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Playing God While Frankenstein Saves Lives

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It really seems as if every horrible aspect of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill can't receive enough enthusiastic backing from our lawmakers.

Ministers in the House of Commons voted in favour of animal-human hybrid embryos, of "savior siblings," declaring fathers obsolete, and retaining the 24-week limit on abortion.

I have grown very tired of hearing those in favor of this squalid embryo and stem-cell research say, "But it's going to save lives!" At what price are we going to "save lives?" What type of monster will be born while we're saving lives? This is an area of science where we dare not tread, a vindication of the maxim which states that because we can do something doesn't necessarily mean that we should do it. But of course, going to bed with the scientific community, which all governments do on a too-regular basis, meant that it was inevitable that this research would be given a thumbs-up.

With regard to "savior siblings", can you imagine the pain and the anguish you'd feel if you found out that the only reason you were born — the only reason you were allowed to exist — was to provide spare parts for your diseased brother or sister? There are going to be a lot of tortured souls in the future. We are in deep trouble when we stoop to the point where a person is looked at primarily as "spare parts."

Until recently, women seeking fertilization treatment would have to provide proof of a father's role in her child's upbringing. The law has now been changed to "supportive parenting." Which I guess means that if you can afford to buy the kid an Xbox and a copy of Grand Theft Auto, and simply pat him or her on the head every now and then, then you're good to go. Once again, in formally announcing their belief that fathers are not necessary, our lawmakers betray us and show that they have absolutely no insight as to the causes of social breakdown and disorder.

Finally, can anyone tell me why the hell it is so necessary for the limit on abortions to be 24 weeks, when premature babies are perfectly viable at 20 weeks and when the limit in most European countries is 12 weeks? As far as I can tell, the freedom to commit infanticide is still high on the feminist agenda. If you can tear a child of 24 weeks apart in the womb, what exactly is the difference in tearing a newborn baby limb-from-limb? They would both feel the most agonizing pain, but you can't hear the former scream.

This Embryology and Fertilisation Bill has to be the biggest blow to human respect and dignity since the Nazis' Third Reich (an appropriate comparison, methinks). And yet, sadly, it comes as very little surprise that every controversial aspect of it has passed. Our politicians prove once again that they are only too glad to sell their souls — and ours along with them — for profit and short-term gain with very long-term consequences.

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About Nightdragon

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Of course there are deep and serious ethical issues to be resolved with this area of medicine. But your sort of emotional rhetoric doesn’t really help any.

    Your “what kind of monster will be born…?” – presumably in reference to animal-human hybrid embryos – is a typical reaction. No-one is talking about allowing such hybrids to grow to term. Although the word ’embryo’ conjures up images of a recognizable tadpole-shaped object, those used in the lab aren’t much more than collections of a few dozen cells.

    “Declaring fathers obsolete” is also inflammatory. The simple fact is that there are family/childrearing situations in which the traditional father is absent. Whether fatherless families are a good thing or not is a separate debate. I think the Labour MP Emily Thornberry, in your linked article, expresses it well when she uses her personal experience to argue that you shouldn’t make a blanket judgment about the need for a father figure.

    As for “infanticide” and “tearing a baby limb from limb” – well, ’nuff said. The ethical debate on abortion will no doubt continue and we all have our own view. Personally, I’m not happy about abortion, but I’m never going to be in a position where I might need one and I believe it should be an option within reasonable limits.

    Where I do mostly agree with you is on the topic of ‘savior siblings’ – there’s something fundamentally creepy about the idea of parents conceiving a child solely for the purpose of harvesting donor tissue from it. But I would point out that even without the Bill, it’s perfectly possible for a child to be conceived naturally for that purpose – even if the chance of a genetic match is less.

  • Jonathan Scanlan

    Your rhetoric is an irrational explosion of hysteria.

    What type of monster will be born while we’re saving lives?

    Honestly, you say that as though the only things that are beautiful are the things we already know exist. It is equally probable that we might emerge with biproducts that are even more beautiful than before.

    Genes change and evolve all the time, and if we can use them in efforts to increase overall happiness, then why not?

  • Irene Wagner

    Did I hear someone say Savor Siblings? Now THAT sounds tasty. I’d eat ’em, just so long as they’re not genetically engineered Savor Siblings, and they haven’t been harvested more than a hundred miles from my home.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    It’s the next logical step in a long and glorious gastronomic tradition. For centuries we’ve munched without a qualm on such delicacies as gingerbread men, jelly babies, chicken à la king and so forth. Savor siblings… I think they’ll take the world by storm.

  • http://nitpickingnightdragon.blogspot.com Mark Edward Manning

    Question is, which company do we entrust to make and market these Savior Siblings? Nabisco? Or maybe Nestle?

    Dr. D., thanks for your tempered, rational and gentlemanly ripostes, as is your style. I enjoy the intelligent dialogue you provide.

    However, I feel that it isn’t at all judgmental to condemn the fatherless families ethos. Take away that vital male role model, which children of both genders need, and you get kids who join gangs, sell and take drugs, and more often than not kill people with guns or knives. We’ve seen this time and time again.

    Remember the fatherless boys who grew up during the ’40s? Most of them became knife-wielding teddy boys. At least then they knew more about right versus wrong than today’s wayward, fatherless youth. And at least then their fatherlessness was the result of sacrifice for the greater good, not a feminist/alternative lifestyle choice.

    It amazes me that you, a male yourself, seem not bothered by the ever-cheapened role in society we’re being forced by our Lords Temporal to accept. You may not be completely hacked off by it, but I sure am.

  • STM

    Definitely Nestle.

  • http://nitpickingnightdragon.blogspot.com Mark Edward Manning

    “[Y]ou say that as though the only things that are beautiful are the things we already know exist. It is equally probable that we might emerge with biproducts that are even more beautiful than before.”

    Jonathan, much as I would love to see dragons, unicorns and gryphons roaming and flying above the Earth in real life, I think these beautiful things — beautiful to me, anyway — are best left to the world of fairy-tales.

    I feel this kind of experimentation is messing with nature and that we will pay for it. This is a Pandora’s box and it should NOT be opened.

    Have you seen “Spiderman 2,” in which Dr. Otto’s trillium spins out of control, despite his assurances that it was a safe, controlled science experiment? This is a very similar situation, and unfortunately, this is not happening only on a celluloid.

  • http://nitpickingnightdragon.blogspot.com Mark Edward Manning

    Aw, damn, I was hoping for a vote for Nabisco!

  • Ruvy

    DD, et alia,

    Mr. Manning’s style may be inflammatory; like me, he pours gasoline on a fire.

    But the man is right on the money, and Irene Wagner’s morsel of a comment drives the point home with understated, but just as vicious, humor.

    From the looks of it, this bill that has passed is vile. Stem cell therapy, per se, is not wrong, but growing a kid as a spare parts factory is positively ghoulish.

    The Brits may have their fancy ass queen and royals, idiots who claim descent from King David when they think nobody is looking or listening, but they have turned their back of G-d, and all the bishops in Canterbury and all the “Hail Mary’s” and prayers read from the Common Book of Prayer will not save them.

    Jewish traditions warn that the messiah will arise in the day when there is “a generation with the face of a dog”. It didn’t say that what kind of dog, and a British bulldog has a dog’s face, just as much as a wolf.

  • howard

    It may be politically incorrect to say so, but the ultimate goal of the stem cell research, and similiar sciences, is extended life. Who will be the ones chosen for healthy vibrant bodies which will live for two or three hundred years? What kind of social regulations and perimeters will need to be established to protect the people privileged with extended life from those who are denied? Will they have a greater price to pay in the here-after?

  • pleasexcusetheinterruption

    It may be politically incorrect to say so, but the ultimate goal of the stem cell research, and similiar sciences, is extended life. Who will be the ones chosen for healthy vibrant bodies which will live for two or three hundred years? What kind of social regulations and perimeters will need to be established to protect the people privileged with extended life from those who are denied? Will they have a greater price to pay in the here-after?

    Delusional nut-case.

    The idea is people stop dying of cancer and failed kidneys and livers and who knows what else at the age of 10, 20, 40, 60. Stem cell research isn’t going to make anybody live past 100. Not without replacing every cell in their body it isn’t. Go back to the hole you came from.

  • pleasexcusetheinterruption

    Wait to you have a dying 10 year old girl in your arms. Are you going to be the one to tell her she has to die because God doesn’t want people to use their scientific knowledge?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    PETI – If ‘Howard’ is our old friend Howard Bowen, then his comment is pretty much par for the course.

    More coherent than usual, though.

    Mark – Most of the fatherless kids of the 40s turned into knife-wielding teddy boys? More hyperbole, I’m afraid. Yes, there is evidence that the lack of a father figure increases the chances of a kid turning out ‘bad’, but it’s unfair to say that most do or, as Ms Thornberry pointed out, to slam down some blanket piece of legislation which has the potential to cause as much pain as it hopes to prevent.

    Ruvy – How can you possibly know that the British royal family claims descent from King David if, as you say, they only do so when no-one’s looking?

    Her Maj can trace her genealogy back as far as some 5th- or 6th-century Saxon chieftains in northern Germany, but that’s it.

  • Ruvy

    Ruvy – How can you possibly know that the British royal family claims descent from King David if, as you say, they only do so when no-one’s looking?

    You missed a verb or two in my original statement, DD, – which reads as follows:

    The Brits may have their fancy ass queen and royals, idiots who claim descent from King David when they think nobody is looking or listening….

    Some of us read the tales these people believe about themselves, but these are things that very few people say out loud. One of the peace plans in the 1930’s here was designed with precisely these hidden claims in mind – it granted the British monarch status as King of Palestine, or some such malarkey.

    Being Emperor of the British Empire is one thing – being the king of a little island that shrinks in importance yearly is far less impressive. I suggest to you that these claims ridiculous as they are, are far more attractive to the “royals” now than they were.

    In any event, some of the provisions that the law that Mr. Manning condemns seem ghoulish. Stem cell therapy, in and of itself however, is a positive that should be pursued.

  • Cindy D

    My 2 cents:

    Embryonic stem cell research: What Dr.D said. Plus–It would be impossible for an embryo to come to term. (There is no room in the petri dish.) Also, this research is done with cells fertilized in vitro and are generally the donated after the in vitro fertilization procedure (the one where the woman is trying to become pregnant). They take many eggs at a time from the woman and fertilize them all. These embryos (blastocysts) would be destroyed or remain unused in storage.

  • Irene Wagner

    An incorrect assumption many people make in this debate — and I’m not saying you’re making it CindyD, I’m just adding mine for clarification –is that embryos are required for stem cell research. The stem cell research done with Adult or Non-Embryonic stem cells has led to the development of actual cures. Achievement in the Adult and Non-Embryonic Stem Cell regenerative therapy field doesn’t get as much attention as controversy over embryonic stem cell research does.

  • Ruvy

    An incorrect assumption many people make in this debate is that embryos are required for stem cell research.

    Thanks for pointing this out, Irene. It was the one detail that I left out of my comments on this article. There have been many excellent cures or possible cures from adult stem cell or non-embryonic stem cell research. There is no need to reach the level of evil in using embryos for stem cell research.

  • Baronius

    Good point, Irene. I don’t know what things are like in England (or Israel), but in the US, social conservatives are criticized as “anti-science”. I’ve never really understood what that’s supposed to mean, but I guess it refers to scepticism about evolution and opposition to embryonic experimentation.

  • Irene Wagner

    Ruvy: Yes, more than a few “medical” endeavors seem to be undertaken not out of necessity but out of a desire to see how far out one can push the limits. What they will find out eventually, to their horror, is that there aren’t any limits.

    Baronius: :) “Font-maker!” “Barista!” “Anti-scientist!”

    I’ve thought a lot about a tune by Dire Straits in the two threads I’ve visited today: “Look at dat, look at dat, dat ain’t woikin’. Dat’s the way to do it. I move the ‘fridgerator and the color TV.”

  • Ruvy

    Yes, more than a few “medical” endeavors seem to be undertaken not out of necessity but out of a desire to see how far out one can push the limits. What they will find out eventually, to their horror, is that there aren’t any limits.

    Horror, Irene? This is horror.

    From the article:

    This is not the first time that Dr. Pianka has expressed this point of view. At his own website he expressed similar views without going into the numbers or the method of doing away with his fellow man.

    Were he alone in holding them, it would be no great deal. Many scientists have many views, and many of them are strange indeed. But fellow scientists, people who are entrusted to provide us with enlightenment and understanding about the world around us, cheered enthusiastically. If they hold views similar to Pianka’s we are in deep trouble. What calls itself “western civilization” seems to be sliding down a slippery slope to barbarism.

    Mark’s article is proof of my assertions above. That’s why it doesn’t bother me when he pours fire on gasoline – like yours truly does….

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Ruvy – from your article: ‘What calls itself “western civilization” seems to be sliding down a slippery slope to barbarism.’

    Were it not that I have more respect than that for both your intellects, I’d suspect that you and Irene have been watching too many horror movies. Still, I think you’re wide of the mark in shining the sun’s rays through the magnifying glass onto medical science.

    Many people see echoes of the decline and fall of past great civilizations in our modern society, and think they might be indicators of what is to befall us, too.

    I’m thinking of things like violence as mass entertainment (the aforementioned horror movies, shoot-’em-up video games, Ultimate Fighting etc), professional sports raised to a par with politics in importance, our pantheon of celebrities, our increasingly unaccountable governments, and so forth.

    I’m not saying that I agree all those things are precursors of our downfall: just that nowhere in history do I find a parallel for the work being done in modern medical research.

    The ethical issues raised are complex and it is a huge mistake to see them in stark black and white, as Mark seems to do. And I don’t think he wrote this solely to pour oil on the fire. His suite of opinions – with one exception which I challenged him on recently – is very consistent and easy to assess.

  • Irene Wagner

    Dr. D., I rarely watch horror movies without the benefit of guidance by Tom Servo, Gypsy and Crow.

    Ruvy, you got me on that one. In experimenting with alternatives to the plague, Dr. Pianka might one day be surprised at how much he enjoys thinning the herd with hunting dogs and rifles, but it’s unlikely he’d be horrified. Maybe a Big Fella named Michael will teach him what terror is like.

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