Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Human Hens?

Cathy Ruse, a Senior Fellow of Legal studies at the Family Research Council, puts abortion-choice feminists on the defensive today in her Washington Times column, "Human Hens and Stem Cells." While we rightly focus on the moral issue of destroying human life with ESCR, Ruse offers specifics about the effects the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (S. 5) would have on women themselves.

Ruse points out that only a small fraction of the so-called "leftover" embryos would ever have any chance of actually being made available for research and that this fact has severe repercussions. "Only 2.8% of the estimated 400,000 frozen embryos have been designated by their parents for use in research ... this small fraction could only produce 275 new embryonic stem cell lines at most." Because the industry would require millions of embryos, Ruse calls this bill...
a farce: [it] is not about getting tax funding for several dozen stem cell lines; it's about laying the groundwork for cloning human embryos for research, the only way the biotech industry can get a virtually unlimited supply of embryos.

[the bill] is a deceptive bait-and-switch campaign to get big biotech into the taxpayers' pockets and to lay the groundwork for massive cloning of human embryos.
In fact, researchers don't really know how many eggs would be needed to establish even a single stem cell line. The 2004 case in South Korea exposed the fraudulent claims of a scientist there who failed to create a single line after obtaining 2,221 eggs. The demand inherent in attempting to manufacture the millions of embryos needed would inevitably lead to the exploitation of young women -- examples of which are already available and serve to expose the dangerous nature of the practice toward those women.
  • Advanced Cell Technology has already admitted to paying young women $4000 for their eggs
  • Ads in California and Massachusetts college papers offer $5000/surgery
The risks associated with ovarian stimulation and extraction and Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome include respiratory distress, kidney failure, ovarian torsion and can lead to infertility, blood clots, stroke, heart attack and even death.

In other words, ESCR is not just morally unacceptable for the destruction of human life inherent in its practice, it is also morally unacceptable for the insidious danger it poses to the women who would be given incentive to support it.

Meanwhile Senators Norm Coleman (MN) and Johnny Isakson (GA) have offered alternative legislation (S. 30) that purports to:
    (1) intensify research that may result in improved understanding of or treatments for diseases and other adverse health conditions; and

    (2) promote the derivation of pluripotent stem cell lines without the creation of human embryos for research purposes and without the destruction or discarding of, or risk of injury to, a human embryo or embryos other than those that are naturally dead.
where "naturally dead" is defined as:
having naturally and irreversibly lost the capacity for integrated cellular division, growth, and differentiation that is characteristic of an organism, even if some cells of the former organism may be alive in a disorganized state.
Though I am unqualified (and therefore reluctant) to attempt to decipher the political-speak implications of that definition, it does seem that S. 30 could possibly offer and acceptable alternative to S. 5. Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia and chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, claims that the alternate bill...
includes a proposal to study the feasibility of banking amniotic and placental stem cells, modeled on the banking of bone marrow and cord blood stem cells that have saved the lives of patients with dozens of conditions. S. 30 also funds research in new techniques for deriving embryonic or embryonic-like stem cells without harming embryos
and "urge[s] support for that legislation as 'medical progress that we can all live with.'"

The jury is still out on whether or not there is any hope for success in "deriving embryonic or embryonic-like stem cells without harming embryos." But in the mean time, let me be clear. Though the peripheral issues Cathy Ruse exposes should carry weight with feminist pro-abortionists, they are not morally equivalent to defending the core issue -- the human personhood of the embryos researchers seek to destroy. That is the primary argument against ESCR. And that is why S.30 appears to be a morally superior piece of legislation.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Though I do not moderate comments, I reserve the right to delete any comment that I deem inappropriate. You don't have to agree with me, but I don't tolerate abusive or objectionable language of any kind.