Hi! My name is Margaret and I’m John’s significantly younger sister. He invited me to join the discussion so I’ll give it a try. Please be kind to me as I’m not of the same political persuasion as my dear brother and probably most of his faithful readers. Here goes:
John, first let me start with what we agree on. 1) We share an aversion to abortion and eugenic tampering, and 2) we agree that President Bush should wield his veto pen on any compassionately pork-laden, grossly earmarked bills that come his way.
Okay, now we split company. You’ve already stated that you will never understand anyone’s opposition to something so inherently reasonable as embryonic stem cell research, so I’m not sure it’s worth bothering to state a few objections, but you invited me here and what else are sisters for, anyway?
There is a vast difference between the discovery of how its genes are made (Watson and Crick) and the destruction of a human being (potential, at least) for the cause of medical research. Just because attacks against Watson and Crick’s work were undeserved, does not have anything to do with the ethical validity of embryonic stem cell research. Such experimentation should be judged on its own merits, not lumped in with other good stuff shot down by “the church and religious conservatives.”
And while it may be true that we’re on the brink of amazing breakthroughs, what I’ve read indicates that the most successful and exciting of those results are coming from research with adult stem cells, the use of which raises no moral or ethical concerns.
Many adult stem cells have the potential to transform themselves into practically all other cell types, or revert to being stem cells with greater reproductive capacity. According to one article I read, “Embryonic stem cells have not yet been used for even one therapy, while adult stem cells have already been successfully used in numerous patients, including for cardiac infarction (death of some of the heart tissue).”
The fact that the embryos in question are “donated by individuals with their written informed consent and without any financial or other inducements” gives me no comfort since the only individual whose (potential) life is being snuffed out has no way of registering his or her objection to the process. And I’m not sure we want to open the door to parents deciding which of their children’s lives they’re willing to sacrifice for the greater good of medical research. (I’ve got an 18-year old I could be induced to volunteer!)
The fact is, anyone who wants to can use his or her own money to fund research on any available embryos in the world. The question is: why should my taxes go to pay for something which I (and many others) find morally and ethically repugnant?