Thanks to The Online University of Wikipedia, the Angry Czeck is now a certified expert in embryonic stem cell research. I earned a virtual degree in less than 20 minutes.
Ask me anything.
Just don’t preach. Or pontificate. Or become hysterical, because I hate noise and “embryonic stem cells research” tends to have a cacophonous effect on people. It drives otherwise clear-headed people nuts. They can’t hear their own thoughts for the shouting.
Before I teach you a lesson about stem cell research – a topic for which I suddenly find myself suitably qualified – let’s throw out a meaty statistic.
In the United States, 400,000 research-ready embryos sit in cold storage at various in-vitro fertility facilities.
Yep. These precious embryos for which so many Americans are willing to fall on the sword shiver in sub-zero temperatures, waiting to be either used by the donor (far more embryos are extracted than needed, and one wonders how many women elect to take the spares home), or to be “destroyed.”
One might argue that when it comes to embryonic stem cell research, we have a choice: destroy the embryo (which has no idea what’s coming) or put it to the use of mankind.
Were the arguments so simple. To some, even the idea of in-vitro fertilization is an affront to God’s Big Design, and to mention in-vitro only lends weight to the embryonic stem cell opposition. For those people, this argument is over.
For everyone else, especially those who have struggled mightily to bear children, the topic still sits restlessly on the table.
The Unitarian approach (“The good of the many outweigh the good of the few”) simply points out that not only would we be extrapolating something valuable from what was only going to be thrown away, the resulting medicine will be of far greater benefit to society than what any number of frozen embryos could ever provide. As Mr. Spock (and even Senator Orrin Hatch) might point it, it is only logical.
Logic hardly ever plays a starring role upon the social soapbox, however. You could counter – quite shrilly – that when the Nazi’s extrapolated the gold from their victims’ teeth, it was logical. Touché.
Wait! Not touché! The Nazi’s killed living, breathing, thinking human beings. In most countries, that’s called murder and is against the law. Where an embryo falls on humankind’s totem pole is a matter of perspective.
This is where the unsavory, poorly dressed and slightly smelly specter of Mr. Abortion interrupts what was once a fairly civilized debate.
Nobody likes Mr. Abortion, not even those who would proudly grant him a seat at the family supper table. He causes good-natured people to scream, and compels psychotics with an affinity for chemicals to make explosives. At the very least, Mr. Abortion is the guy at the party who makes all the guests shift nervously from one foot to another. I once met a woman who refused to eat a slice of my pizza for she disagreed with the beliefs of the company that made it. Such is the effect of Mr. Abortion.
Waxing philosophically, Mr. Abortion is first to ask: Where does life begin? The instant of conception? The 5th week, when the heart begins to beat? Or later, such as when brain function is evident? When does a cell become a citizen? Mr. Abortion wants to know.
Surely not while it sits inert inside a steel container, frozen in a bath of liquid nitrogen. Clearly its rights are being ignored.
Perhaps future discoveries will render this sticky point moot. Already, there is some promise in adult stem cells, which are derived from skin and umbilical cord blood. But, thanks to my new education, I understand that adult stem cells – unlike embryonic stem cells – are not pluripotent, meaning that the uses for adult stem cells are limited to the organs from which they are harvested. Supposedly, you drop an embryonic stem cell anywhere in the body. Presto! New pancreas.
irrevocably damaged any chance
of a Family Ties Reunion Show.
The scientific community promises that a whole host of diseases and ailments could be reversed and eliminated through embryonic stem cell research: Alzheimer’s, spine trauma, Parkinson, stroke damage, even birth defects detected from within the womb. Science would have us believe that embryonic stem cells are the panacea to achieving immortality.
Anyone who has had a family member afflicted with the above-mentioned conditions waits with bated breath. Nancy Reagan was a stem cell opponent before Alzheimer’s reduced her once-mighty husband to a vacant stare. My own views became clouded when my grandfather was diagnosed with Parkinson.
The Skilled Opponent always has a trump card, and in the case of stem cells, that card is, Where does it end? Hello, Mister Slippery Slope. Pardon my not shaking your hand, but you tend to throw me uncomfortably off-balance.
Flush with grim prognostications, Mr. Slipper Slope rubs his crystal balls and reveals a future peppered with designer babies, cloned relatives, and fetus farms. Perhaps even a day that death is cured. Death! Is that a bad thing? Mr. Slipper Slope is nodding.
One thing that has already achieved immortality, seemingly, is the division embryonic stem cell research has created. When Mr. Bush signed into law provisions that would make all but some stem cell lines unavailable to research, neither side was satisfied. If you’re going to terminate one embryo, you might as well terminate them all.
Now Mr. Obama has pleased the scientific community by once again opening up American research centers to fresh embryos – research Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom already publicly acknowledge. Who knows what the secretive Chinese, Koreans, and the Russians are mixing up. Were this a race to the moon, we would have already cured paralysis by now.
The slope is slippery. But the potential is too great to ignore, let alone too great for China to have all to itself. Mr. Abortion wants to know, “Should we federally fund more embryonic stem cell research?”
Four hundred thousand frozen embryos, slated for destruction (i.e. abortion) say, “Why not?”