actually suggesting that an embryo is capable of making a contribution to society (apart from the obvious one by donating stem cells of course)?

However, in fairness, I assume that you are going to make the argument that life begins at conception, at which point I'm also going to assume that you believe that a soul enters that fertilized egg which becomes that embryo. If you do not beleive both of these things then you have no point, so I'm going to assume both.

Where do you go with in vitro fertilization? If a scientist fertilizes an egg in the lab, does that collection of cells get a soul too? But again, assuming the previous about you, you would then be seeming to make the argument that an unborn baby (at any stage of the process from conception to birth) has more value at every stage than any other living (post born) human.

For by this ratonale, you would not intentionally abort a fetus or take an embryonic stem cell in the hope of preventing or curing a disease in an an existing human (or even possibly the later life of the very embryo's that you refused to take stem cells from previously). You are not saying that embryo's and living humans are equal because you are asking others to forgo potentially life saving research in favor of this embryo.

The other argument you seem to be making is that scientists are only pursuing stem cell research using embryonic stem cells for grant money - the implication being that they don't care what research they are doing. I would like to see some support for this.

It may be true that research dollars are currently going to embryonic stem cell research at present because that is the only sound research platform in this area. The amniotic stem cells have not been studied enough yet to allow them to replace embryonic cells.

If the grant money is what you are concerned about, why not encourage the Christian Right that seems to be the ones agitating for this fight against stem cells and get them to offer up some grant money for amniotic stem cell research. Certainly if they redirected much of the dollars that are currently being spent on legal fees for constitutional violations, building ridiculous creationist dinosaur museums and trashing the minds of parents and kids everwhere trying to convince them that the flying spaghetti monster created the universe in six days there may never need to be another embryonic stem cell used.

Jane: the 'excess that currently exists' numbers in the millions... you honestly believe that this could be 'easily absorbed'? Are you volunteering to carry and raise someone else's genetic child? Because to implant all of the current excess would require all those millions that believe it is right to step up and 'put thier money where thier mouth is'!

Of course, this all begs the question, anyway. I do not believe that life begins at conception. I believe life begins when an organism is able to survive on its own. Before that, it's just another tumor, surviving off it's host.

tp

TP:

The average # of embryos put back in a procedure is 4. The number of infertile women in the US is over 5 million. That would take care of 20 million frozen embryos. If we expanded this to the rest of the world the concept of "excess" embryos becomes moot.

Life beginning at conception is not a belief. It is the scientific reality. A unique DNA is created upon conception that defines that human being until natural death. (See analogy below)

Navillus:

This is not a Christian issue. It is an issue for all mankind. I could easily say that you are stating Satanic Cult viewpoints as dismemberment and human sacrifice is what they are all about.

It is irrelevant when the soul enters the embryo. By destroying the soul or preventing it from entering is the same result.

It is never acceptable to sacrifice a life for others, especially when the one sacrificed has no ability to defend themselves.

Let me make an analogy:

Half the world (Group A) believes 1 + 1 = 2.

The other half (Group B) believes 1 + 1 = 3.

Group A is correct. Group B got their beliefs from their parents and others interested economically, and politically to promote the falsehood.

Group B maligns Group A by accusing them of using religion and politics to get their conclusion. Or they will say that it is a matter of opinion.

The amazing part is that if Group B is large enough, they can actually keep the lie going for a very long time.

Navillus/TP:

Maybe you could help me here. In my analogy, if you were in Group A, how would you convince Group B of the truth?

I think the problem here is that there is no truth to be convinced of.

The discrepancies stem from a few major differences in belief. The primary one is the difference between Moral Relativism and Moral Absolutism.

I am a moral relativist and you are a moral absolutist. I can't speak for TP on this point. A moral absolutist beleives that there are universal right and wrongs and things that are always wrong no matter what, because their truth and morality are all objective. As such there is no convincing of an absolutist on any moral/ethic/truth point because they have already decided and as such are unchangeable.

Conversely relativists have a degree of flexibility becuase there ARE variable to consider in this viewpoint.

The other major stick here is differing beliefs about what constitutes life, conception, souls etc. Again, when you are dealing in absolutes there is no changing it, so the same challenges apply.

Since your beleifs are unchangeable due to the affliction of absolutism, your only course of action is to try to convince us of your position, since we have a flexibility to change position without collapsing our belief system.

In order for you to convince me of your positon several things wouldhave to happen (and for the record using math examples is challenging as an analogy because math is a concrete system with clear answers which this discussion is not (although I appreciate that you see it that way).

OK, so for me to believe what you believe, I would have to be convinced that there is such a thing as a soul in the first place. Then you would need to establish when this soul enters the body, if it is at the moment of fertilization then that's fine, you would just need to show that somehow.

Then if you somehow managed to do both of those, then you would have to convince me that morality IS somehow absolute and that the needs of the many did not outweigh the needs of the few or the one and in fact it was the reverse.

The challenge is for you in this situation is to convince a person who does not beleive in the existence of a soul, who also does not beleive that cells or even an embryo constitues a baby or a person and who, even if it did feels that the sacrifice is worth it because of the ultimate benefit to humanity.

Ultimately, I don't think either of us can convince the other to switch positions because we are not playing the same game with the same rules.

I think a more interesting discussion would be how people who are exposed to the same information and data, who we assume to be of similar intelligence and thoughtfulness could draw such starkly different conclusions so as to be diametrically opposed to each other. I think if you could figure that one out, you would win the Nobel Prize.

Ummm.. yeah... what Navillus said ;-)

And as to your Group A, Group B thing, Jane.... I AM in group A, trying to figure out how to explain the 'truth' to Group B (except knowing that there is no capital T truth)....

tp

Navillus:

A thoughtful answer which I respect, but also one to which I undertake all challenges.

After all, the Nobel Prize is a tad more impressive than the 2006 Weblog Award Finalist.

I am pretty good at mathematical proofs. How hard can it be to prove that morality is absolute? Give me some time though.

I'm looking forward to it. And even if it is not successful than I think it will be enjoyable and entertaining and may be enlightening to some who may be on the fence on way or the other.

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