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Embryonic Stem Cells

Science Embryonic Stem Cells

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#1 Rhea

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Posted 21 July 2003 - 04:41 AM

I've been wanting to write this post for a long time, but I haven't had the time till this weekend, so here goes. There is scientific information in this post, so if your eyes glaze over at this stuff, you might want to skip to the bottom.

Therapeutic Uses of Embryonic Stem Cells:
  • Cure for diseases involving irreversible cell damage including Parkinson's, some heart conditions, diabetes, and leukemia.

  • Spinal cord injuries

  • Patients who have had chemotherapy (which destroys bone marrow stem cells)

  • Alzheimer's

  • Stroke

  • Muscular Dystrophy

  • Various genetic diseases
What are stem cells?

An embryonic stem cell is pluripotenet, meaning that it has the ability to give grow into any other cell type - they are there throughout the life of an organism but remain undifferentiated until they're given the signal to turn into something specific - skin, heart, bone, etc.

Embryonic stem cells are derived from fetal tissue (before it implants itself in the uterus)
Embryonic germ cells are derived from 5 to 10 week old fetuses

Why don't we use adult stem cells?
  • Difficult to isolate, identify and purify

  • Way too few of them

  • Do not replicate indefinitely in a culture vs. embryonic stem cells

  • Mostly not pluripotent (although research suggest we may figure out how to coax them into being so down the road)
Notice: Here's where the politics come in

President Bush approved research only in existing embryonic stem cell lines. According to the NIH,  78 such lines exist:
  • BresaGyn Inc., Athens, Georgia - 4

  • CyThera Inc., San Diego, CA - 9

  • EsCell International, Melbourne, Australia - 6

  • Geron Corporation, Menlo Park, CA - 7

  • Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden - 19

  • Karolinksa Institute, Stockholm, Sweden - 6

  • Maria Biotech Co. Ltd. - Maria Infertility Hospital Medical Institute, Seoul, South Korea - 3

  • MizMedi Hospital - Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea - 1

  • National Centre for  Biological Sciences/Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bangalore, India - 7

  • Pochon CHA University, Seoul, Korea - 2

  • Reliance Life Sciences, Mumbai, India - 7

  • Technion University, Haifa, Israel - 4

  • University of California, San Francisco - 2

  • Wisconsin Alumi Research Foundation, Madison Wisconsin - 5
If you read the list carefully, you'll note that's a grand total of only 14 sites wordwide with embryonic stem cell lines, and many of them are private, with absolutely no obligation to share ANYTHING.

Some of those lines could get stale or crash. 4 of the 6 lines created by one U.S. biotech firm are turning unstable.

There's a backlog of requests dating years.

Now go back and look at the laundry list of uses for embryonic stem cells, and you'll see what Bush, in trying to placate both sides, has done - he's created a desperate situation with no possible resolution for the people who have been given hope of disease cures using embryonic stem cells. In otherwords, with all the good intentions in the world, he's created a situtation analagous to Prohibition, only more so - people's LIVES hang in the balance.

The next few years will be interesting ones, indeed. He's condemned many people to death. Many others will languish while on waiting lists. Many researchers will be up the creek without a paddle, unable to get access to stem cells for their research.  

And I have no doubt that a brisk illegal business in embryonic stem cells has already sprung up.

And we were worried about the ethics of using aborted fetuses for embryonic stem cell research. Worry more about the desperate plight Bush's actions have caused for both researchers and patients who might be cured by embryonic stem cell research.
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When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. - RAH


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH

#2 Nikcara

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Posted 21 July 2003 - 06:09 AM

Well, the other thing is there are other countries out there that DO do stem cell research.  Which is a very good thing, IMO.  I wish we did it here, too.

I also heard from one of my teachers (who I find to be a credible source, but others may not, so I should probably go look this up in writing) that when Christopher Reeves tried to use therapy involving stem cells in England the US government told him that if he did he could no longer come back to America.  Which I have many things to say on, but mostly involve me ranting about how idiotic I think that is.
We have fourty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse  -- Rudyard Kipling

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#3 Nikcara

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Posted 21 July 2003 - 06:46 AM

here's a link about what I posted before.  
http://www.postwrite...es/good0303.htm

Quote

it (the bill) would also turn patients into criminals if they imported such medical therapy from abroad.

Don't you feel safer already? Just imagine some latter-day patients arriving back in the country. Not only would they have to remove their shoes and have their carry-ons checked for dirty bombs, they'd have their bodies checked for dirty cures. If their Alzheimer's or Parkinson's treatment, their heart disease or spinal cord cure came from cloning research, they'd be liable for a $1 million fine and 10 years in jail.

We have fourty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse  -- Rudyard Kipling

Develop compassion for your enemies, that is genuine compassion.  Limited compassion cannot produce this altruism.  -- H. H. the Dalai Lama

#4 tennyson

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Posted 21 July 2003 - 07:22 AM

There was an article in Popular Science this month about the discovery of useable stem cells in freshly disgarded baby teeth and the possibility that they coul;d be used for research in place of fetal stem cells. It would definitely make all the flap over existing stem cell reseach moot if it pansout.
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#5 Rhea

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Posted 21 July 2003 - 12:57 PM

Tennyson, the problem is that the research in this area, and in the areas involving other forms of adult stem cells is in the early stages - not usable yet. They're also looking at using stem cells from dead bodies. Also brand new.

The embryonic stem cell research is much farther down the road.
The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.
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When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. - RAH


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH

#6 Uncle Sid

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Posted 21 July 2003 - 01:22 PM

tennyson, on Jul 20 2003, 03:15 PM, said:

There was an article in Popular Science this month about the discovery of useable stem cells in freshly disgarded baby teeth and the possibility that they coul;d be used for research in place of fetal stem cells. It would definitely make all the flap over existing stem cell reseach moot if it pansout.
I certainly hope something like this pans out, because even while I know that stem cell research has great potential benefits, embryonic stem cell research in current forms is either completely unethical or would be so difficult to monitor it's practices that it would be too difficult to keep it ethical.  

Unfortunately, President Bush did make a poor decision due to politics.  This line of research should have been banned outright, so there would be incentives for researchers in this country to start working on ethical techniques, instead of wasting time and money on this.
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. - Jack Handey

#7 Shalamar

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Posted 21 July 2003 - 03:31 PM

There is an article in the August 2003 Readers Digest . It is titled 'Cure Me If You Can... A Plea for Stem Cell Research' by Michael Kinsley.

Unfortunately it is on available on line. He has Parkinson's and his views on stem cell research are well written.

#8 Rhea

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Posted 22 July 2003 - 01:36 AM

Unfortunately, there is far more likely to be a black market for embryonic stem cells since the President's legislation passed than there ever was before.  By cutting off embryonic stem cell research,  he's made that more of a possibility than before.

And I think it's pretty damn cruel to tell people that if they leave the US and have stem cell implants anywhere else, that they'll be treated as criminals when they return.  :glare:
The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.
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When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. - RAH


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH

#9 Uncle Sid

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Posted 22 July 2003 - 10:53 AM

While I would personally understand why people might do such a thing as go overseas and have such a procedure done, it doesn't change the fact that it's unethical.  And as far as I can tell, just because other countries think it's ethical doesn't mean we go and change our ethics to match theirs instead of having control over our own.  If that was the rule then we'd be taking our ethical cues from Charles Taylor and his merry band of soldiers in drag.  

If people went overseas and got an illegal procedure done and came back here where it was illegal, then they should be treated as criminals, because they are criminals.  If some people knocked off a bank or somehow managed to mug someone to get the extra money for a procedure, would we let them off the hook because they did it to get themselves cured?  Of course not.  Oh yes, I wouldn't send them to a maximum security prison with Joey Razorblades, but I wouldn't let them back in.

I want people cured as much as anyone else, and indeed, I'd like stem cell research to go forward, but I don't want sick people having the choice of this sort of procedure or pain and suffering foisted upon them.  A number of people who are at the mercy of their affliction are going to be pushed into unethical treatments that they might not consider otherwise.  That sort of thing already happens, and something like this, frankly, used to only the the subject of horror movies.  I certainly don't want my only hope of being cured of whtever terminal disease is coming my way to be based on something I might have to refuse because I cannot abide it's ethics.  That would be true suffering.

I'm willing to accept that the research done so far could save lives, just like certain experiments in cold water immersion on unwilling subjects saves lives today, even though neither should have never gotten started.  But I am completely opposed to a line of research that, now that the public is fully aware of it, will continue it's unethical practices.  Take what you like from past research in making something useful that is not unethical...where the donors have a real choice in the matter...and then it will have my support.  Until then, though, it needs to be banned.  

Let other people do what they like, but if I have any control over it, my conscience will not allow me to do anything but oppose it.
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#10 Han

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Posted 22 July 2003 - 11:36 AM

Why is it unethical? By what standards is it measured as unethical? To me, embryonic stem cells are just a class of cells. Its not a human being, not even a fetus. Its just raw materials that have the potential to become human.

Until that's realized, you're (United States) throwing away a valuable science that could lead to so many cures for diseases.

And its not fair for people who do not believe that it is unethical to be labelled as criminals. Where is it written that using embryonic stem cells is unethical?

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#11 Uncle Sid

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Posted 22 July 2003 - 12:52 PM

Quote

Why is it unethical? By what standards is it measured as unethical? To me, embryonic stem cells are just a class of cells. Its not a human being, not even a fetus. Its just raw materials that have the potential to become human.

That would be your opinion, and no doubt many other people's.  Of course it either ignores or sidesteps how you go about getting these "raw materials".  Needless to say, if it's going to becoe an industry, then it needs an industrial means of providing raw materials.  When you get coal that way, we call it strip mining, when you talk about embryonic stem cells, well....

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Until that's realized, you're (United States) throwing away a valuable science that could lead to so many cures for diseases.

I guaruntee you that science would move ten times faster with the ability to, at will, take whatever it requires without ethical considerations.  Avoid all those pesky obstacles.  The problem is that in the future you have a lot of advances and not the wit to use them responsibly.  If, by curing one disease, you excerbate a disease of society, then you've made nothing at all better.

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Where is it written that using embryonic stem cells is unethical?

Where is it written that anything is unethical? It's your conscience and what you think is the right thing to do.  Obviously that varies by individual, but if you both look at history and look into the future the best you can, you can at least make an informed decision.  

If humanity is going to advance, it's got to stop thinking hand to mouth and start thinking abot the implications of what it's doing and, if necessary, foregoing the next neat thing until we has the ability to deal with it's effects properly.  I'd think everyone would agree that that it would be a hundred times better if we could figure out how to use adult stem cells, but we just want what's faster and promising NOW.  "It'll take too long to come up with a better alternative," people say, as if those same people would ever accept that as an excuse for continuing to allow heavy pollution or an oil dominated economy.
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#12 Echo

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Posted 22 July 2003 - 01:14 PM

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When you get coal that way, we call it strip mining, when you talk about embryonic stem cells, well....

You make it sound like people are going to be kidnapped from their beds in the middle of the night so that evil scientists can forcibly harvest embryonic stem cells for their experiments.

Don't get me wrong, I think there needs to be rules about how stem cells are collected. Just like there are rules about organ donorship. In a lot of people's minds (not my own, but I understand the arguments), taking a person's internal organs once they have died to help cure another person's disease is wrong. The solution to this problem was not to forbid scientists from doing research on human organ transplant, but to institute rules designed to protect but not prevent. These form the basis of organ donorship programs.

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I'd think everyone would agree that that it would be a hundred times better if we could figure out how to use adult stem cells, but we just want what's faster and promising NOW. "It'll take too long to come up with a better alternative," people say

Fair point. Yes, it would be much better if we could use adult stem cells. However, permitting research into embryonic stem cells does not preclude the option of researching adult stem cells. If I may continue with the organ donor analogy, the ability to transplant human organs to cure life-threatening diseases exists and is very effective. However, a lot of research is still continuing into other avenues, mechanical organ replacements and the like, which don't require a human donor. No doubt if a safe and reliable alternative to organ donorship could be found that did away with the need to take human organs, such an alternative would be embraced wholeheartedly. In the same way, any cures that involve the use of stem cells could easily be replaced by cures using adult stem cells should the technology become availale, cells that could be provided by a much larger portion of the population.

They're my thoughts anyway.
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#13 Han

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Posted 22 July 2003 - 01:25 PM

If there was a way to obtain the stem cells safely and through volunteers, then would it become ethical? For example, blood donors. What is the difference between asking people to give blood and asking people to give embryonic stem cells? Another example is organ donation. As long as people voluntarily give these things so that people can use them, what could be so wrong with it?

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I guaruntee you that science would move ten times faster with the ability to, at will, take whatever it requires without ethical considerations. Avoid all those pesky obstacles. The problem is that in the future you have a lot of advances and not the wit to use them responsibly. If, by curing one disease, you excerbate a disease of society, then you've made nothing at all better.

How is curing society causing disease to society? I agree that ethics must be taken into consideration but how ethical is it to deny people who are dying and diseased treatment on the basis of religion (which I think, is where the primary arguments against using embryonic stem cells are based)?

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Where is it written that anything is unethical? It's your conscience and what you think is the right thing to do. Obviously that varies by individual, but if you both look at history and look into the future the best you can, you can at least make an informed decision.

That's one of my point: ethical/unethical varies with the individual. So why is it ok to discriminate against people who do not think that its unethical? IE: Call them criminals and deny them the right to return home?
What's next? Branding countries that research embryonic stem cells as criminals and smacking sanctions against them?

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If humanity is going to advance, it's got to stop thinking hand to mouth and start thinking abot the implications of what it's doing and, if necessary, foregoing the next neat thing until we has the ability to deal with it's effects properly. I'd think everyone would agree that that it would be a hundred times better if we could figure out how to use adult stem cells, but we just want what's faster and promising NOW. "It'll take too long to come up with a better alternative," people say, as if those same people would ever accept that as an excuse for continuing to allow heavy pollution or an oil dominated economy.

This argument can also be used to support embryonic stem cells. Rewording your words: If humanity is going to advance, its got to stop thinking reactionarily and start thinking about the implications of what it's doing and cost of not doing based on objectivity and rational evidence.

There's nothing wrong with pursuing more than one line of research at the same time. Adult stem cells, embryonic, whatever works and works best, I'm all for. As long as the people who need the treatments get them as soon as possible, rather than wait for all the "ethical" arguments to pan out. These people don't have the luxury of ethical debate.

I'm not trying to be offensive but I'm fed up by all the ethical questions people have when people are suffering. If this technology could be the cure for so much suffering, then it is wrong to impede its progress.

And if it must be determined if embryonic stem cells are sentient in anyway (and thus, unethical to use) then in my opinion, this must be examined as soon as possible and a judgement be made so as to clear the way for progress. But this determination must be made based on facts and science, not religious considerations. Everytime religion gets involved, science suffers.

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Edited by Hankuang, 22 July 2003 - 01:56 PM.

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#14 Nikcara

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Posted 22 July 2003 - 02:05 PM

Quote

If people went overseas and got an illegal procedure done and came back here where it was illegal, then they should be treated as criminals, because they are criminals.

I disagree.  I could go over to another country (that allows such things) and sell child pornography, and when I come back I would face no criminal charges, because I broke no laws in the country I was in and US laws apply in the US (this does not make me think it's moral though, however I do not find stem cell use to be immoral.  So why not punish something that so many people find replusive and punish something that there is so much ambiguity about?)
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#15 Rhea

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Posted 23 July 2003 - 01:28 AM

Perhaps because not everyone finds it as morally repugnant as you do? Perhaps because some of you are imposing your standards on the rest of us?

Perhaps because, if you found yourself with an otherwise incurable disease and stem cells offered you hope for a cure where none other exists, you might be a little pissed off to find that you were told to go off in a corner and die because the only treatment available is offensive to some people's ethics??

Rather than just yelling, let me use Parkinsin's as an example. Parkinson's is the second most common neurodegenerative disease -  the symptoms are resting tremors, gait dysfunction and postural instability - in otherwords, you shake and you can't walk.  Other symptoms may include akinesia (getting stuck - literally unable to force your body to make the next movement, take the next step), bradyphrenia (slowness of all thought processes), delusions, dementia,  dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), incontinence,  rigidity, spasms and other symptoms.

The only treatments available involve taking drugs to slow the tremors - drugs which often have nasty side effects (how would you like to go through life feeling sleepy and goofy all the time?) or extreme surgery, where the part of your brain causing the tremors is interfered with.

Biologists at Jefferson Medical College have shown for the first time in the laboratory that they can convert some human neural stem cells to brain cells that can produce dopamine, the brain chemical missing in Parkinson's disease.  They showed that mouse neural stem cells placed in rats with Parkinson's disease could develop into brain cells that produced tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the enzyme needed to make dopamine. Dopamine is the substance that Parkinson's patients are lacking. This means that we are very close to a treatment (or even cure) for Parkinson's.

1.5 million Americans are affected, more persons than those suffering from multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy combined.  You would condemn these people to death because the form of treatment available to them offends your ethics?

The idea of letting millions of people die just so a group of people can feel comfortable about the means of treatment offends MY ethics.

Edited by Rhea, 23 July 2003 - 01:46 AM.

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When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. - RAH


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH

#16 Jid

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Posted 23 July 2003 - 04:23 AM

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Biologists at Jefferson Medical College have shown for the first time in the laboratory that they can convert some human neural stem cells to brain cells that can produce dopamine, the brain chemical missing in Parkinson's disease.

Good for them.  I hope they keep on it.

First, I assure you that even with Bush's law, stem cell research will continue.  Multinational drug corporations are amazing things.  Amazing if flawed.  [insert drug company rant here]

As for people being told they'd be treated like criminals if they sought such treatment.... well, for me the question of my health versus my country is an easy choice, but.... I suppose there are patriots everywhere.

I'll say no more here, for at the moment I have roughly two functioning neurons to rub together, and I refuse to get into a debate like this while I'm still "cold" ;)
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#17 Uncle Sid

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Posted 23 July 2003 - 12:22 PM

I think some people are a little unclear as to how one gets their hands on embryonic stem cells and what they are,

You get embryonic stem cells from embryos, as in unborn children.  Granted this can come about through miscarriages, and such, a miscarriage is not precisely a situation that can guaruntee results, and indeed, considering that in many cases, the mother would have wanted the child, there's no sure means of guarunteeing a supply of such.  Thus, the best means of obtaining such in a manner as to ensure supply is through voluntarily terminated pregnancies.  The timing is known, there is obviously no connection to the "material" and the embryos are generally healthy.  

And yes, before anyone bothers me with this, I know full well that you don't have to have an abortion or miscarriage for every single application.  On the other hand, stem cell "lines" can fail, and newer material is always desirable for variety and etc.  New "material" will have to obtained.  Isn't that the point of opposition to the President's allowing of research to continue only with the existing lines?

Okay on with the show:

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The idea of letting millions of people die just so a group of people can feel comfortable about the means of treatment offends MY ethics.

Huh?  Embryonic Stem Cells or not, you and I and every one of those millions of people is going to die.  No one is letting anyone die.  And somehow I doubt that this process is going to guaruntee that everyone dies peacefully in their sleep at age 101 in any event.  So, I fail to see your point.  


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So why not punish something that so many people find replusive and punish something that there is so much ambiguity about?

The child pornography was a bad example to use, because it assumes that I agree with all the laws of this country as written, and that's incorrect.  Child pornographers who operae overseas should be jailed or exiled as well.  In fact, the only reason I'd suggest exile for patients is because putting them in jail would be silly.  Let them live with people who feel the same way.  Kiddie porn producers, however, are hardly victims of anything and can sit in jail for all I care.  


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How is curing society causing disease to society? I agree that ethics must be taken into consideration but how ethical is it to deny people who are dying and diseased treatment on the basis of religion (which I think, is where the primary arguments against using embryonic stem cells are based)?

Of course, I'm not going to pretend that there is not a religious component to the abortion debate, because that would be silly.  On the other hand, there are a number of religion-neutral reasons to not allow it as well.  I could argue either one.  However, since many people, myself included, consider religious reasons to be valid ones, then we must act on our consciences the same as anyone else.  

As far as a societal disease goes, what I am talking about is not a virus, but an attitude towards life and certain scientific advances.  I suppose you've heard the phrase "the cure is worse than the disease".  If humanity is allowed to develop an attitude towards itself that regards itself as "raw materials" then humanity will exploit itself as a raw material.  And that could be bad enough, in theory, even if we do it with our own consent, but it's even worse for those who do not at least get the nominal choice.  

Our own attitudes are what make possible certain horrors that we have come to see.  Could any dictatorship of our times have come to power without the backing of not only people's fists, but also general acceptance of philosophies that degrade them?  Certainly these people see it after the cloud descends upon then, but what about before?  Were Marxists really so surprised that brutal dictatorships would be formed under the red banner when all the manifestoes of Communism call for is class *warfare*?  Were the people under the fascist regimes surprised that they lived in police states when that is precisely what anyone who could read a newspaper or a book could see happening?  

We look at things that seem to make our lives better and those who we love a lot less critically than we would at things half a world or half a century away.  Saving lives and helping people is a good thing, but if you just make things worse for the people who are coming later on, you're missing most of the point.  You make make one person more comfortable now but if you contribute to the exploitation of millions later on how have you helped anyone?  

Of course, people now are no less important than people in the future, and that is why I want to continue research, ethically.  Ban this particular line and move the money to something else that can help us that everyone can be proud of, today and tomorrow.  Yes, we can do both things at the same time, but who is going to want to reasearch something harder and something that is further behind if we're supposedly so tantalizingly close to results from the unethical route?  That compromise, is no compromise at all.
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#18 Han

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Posted 23 July 2003 - 12:50 PM

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You get embryonic stem cells from embryos, as in unborn children.

This is where I think the whole argument hinges. Embryos are NOT unborn children. At least, not the beginning stages. Only when they start to develop into the recognizable form and the brain develops does it become an unborn child. Any time before that are just proto-cells.

I believe that sentience, which is the only measure of human life, begins with the brain. When the brain begins to form, you have a human being. Anything before that is not.

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#19 Uncle Sid

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Posted 23 July 2003 - 02:00 PM

Well of course, this is where the crux of the debate is and why it's tied so closely to abortion.

For the record:

Embyros ARE unborn children.

...and there is no scientific proof that they are anything else.  Just because you don't recognize them as human merely means that you choose not to define them that way.  However, they are genetically distinct, and therefore individual.  Further, unless there is a complication that causes death of the embryo, no embryo concieved of by two humans that I've ever heard of has ever developed into anything but a human.  If you could convince me that there would be a serious chance of them naturally developing into say...a fish or even a chimpanzee, you might have a point.  

Alright, I think we all know the points about abortion, so there's no point rehashing them further here.  Obviously people have different opinions, but I've never felt bound to act for myself or speak for myself on the basis of someone else's beliefs.  

You're precisely right, in one regard, though.  This does tend to hinge on what you see as "human", and of course, that is why it is such a big deal to me and why I feel it is so potentally dangerous to society.  We've all seen what happens when people feel free to redefine things as "subhuman" or "nonhuman".
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. - Jack Handey

#20 Rhea

Rhea

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Posted 23 July 2003 - 02:02 PM

Uncle Sid, what I said was that there are people with diseases for which stem cells most assuredly hold the answer to a cure.

The applications of stem cells to something like paralysis, for instance, is way down the road. However, for other uses, such as Parkinson's, a real-life application of the stem cell research is within sight.

Bush would not only condemn those people to a long, lingering death (which Parkinson's is), but would also make those people who might go outside the US to seek such treatment into criminals.

And why? A 10-week old embryo is 2 to 3 inches long - it doesn't have a fully formed brain - in fact, it's pretty much an accumulation of cells with the beginnings of some structure. People who romanticize what an embryo looks like at this stage have never seen one (and yes, I have, a number of times when I was in nursing school). Women have been known (and I speak from experience here) to miscarry without ever seeing anything that seems remotely human in the process (but then a 2-inch embryo isn't very large).

It's not a baby, not a person, it's only a *potential* person.  

And frankly, women are going to continue to have abortions anyway, legal or not. I'd rather see young women have legal abortions than go to back-alley butchers and die, like they did when I was a girl. And if they're going to do it anyway, why shouldn't some constructive use be made of the embryos?

I would rather see those embryos save life than go in the trash can. If this makes me a terrible person with questionable ethics, then so be it.
The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.
- Robert A. Heinlein

When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. - RAH


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH



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