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Embryonic Stem Cells

Science Embryonic Stem Cells

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#21 Han

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Posted 23 July 2003 - 02:21 PM

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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. 

Agreed. Let us agree to disagree on this point then.

This being the case, that the question of whether embryonic cells are human are not is still unresolved and all viewpoints being valid until proven wrong, I think you would agree then that discriminating people on the basis of their beliefs is wrong.

Thus, the law forbidding people to undergo stem cell treatment is discriminatory and illegal.

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Edited by Hankuang, 23 July 2003 - 02:22 PM.

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#22 Shalamar

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Posted 23 July 2003 - 02:37 PM

Uncle Sid, the embryonic stem cells they are speaking of uteliaing, in the Readers Digest article, come from fertility clinics. Extra fertilized eggs, that will never be used. It is routine procedure for those clinics to create multiple fertilized eggs but actually implant very few. The extras are sitting frozen, awaiting disposal.

Why can not those extras, that are going to be thrown away anyway, be put to a use that might save lives. They will not be grown into fetuses, but will be used at the stage they are currently at, about a week into dividing, IIRC.

#23 Uncle Sid

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Posted 23 July 2003 - 02:52 PM

I have no particular romantic interest in what an embryo looks like, and I could frankly care less.  I'm not one of those people carrying around signs with little fetus pictures on them.  That's sentimental claptrap.  Far too many people care about silly distinctions like that, on both sides.  A human is a human whether it looks like a unicellar organism (temporarily) or if it's just about to be delivered.  The only reason we consider it to be a *potential* anything is because the other side, in turn, romanticizes what humans *should* look like.  If it's tiny and icky looking, well it must not be human.  Let's forget that we all looked like at that one point.  

And this isn't even about brain function.  If a person is brain dead, indeed, we would consider them dead, but what if it was possible that the person, so injured, was capable of regenerating their brain if left on a machine long enough?  Would we be so quick to pull the plug, even if the resulting personality was not the same as the person's who was injured?  

Of course, humans cannot regenerate their brains after having died, but one class of humans does grow a brain for the first time.  They may be brainless, but they are still human, and more than that, they are not simply potential humans, they are humans with potential, as much potential as anyone else would have.  

Some people are dealt really bad cards in life.  I've certainly been lucky in many ways, so far, but I know full well that other people haven't.  Still, taking the way even the potential for life from one person is not an acceptable means for redressing the inbalances in another person's life.  The argument is the same for abortions as it is for stem cell research with embryos.  

I know it's difficult to stand there and put up a stop sign when you feel that you could be helping people out that you can see everyday.  But it's not cold and it's not cynical, it's what has to be done.  As much as you want to help people who are in pain here and now, you still have to think about everyone else, today and tomorrow.
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#24 Uncle Sid

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Posted 23 July 2003 - 02:53 PM

Shalamar, on Jul 22 2003, 10:30 PM, said:

Uncle Sid, the embryonic stem cells they are speaking of uteliaing, in the Readers Digest article, come from fertility clinics. Extra fertilized eggs, that will never be used. It is routine procedure for those clinics to create multiple fertilized eggs but actually implant very few. The extras are sitting frozen, awaiting disposal.

Why can not those extras, that are going to be thrown away anyway, be put to a use that might save lives. They will not be grown into fetuses, but will be used at the stage they are currently at, about a week into dividing, IIRC.
Don't get me started on fertility clinics.
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#25 Uncle Sid

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Posted 23 July 2003 - 02:58 PM

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This being the case, that the question of whether embryonic cells are human are not is still unresolved and all viewpoints being valid until proven wrong, I think you would agree then that discriminating people on the basis of their beliefs is wrong.

Thus, the law forbidding people to undergo stem cell treatment is discriminatory and illegal.

People can believe whatever they want, it's when they act on it that they need to be stopped.  You can hold whatever beliefs you choose, but if you or anyone else of a similar mindset is going to act on it, then I need to act on it as well.  

If no one ever performed research on embryonic stem cells or whatever, there wouldn't need to be laws, no matter what anyone believed.  Now that it's happening, action has been taken and those who oppose it are bound to practice what they preach and attempt to prevent it.
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

#26 Han

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Posted 23 July 2003 - 03:32 PM

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And this isn't even about brain function.  If a person is brain dead, indeed, we would consider them dead, but what if it was possible that the person, so injured, was capable of regenerating their brain if left on a machine long enough?  Would we be so quick to pull the plug, even if the resulting personality was not the same as the person's who was injured? 

Of course, humans cannot regenerate their brains after having died, but one class of humans does grow a brain for the first time.  They may be brainless, but they are still human, and more than that, they are not simply potential humans, they are humans with potential, as much potential as anyone else would have. 

You're right about this not just being about brain function. It's about sentience. From a strictly logical position, as long as there is a brain present, there is the potential for life. Then they have sentience. Embryonic stem cells are not brains nor are they brain cells. They are more close to any other cells of your body. Can you argue that a skin cell is a human being? What about a hair follicle? A heart? An arm? No? If these are not human, then what is? These all contain DNA that are unique.

If a human being was born or through some accident lost all their limbs and only had a torso, would they still be human? Why? Its because they can think and they can reason. They have a brain and they have sentience.

How then can embryonic cells, which are cells (albeit more complex than normal cells; but less complex than an organ) are classed as a human being?

This is not about classifying people as different levels of humanness, its about determine where the line is of what is human and what is not. The idea of "human-ness" beginning at conception is too vague.

If something is defined as human simply because it has the potential to become human, then sperm and eggs should also be human. And every woman who has a period and every man who has a wet dream are committing murder.


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Some people are dealt really bad cards in life.  I've certainly been lucky in many ways, so far, but I know full well that other people haven't.  Still, taking the way even the potential for life from one person is not an acceptable means for redressing the inbalances in another person's life.  The argument is the same for abortions as it is for stem cell research with embryos. 

Leaving aside the argument of what is defined as a person, what right do healthy people who are not faced with these problems have to define what is acceptable to people who are afflicted? This question affects both people with diseases and people who need abortions. Its easy to stand on the sideline and say that it is wrong but in the end, the people on the sidelines are not the ones who suffer the consequences.

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I know it's difficult to stand there and put up a stop sign when you feel that you could be helping people out that you can see everyday.  But it's not cold and it's not cynical, it's what has to be done.  As much as you want to help people who are in pain here and now, you still have to think about everyone else, today and tomorrow.

I think its irresponsible for people (not you in particular, people in general) not to make a stand for people alive now and rather make a stand for imaginary people (people who are not alive yet). The argument that "it is a slippery slope" or that "it will be the undoing of society" are not enough to justify not making the stand. It is more responsible to recognize that "yes, it is a difficult question, but we will deal with it after we save the people now and worry about the morality later".

I feel that humanity is not as stupid as people generally think. Yes, we've made mistakes but we're learning. If we turn away from this because we are afraid of what might happen or because we think its wrong (based on religion; and not based on science) then we are not fulfilling our potential. Hundreds of years ago, people thought the world was flat and to think otherwise was heresy and invited persecution. Now, people refuse to pursue a science that could cure so much diseases, and those who do are branded criminals.

To not face difficult questions or make difficult choices is not what it means to be human.

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#27 Han

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Posted 23 July 2003 - 04:03 PM

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People can believe whatever they want, it's when they act on it that they need to be stopped.  You can hold whatever beliefs you choose, but if you or anyone else of a similar mindset is going to act on it, then I need to act on it as well. 

If people believed that there was nothing wrong with it, that it is NOT killing a human being and that these treatments are completely ethical, then they should have right to undergo these treatments.

If people believe that it IS wrong, then they have the right NOT to undergo these treatments.

But people who think it is wrong have NO RIGHT to dictate or force their beliefs onto people who believe otherwise. Thus, people who want to undergo these treatments should be allowed without recriminations.

To call these people criminals and penalize them is to impose your beliefs on people.

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Edited by Hankuang, 23 July 2003 - 04:15 PM.

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#28 ArmourMe

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Posted 23 July 2003 - 04:51 PM

I'm curious whether anyone has seen good info on why umbilical cord blood stem cells aren't being used rather than aborted fetus tissue?

Certianly there's a LOT of children born in this country - that's a LOT of stem cells!

I birthed both of my sons at home - but if there was a good system for collecting cord blood after a birth, I would have donated it.

#29 Rhea

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 01:58 AM

Shalamar, on Jul 22 2003, 08:30 PM, said:

Uncle Sid, the embryonic stem cells they are speaking of uteliaing, in the Readers Digest article, come from fertility clinics. Extra fertilized eggs, that will never be used. It is routine procedure for those clinics to create multiple fertilized eggs but actually implant very few. The extras are sitting frozen, awaiting disposal.

Why can not those extras, that are going to be thrown away anyway, be put to a use that might save lives. They will not be grown into fetuses, but will be used at the stage they are currently at, about a week into dividing, IIRC.
Correct. The optimum stage at which to get them is when they're still an undifferentiated mass of cells (in the womb, very early on before they attached to the mother's womb). Embryonic stem cells come from this stage.

Embryonic germ cells come from 5 to 10-week embryos.
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#30 Rhea

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 02:07 AM

Hankuang, on Jul 22 2003, 09:56 PM, said:

Quote

People can believe whatever they want, it's when they act on it that they need to be stopped.  You can hold whatever beliefs you choose, but if you or anyone else of a similar mindset is going to act on it, then I need to act on it as well. 

If people believed that there was nothing wrong with it, that it is NOT killing a human being and that these treatments are completely ethical, then they should have right to undergo these treatments.

If people believe that it IS wrong, then they have the right NOT to undergo these treatments.

But people who think it is wrong have NO RIGHT to dictate or force their beliefs onto people who believe otherwise. Thus, people who want to undergo these treatments should be allowed without recriminations.

To call these people criminals and penalize them is to impose your beliefs on people.

--
Han
And that is the crux of the matter. And I agree with you 100%.

I believe abortion would be wrong for me personally. It would not be MY choice of options.  But I will defend to the death every woman's right to decide what to do with her own body (and slice it however you may, it *is* a woman's body all the action takes place in). It's always been very easy for men to make sweeping generalizations about abortion for one simple reason - a man can walk away clean from an unwanted pregnancy. I've seen tragic consequences of such pregnancies, particularly when abortion was illegal.

I think in vitro fertilization is a waste of perfectly good money, personally. But I also defend a couple's right to choose that method of having a baby - for some people, having a child of their own flesh seems to be a really strong biological imperative (and it probably is - the urge to procreate is as strong in us as any species).

Having said that, I see no reason not to make use of cells that would otherwise be discarded and use them for some good.

I will defend the right of people who disagree with this NOT to avail themselves of any of these things - no one should be forced to undergo abortion if they believe it immoral, no one should have to participate in artifical insemination or in vitro fertilization if they believe it is wrong.

And no one should have to have their lives saved by embryonic stem cells if they believe the use of such cells is immoral.

What I resent is the implication that those of you who feel this way have the right to make those choices for the rest of us. I absolutely believe that neither the government nor those of you who would not make those choices for yourselves have the right to tell the rest of us what to do. And why do you get to choose for us?

Edited by Rhea, 24 July 2003 - 02:07 AM.

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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