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Topic of the Week -- STEM CELL RESEARCH - SPK Live
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May 2011
Steve K
Tue, Jul. 6th, 2004 11:36 am
Topic of the Week -- STEM CELL RESEARCH

OK, I've decided to start something new. As I said a couple weeks back, I got interested in LJ because I wanted to learn more about people and communicate ideas. In the interests of generating discussion, I'm going to try hitting on a "hot topic" about once a week and would appreciate people's thoughts. Obviously, I expect comments to be cordial and not derogatory. We will appreciate divergent viewpoints - in fact, that's exactly what I want! I hope everyone on the flist will contribute, and I welcome outside posters as well (would appreciate initials so I can have an idea who you are, but anonymous postings are also fine). I think it will be fascinating to hear people's points of view and discuss accordingly. So, here we go...


What do people think about this topic? Do you think it holds valuable scientific promise, or that it extinguishes potential life? Maybe both at once? Are there viable alternatives, or is this clearly the best option for possibly helping millions of people? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Comments and questions welcome.



Steve K
Tue, Jul. 6th, 2004 09:41 am (UTC)
spk1121's opinion

First off, let me state unequivocally that I take a pro-life stance (aka "anti-abortion"). I view the fusion of sperm and egg as the beginning of life, both from a biological science perspective and from a religious/spiritual angle. People don't "appear" on their birthdays, they have to start somewhere and that's where it begins.

When it comes to stem cell research, things can seem a bit more complicated. I can tell you right now that I am ardently opposed to the idea of "harvesting" eggs or paying people in order to create viable lines. Some people have talked about extra embryos found at fertility clinics. Frankly, I think we should work on perfecting that science to the point where we don't have to use a dozen specimens in the hopes that one will actually implant itself in the uterus. When we can make that a more exact science, there won't be a need to harvest dozens of fertilized eggs and freeze them somewhere.

That being said, they are currently out there at this point. Should we utilize them since they already exist? The argument is that it is better to devote them to scientific research than simply throw them away. I see this as a fallacy, though. Back in the day, white landowners argued that releasing all the black slaves would ruin the economy and society. Nazi scientists performed experiments on political dissidents and Jews during WW2. Rome ruined its middle class with taxes and indentured servitude in the name of the emperor. Using people (yes, people) has often been justified in the name of progress or at least the maintenance of the status quo.

I applaud President Bush for trying to navigate this delicate issue with compromise. I would probably propose the following, somewhat reluctantly. Get fertility clinics to *donate* enough specimens to allow for the creation of the number of viable lines that President Bush promised, along with maybe a half dozen "failsafe" lines. At that point, there would be NO more harvesting of embryos for scientific purposes. I acquate this with the 1807 law that Congress passed to prohibit the importation of slaves. Slavery still existed in this country, and would for years afterward, but no "new blood" would be brought in. If the death of these few individual embryos can help the larger population while stopping the needless sacrifice of additional unborn lives, I would probably advocate such a course.

So, I am opposed to using stem cells for research on principle. However, I understand political reality and the need for American science to stay current with the rest of the world. Once a certain number of viable lines are established, there should be no more taking of human life. It is my hope that people will have a greater appreciation for the miracle of life and God's creative powers when they see stem cells in action.

Left in a basket on the steps of the FBI
Tue, Jul. 6th, 2004 11:44 am (UTC)

I think stem cell research falls into the territory of Playing God, and I think the possible negatives far outweigh the positives. Not to mention the fact that it involves sacrificing unborn children just to improve the quality of life for people whose time has come.

I feel about the same on cloning. Too much potential for disaster, misuse, and general using of powers for evil instead of good.

Tue, Jul. 6th, 2004 02:03 pm (UTC)

I'm against human cloning, period--no ifs, ands, or buts. Stem cell research is a bit more complicated. Mike Reagan wrote a column last week that pretty much expresses the same feelings I have. While I don't take everything he says as gospel, he and I are on the same page. You can read it here.

It sounds like embryonic stem cell research is more likely to help things like Parkinson's and Type I Diabetes than Alzheimer's.

My only question is, if the embryos are just going to be "discarded" anyway, would it be better to use them for research that could help people?

Steve K
Mon, Jul. 12th, 2004 10:06 am (UTC)
Search for solution

I would argue that the ends do not justify the means. Since I view an embryo as being alive, murder is not justifable either way. As I said above, I think we should perfect the process to the point where multiple eggs are not necessary for fertilization. The implication is that death for research is more noble than the alternative. I view it as death to the innocents either way.

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