July 28th, 2006

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12:22 pm - on children, clones and cell research...

Mav: Age 6
Six years old, still clockin' da hos.
A few random things about reproduction that have been on my mind lately.

I have several friends who are expecting kids in the next year. I was hanging out with one and her husband a couple days ago, when a neighbor came by to congratulate her and asked her the obligatory question. "Are you having a boy or girl or do you want to be surprised?" This always strikes me as an incredibly silly question. Is this really a surprise. I mean, there are basically only two reasonable choices. I mean, think I can say with 100% accuracy that I can narrow what they're having down to about two choices. A surprise would be if she gave birth to a monkey or something. "oh my god, Mrs. Smith, you've given birth to a 2007 Benz. Congratulations!" That's what you call a surprise. These days, it seems that most of my friends who have kids find out what they are having ahead of time. It just seems easier to prepare. In fact, I know at least a couple of women who had named their kids 4-5 months before they born.

Last week, President Dubya vetoed a stem cell research bill. I wonder where people stand on that. Since my readership tends pretty far towards the liberal, I can kinda guess where most of you fall, but I'm asking nonetheless. I'm interested in knowing where people feel about stem cell research who are liberal and especially on the conservative views. Where do you stand on abortion? Does embryonic research count as abortion? At its essence, no one is really "pregnant" at the time the embryos are harvested. I guess this harkens into abortion rights. I don't think even the staunchest pro-choice advocates are in favor of abortion in like the 35th week. I know, contrary to what I tend to experience in my life, that pro-life believers are actually just under half of the population (as are pro-choice, there are a few percents of undecideds), but I have no idea where the pro/anti-embryonic research is. So I am curious as to who believes what.

Now me, I'm way far out there. Not only am I in favor of stem cell research. I'm actually pretty ok with the idea of human cloning. Dubya's rationale for vetoing the bill was that he feels it is wrong to sacrifice one human life for another. Now, I'm actually going to leave science aside for a moment and point out that I actually respect his moral decision there. I don't agree with it. But I'm understanding of it. But in my case, I figure fuck human life. If I had the means and the wherewithal, I'd be all about farming out MaveriClones to use as replacement parts for myself. If someone tells me that they can kill a dozen people (babies or not) and suddenly that research will make it possible to cure multiple schlerosis, I'm not sure I really have a problem with that. I mean, I'm not exactly advocating it, but I see the appeal. And don't people force their kids to give siblings bone marrow and kidney transplants and stuff like that all the time. I mean, I'll grant that the donating kid generally survives, where the embryo wouldn't, but I don't think that your life is any more your property and not your parents than your kidney. So if you are anti-embryonic stem cell research, where do you stand on having a one year old donate bone marrow to his 6 year old leukemic sister or something?

Now going back to science, where does life begin? No one has problems with not fertalizing every egg. Some religions have problems with birthcontrol. The law has a problem with abortion after a certain point. But embryonic research shouldn't really be abortion because, as I pointed out before. No one is really pregnant at that point. And moving from there to cloning. Why do people have a problem with that? I'm looking for all kinds of answers here. I want to hear from catholics, jews, muslims, atheists, wiccans, whatever. Is human cloming wrong? Why? What if I don't want a spare part body, is it wrong to clone myself and raise me as a son? Why or why not?

Anyway, and onto more serious matters. Jammy Jam is nearly upon us. I need to do some last minute shopping but things are coming along nicely. I hope to see everyone there, and of course, my lingerie shopping offer is still open.

(40 comments | Leave a comment)

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[User Picture]From: jeremiahblatz Date: July 28th, 2006 - 04:38 pm (Link)
What this world needs is more 8th trimester abortions.

I think that the only real reasons you could rationally oppose the stem cell bill are that:
1) You don't understand it
2) You think that science is bad

The bill allowed research on embryos that weren't going to any good use anyway. They certainly weren't going to be used to make babies.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: July 28th, 2006 - 04:41 pm (Link)
well, the rationale is that a single celled embryo that is doing nothing still has a soul and shouldn't be destroyed. I'm personally of the opinion that only negro embryos have soul so you should be able to harvest all the caucassian embryos you want. But whatever.

My biggest problem is that if someone believes that, then they shouldn't be eating...well I was going to say meat, but really, anything that isn't synthetic, including vegatables.
From: wooble Date: July 29th, 2006 - 12:23 am (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: July 31st, 2006 - 01:57 am (Link)
From: blk Date: July 28th, 2006 - 08:11 pm (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: July 31st, 2006 - 02:00 am (Link)
[User Picture]From: suicideking Date: July 28th, 2006 - 05:18 pm (Link)
I am all for scientific study. Banning any kind of scientific experamentation only weakens the world as a whole. I can see the arguement against harvesting them from aborted fetuses, but that seems like a fringe issue to the whole ball of wax. And I am probably more anti-abortion than pro.

[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: July 28th, 2006 - 06:17 pm (Link)
I think the big issue here is really that you're right. Abortion is entirely a fringe issue to stem-cell research, THe connection that is being drawn is artificial and its being done to strengthen the position of the pro-lifers. If its wrong to do embryonic research because it "kills babies," then isn't it wrong to kill babies for personal reasons too?

I'm not trying to paint pro-lifers as manipulative. Or well, I am but no more so than pro-choicers. If the shoe were on the other foot and abortion were illegal and stem cell research legal, I am quite certain that the powerbrokers of the pro-choice movement would make the argument that "if its ok, to harvest frozen embryos for science, why can't we harvest implanted ones."

basically, people suck. all of them.
From: ex_hidden_tr761 Date: July 28th, 2006 - 05:30 pm (Link)
short response: we trade iraqi lives for american lives every day.

i'm pro-choice and for stem-cell research. it would take way too long to explain all sorts of opinions and rational.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: July 28th, 2006 - 06:19 pm (Link)
I was actually going out of my way not to draw the comparisson to the war hypocrisy argument because so many people in the media have already done it and I sort of wanted to go in a new direction (hence my, hell yeah, lets clone me some replacement part bodies thing). But, yes, I do think its hypocritcal as well.
[User Picture]From: bogosort Date: July 28th, 2006 - 05:59 pm (Link)
Not that I've formed enough of an impression on the topic to really decide on whether I'm in favor or against it without reading the specifics of what's allowed, but here's a bit of anti-stem cell funding material to consider(and the anti-stem cell stuff is probably less of what you'll see based on your membership).

While stem cell research does hold the promise to save many lives, the scientists are also playing the politics game in order to get more funding and fame for their research. Not do discount scientists for their work, but it's important to note they have biases like everyone else. Because of this, events like the Korean scientists who lied about their advances in stem cell research occur. With this level of pressure to produce results, scientists will often cross the lines into what's morally wrong in order to make advances. It's easy to look at the end state and find a morally acceptable spot, but the path there is filled with temptations for humans on the path to get there. Harvesting embryos, creating people for organs and then zapping their brains, implanting these embryos into women without their knowledge, growing farms of fetuses and killing all of the non-suitable ones. None of those may make sense scientifically, but I'm sure the researchers can come up with many ways to do worse that I haven't considered. Many do say that the embroys that are going to be used for such research are going to be destroyed anyways, so that's not so much of an issue. Still, keeping funding of research public and having lots of open inquiry is probably the best way of us getting the benefits of the advances while not falling into a bad moral state.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: July 28th, 2006 - 06:12 pm (Link)
actually, you are right. I am very much looking for opinions contrary to mine, so thank you.

But what your info didn't get into was my point of "who says its immoral?" What is the rational for saying that its wrong to create mindless clones to harvest for organs, for instance? Its the same problem with the abortion argument. Pro-lifers tend to give the "of course its wrong to kill innocent life" argument. Whereas pro-choicers give the "it's not really life" argument. My response is "what defines life, and who says its wrong to kill it?"

Anyway, the other big problem with what you said is it isn't causal. Yes I agree that scientists are human and therefore subject to the same selfishness that the rest of us are. But it doesn't follow that just because someone might do immoral research that no one should be able to do it at all. Someone might use a gun to rob a bank. Somone might get behind the wheel of a car while drunk. But I am still in favor of people having the rights to carry guns and drive cars.
From: bogosort Date: July 28th, 2006 - 06:58 pm (Link)
From: zyrain Date: July 28th, 2006 - 07:35 pm (Link)
From: bogosort Date: July 29th, 2006 - 03:24 pm (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: July 31st, 2006 - 02:11 am (Link)
From: zyrain Date: July 31st, 2006 - 02:53 pm (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: July 31st, 2006 - 02:07 am (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: July 31st, 2006 - 02:06 am (Link)
From: ludimagist Date: July 28th, 2006 - 06:56 pm (Link)
If I had the means and the wherewithal, I'd be all about farming out MaveriClones to use as replacement parts for myself.

This comes up quite a bit in Robert Heinlein
's books.

And, to check in, I am pro choice and pro research.

Pro choice seems obvious to me, people have the rights to their own bodies. I think abortion is horrible and I know people who have had them and were pretty traumatized by them, but in the circumstances they were in that was the lesser evil. What seems to be the problem is that there is an assumption among certain pro lifers that abortion is taken lightly by those who go through it. From what I've learned it's an agonizing choice and a last resort.

But there is more at play than that, what it comes down to also is sexual freedom. Ali G uncovered a bit about this in some of his fine investigative journalism work. Placing limits on birth control (whatever form) places more limitations on extramarital heterosexual relations. And that's an even bigger subject.

We seem to think alike in the pro research side of things

[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: July 31st, 2006 - 02:19 am (Link)
to be fair, there are some people who do take it lightly, but I tend to believe that it should be their choice to feel that way as well. But you're right, for the most part, among the women I know who have had them, its an agonizing choice there too.
[User Picture]From: marmal8 Date: July 28th, 2006 - 07:07 pm (Link)
These are neither arguments for nor against:

1. I think it's really easy for people to make decisions about things that don't directly affect them. The decision might well change if it was "hey, can we have YOUR unused embryos" the same way that people's opinions on abortion and homosexuality change when it affects people close to them.

2. I think this represents a tremendous money-making opportunity for broke college students.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: July 31st, 2006 - 02:23 am (Link)
1. I dunno that not being in the situation means you can't make reasonable decisions. I've never been a slave, but I'm pretty sure I'm against it. I've neer been a prostitute, but I'm pretty sure I'm for it.

2. If you encouraged the creation of the embryos in natural means, I'm sure you'd have no shortage of signups.
From: marmal8 Date: July 31st, 2006 - 03:22 am (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: July 31st, 2006 - 12:15 pm (Link)
From: marmal8 Date: July 31st, 2006 - 03:05 pm (Link)
[User Picture]From: lacechenault Date: July 28th, 2006 - 07:16 pm (Link)
I am pro-choice and pro stem cell research.

Pro-choice because it's her body - her choice. I would only have an abortion under extreme circumstances (like, if I was raped), but that's my choice. I do think life begins when the sperm meets the egg. But I don't think an embryo has a "right to life". I think much like driving - life is not a right - it is a privilege. I know, I know it sounds harsh….

And stem cell research could save many many people who are already living.

Now – with late term abortions – I think that is just sick. Why couldn’t she make up her mind earlier in the pregnancy? Gross. I don’t see how anyone could do that - - unless giving birth would kill her or the baby anyway. But then where do you draw the line? The line is always blurred anyway, so with laws like that I do think it should be all legal or all illegal – one way or the other.

….And I don’t like someone else’s morals making our laws…

Holding back science holds us back. With Cloning I think that should really be done one step at a time.....it's only scares me because of all of the outer limits/twighlight zone type things I've watched.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: July 31st, 2006 - 02:25 am (Link)
it's only scares me because of all of the outer limits/twighlight zone type things I've watched.

Yeah, but if you're going to point to science fiction, you also have to remember that really awesome movie starring me and carmen electra where I had sex with all the clones of her.

oh wait... that might have been a dream...
[User Picture]From: blk Date: July 28th, 2006 - 08:14 pm (Link)
While the whole pro-choice/pro-abortion argument isn't the point of your article, I think, be careful about mixing the two different parts to the issue together, because really, they aren't that closely related. I'm morally pro-life, in that I don't like the idea of any abortion, anytime, but I'm politically pro-choice, in that I absolutely don't think the government should regulate it.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: July 31st, 2006 - 02:27 am (Link)
sure. I admit, that I glanced over the differences here. But as I explained elsewhere, it was mostly because I didn't really want to get into the pro-abortion vs. pro-choice argument. I ended up using the more common term.
[User Picture]From: cuddlyd00m Date: July 28th, 2006 - 10:42 pm (Link)
Well, first and foremost, no embryonic stem cell (ESC) research has been banned in the U.S., contrary to what people would like you to believe. What has happened is that research on stem cells not on a list of currently established cell lines cannot receive federal funding. That's all.

To say that the research was banned is equivalent to saying that the U.S. Army banned smoking when they stopped including cigarettes in C rations. Just because they're not going to pay for it doesn't mean they're not allowing it.

The real question is: why aren't any drug companies funding such research? They can smell money a mile away. If there were money to be made (and a cure for Parkinson's would be a licence to print money), they'd be funding it themselves. So why aren't they?

Well, there has been NO progress yet on ANY therapy involving ESC's. None. At all. Despite what the researchers who are working on them want you to believe. This is the dirty little secret of the cellular biotechnology world.

You want to know what they have created for the most part? Teratomas. Direct translation: Monster Tumors. These are cancerous bodies containing a multiplicity of differentiated cell types. So, you get a tumor with bone, teeth and hair. They are, in fact, one of the most disturbing things I've seen in my entire life.

Let's assume, though, that they get past that point. Well, you're going to have the same rejection issues you have with any transplant. Your very sick patient is going to end up on immunosuppressive drugs for a long time, and will likely catch pneumonia. Hope it doesn't kill him.

Now, adult stem cell (ASC) research is moving along quite well. There are no issues over funding, and no question of destroying human life to generate them. Best of all, you get cells from the patient. No question of rejection, because they're the patient's own cells. There are a number of different sources for ASC's - one of the most promising happens to be fat. Adipose-derived stem cells are one of the by-products of liposuction. They can differentiate into nerve, bone, muscle, connective tissue cells, and several more that I can't think of at the moment. Implant them with the right growth factors to drive differentiation along the pathway you want, include biodegradable scaffolding for them to grow on, and you have a fixed patient.

So, how far along are things with ASC's? They're working on the scaffolds. The cells are great. We know the signalling molecules to use in many, many cases. It's just a question of delivery now. Oh, and drug companies are lining up to get in on the research.

So, given all that, what's my opinion on ESC research, and the "ban"? I think you can tell.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: July 31st, 2006 - 02:47 am (Link)
ah... a different argument. First lets go with the specifics of the veto. Yes, I know. I've addressed that elsewhere.

Now onto your new issues. I find your anology between stem-cells funding ban and cigarrette provisions kinda weak, but I'll support it. That said, I absolutely believe that cigarettes should be included in rations. If I'm sitting on a fence line waiting for days to shoot someone before they shoot me, then I damn sure want a smoke on me. And if I got placed on said fence line by the government, then yes, its the least you could do to give me a carton of Marlboros. That's all I'm saying. You don't want yours, that's fine. Pass that over. Also, if I'm going to be deployed for a while, it'd be nice if Uncle Sam could hook a brother up with a copy of Penthouse or two. At least an issue of Juggs.

Now, the converse arguments to your actual points. One the fact that ESC research hasn't yielded results. We could debate this, but I don't really care because it doesn't matter. The fact that results haven't been reached is irrelevant. We don't have a working AIDS vaccine either. But I still think we should work on one.

Argument 2. Drug companies aren't interested in ESC because they have ASC. That's fine. But I'd argue its all the more reason for federal funding. Same reason I am in favor of the NEA, Social Security and Welfare. We could reduce all of this to a fiscal argument of big government vs. little government, but that wouldn't matter either. Because at the end of the day, George Bush didn't veto the bill as a matter of fiscal policy. If he had, I'd actually support his decision as it wouldn't be arguable. It would be inline with his established little government platform that he ran on 6 years ago. He didn't veto the bill because ASC was working and ESC wasn't. I'd actually understand that as well (obviously, from my constant arguing of alternate sides of various issues, my agreeing with something has nothing to do with my understanding it).

No, in his own words, he vetoed the bill to save innocent lives. That was a religious argument due to what you are quite correct in pointing out was a fiscal issue. And that's what I take exception to. He stood up on a stage in front of a dozen frozen embryo babies and argued that he was vetoing the bill because if ESC were allowed to exist then those children couldn't. And that was patently false, and that's what bothered me.

That said, I'm not even complaining about that. I'm more asking for people's rationales as to why stem cell research is wrong or right. Your answer is effectively "its wrong, because its expensive and ineffective" which, while not my point, I do consider more or less a reasonable answer.

Sorry to write so much in response, but with everyone else, I basically answered bits and pieces to different people. Your arguments were more unique, so there was a lot more to respond to.
From: cuddlyd00m Date: July 31st, 2006 - 03:24 am (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: July 31st, 2006 - 12:08 pm (Link)
[User Picture]From: hardkoreferrari Date: July 28th, 2006 - 10:54 pm (Link)
For abortion, I lean towards pro-choice... as long as abortion is not your choice of birth control. If you're too stupid to grab a condom or take a pill once a day (or wear a patch), you shouldn't be having sex. If a woman is raped or something, and got pregnant, of course I'd be for abortion... she didn't choose to have sex at that point.

Moving on... I am pro-stem cell research... I am pro-scientific research. A lot of our scientific discoveries came from people doing things that others thought were "wrong", "stupid", "ridiculous", etc. etc. So I am for any scientific research (not just stem cell research) that will find cures for all the nasty diseases we have.

The sad thing is, there's more money in TREATING a disease than CURING it.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: July 31st, 2006 - 02:48 am (Link)
thanx for answering. My responses to all your points can be found in earlier answeres above.
[User Picture]From: tmaher Date: July 28th, 2006 - 11:57 pm (Link)
Is this really a surprise. I mean, there are basically only two reasonable choices. I mean, think I can say with 100% accuracy that I can narrow what they're having down to about two choices. A surprise would be if she gave birth to a monkey or something.

Well, maybe 99.9% or so. Last I checked, the rate of intersexed infants was something like 1:1000.

As for the stem cell thingy, as gay atheist-boy, I'm mostly fine with anything up to and including inducing pregnancy for the sole purpose of harvesting stem cells. Well, as long as the embryo is harvested sufficiently early. Where defining "early" is left as an exercise to the relevant biologists.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: July 31st, 2006 - 02:50 am (Link)
Well, maybe 99.9% or so. Last I checked, the rate of intersexed infants was something like 1:1000.

And if that happens, I'll accept that as a reasonable "surprise."
[User Picture]From: gendalia Date: July 29th, 2006 - 05:35 am (Link)
http://www.alysion.org/truelife/index.html is a very interesting read about the 'true right to life movement', at least, I thought so, and might be interesting in the 'where does life begin' debate.
I would wish to live in a society where abortion was unnecessary because everyone controlled their own fertility, and were rational in the process. Since I actually live in the real world, I would prefer the government stayed out of the issue, and let each and everyone one of us make the decisions that fit our life in this area. I would wish that no one would need to make the decision to have an abortion, but I also have friends for whom having an abortion was the only sanity keeping choice.
As for stem cell research, as long as we have embryos being destroyed with no benefits to the destruction, I see no reason they should not be used for research.
And I want spare parts. All of the spare parts I'll ever need.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: July 31st, 2006 - 02:54 am (Link)
As for stem cell research, as long as we have embryos being destroyed with no benefits to the destruction, I see no reason they should not be used for research.

agreed, but this goes more to cuddlyd00m's comments above. Bush didn't actually ban doing research on any of those destroyed stem cells. He banned the government giving funding to do anything with those embryos. And had he mentioned any of the reasons that cuddlyd00m did, I'd say that his policy was reasonable (while disagreeable). But given the rationale he gave "we can't do stem cell research because its destroying life" then its just foolishness.

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