Friday, December 7. 2012
I thought I had heard just about every argument surrounding using human embryos in research. The other day I realized, I hadn't.
A friend of mine, who was reading Why Catholicism Matters by Dr. William Donohue, pointed out a passage where Dr. Donohue refers to a piece by Leon Kass, an ethicist of Jewish descent, called "The Meaning of Life in the Laboratory." Dr. Kass delves into the status of the human embryo and whether or not a human embryo is simply a "ball of cells" or something more. He writes this disturbing, but relevant passage:
On the other hand, we would, I suppose, recoil even from the thought, let alone the practice--I apologize for forcing it upon the reader--of eating such embryos, should someone discover that they would provide a great delicacy, a “human caviar.” The human blastocyst would be protected by our taboo against cannibalism, which insists on the humanness of human flesh and does not permit us to treat even the flesh of the dead as if it were mere meat. The human embryo is not mere meat; it is not just stuff; it is not a “thing.” Because of its origin and because of its capacity, it commands a higher respect.Human caviar. A disgusting, repulsive and horrifying thought for pretty much everyone. Why? Because the human embryo is a human organism, just as we are, albeit very early in development.
Dr. Donohue, in commenting on Kass' analogy, states the obvious:
If the proponents of embryonic stem cell research were served human embryos as a delicacy, or human caviar, would they partake? If not, why not? Because of a natural aversion to cannibalism? Does that not concede the point made by the Catholic Church?Indeed.
Tuesday, November 27. 2012
I don't know how many times I have heard it. Well-meaning Catholics who say, "As a Catholic, I believe life begins at conception." I have decided that my mission in life is to correct this miscommunication because it is that very line that lets everyone who is not Catholic dismiss everything we have to say about stem cell research, cloning and reproductive technologies.
We Catholics do not "believe" life begins at conception, also called fertilization. We instead know that it does because it is a cold hard fact of nature that a new, distinct, human organism, identifiable by his or her unique DNA, is created at the completion of fertilization. That is not a belief. That is a fact.
Continue reading at Creative Minority>>
Monday, June 25. 2012
Do you remember Saturday Night Live's Pat, the androgynous character played by Julia Sweeney? Sketch after sketch, the cast of SNL ask a barrage of questions trying to figure out of Pat is a boy or a girl. The assumption is that Pat is either male or female and hilarity ensues when anyone tries catch a clue as to which Pat is. The segments were called "It's Pat!"
It is Pat. "It" is the pronoun used because, even though Pat is either a man or woman, we don't have any clue to which is correct.
It seems that, in the English language, this is the conventional pronoun usage for any human being that we know has a gender, we just don't know what that gender is...yet.
I am envisioning the endless "It's a girl!" balloons and "It's a boy!" napkins at my local party supply store. Lately, I am asking myself why not "She's a girl!" and "He's a boy!"?
This conventional language usage is as unfortunate as it is inaccurate, because "it" is a pronoun more commonly used used for things that are not human.
Which is why I think "it" is a pronoun that should not be applied to the unborn, either fetuses in their mother's womb or embryos in the IVF clinic. Even the earliest embryos are either male, having a Y chromosome, or female, lacking a Y chromosome. So why do we use "it" and "its" when we refer to them and their qualities? Why not use "he or she" and "his or hers"?
I have referred to an embryo as an "it" before, as have many other pro-lifers. I vow to strive to never do so again.
After all, embryos and fetuses are not "it"s. They are either a he or a she. Just because we don't know which does not mean they are any less human.
Friday, February 10. 2012
I am beginning to love TED videos. Here is one by Alexander Tsiaras, a mathematician who has used digital animation to visualize human development from conception to birth. He echoes what I have always believed. When I look at DNA or proteins, I see not random events, but Divine design so intricate that our simple constructs cannot come close to understanding the complexity.
Friday, September 16. 2011
Believe it or not there are people that want to patent human embryos. We all know that the cloning process produces cloned embryos and Michael West, founder and former president of Advanced Cell Technologies said the following in his book The Immortal Cell:
A cloned embryo of less than 14 days or perhaps one that hasn't developed a brain is not human, but merely cellular life that can be owned and patented.And with the U.S. Patent Office continuing to issue patents on naturally occurring genes that we all have in our bodies, legislation that protected the human embryo, cloned or otherwise, from becoming patentable biological material was sorely needed. Today that legislation is closer to becoming law.
Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL), a pro-life doctor, originally proposed the Weldon Amendment to prevent human embryos from being patented. Of course the biotech industry was opposed saying it would hinder stem cell research. But the Weldon Amendment only prevents patents on whole human organisms, not patents on stem cells from human organisms. Today Congress passed the Weldon Amendment as part of the America Invents Act and President Obama is expected to sign it. From LifeNews.com:
The provision would ban patents for genetically engineered human embryos or human beings but would not prohibit patents on tissues, cells or other biological products that are not actual humans.
Monday, September 12. 2011
Actually the reality is the exact opposite. It is the amorality of certain scientists and the pro-embryo destructive crown that is being imposed on the the rest of us sane individuals that know and acknowledge the fact that a human embryo is nascent human life.
When did the burden of proof shift anyway? When did we stop giving living organism of our species the benefit of the doubt? When did it become religious conservatives job to prove that it is a scientific fact that an embryo is a human life?
Doesn't logic dictate that it be the pro-embryo destruction crowd that has to prove beyond a doubt that embryos are NOT human life and therefore subject to experimentation? Doesn't the burden of proof lie with the the embryonic stem cell research and cloning crowd and those that agree? It should.
In another words, if you want to create and destroy embryos for research the burden of proof lies with you to prove that a human embryo, cloned or otherwise, is NOT a living human organism. You want to experiment on human organisms, it should be on you to prove they are not human.
Of course the pro-embryo destructive crowd cannot prove such and so have succeeded in wrongfully shifting the burden of proof onto those of us that want to protect human life. It is time to shift it back.
I often forget to turn the tables on the pro-deathers, but every time I do it, it works. I remember a conversation with a pro-choice friend in college. Granted this was about abortion, but the logic applies. He challenged me, "You can't prove it is a human life." And I replied, "And you can't prove that it is not." He was speechless. (Of course his statement was flat out false, but I think my response drove the point home.)
I am going to dust off this analogy learned from my amazing college philosophy professor, once again to remind myself and all of you that the burden of proof lies not with us, but with those who want to destroy embryos for their parts:
You are hunting in the woods with buddies. You hear a rustle behind you. It could be a deer. It could be one of your buddies. It could be a person. You just do not know. Do you shoot?
Wednesday, August 24. 2011
But apparently Dr. Robert Blake, and many other people nowadays, do not understand the difference. Blake recently wrote an opinion letter insisting that science does not know when human life begins. The fact that a new genetically distinct organism identifiable by his or her own unique DNA is created at fertilization is not important. Blake argues that same DNA is in every cell in our body and so the cell created at fertilization, the zygote, is no different than say a skin cell. They totally ignore the fact that a skin cell is just a cell and a zygote is an organism that self directs toward more mature stages like embryo, fetus, baby, child and so on. A skin cell will never do that on its own. I have heard the argument more and more that fertilization is not the beginning of a new human being because an embryo is no different than any cell or group of cells in our body. I marvel at the rationalization required to come that conclusion. For example, Blake writes that a transplanted kidney that lives on past the donor does not mean that a person is still alive:
Of course not. A kidney is not an organism. But an embryo is. An embryo, even though it is only a small group of cells, can and will self direct into a fetus, then a crying infant. A kidney will not. In other words, when you place an embryo in a womb, you will likely get out, 9 months later, a red-faced, pointy-head newborn. If you implant a kidney in a womb, 9 months later all you will have a misplaced kidney. It seems like such an easy distinction to make, but unfortunately when people go to such great lengths to rationalize away the humanity of the embryo, logic is difficult to come by.
Hat Tip: Jivin J
Thursday, August 18. 2011
Potential is a great adjective meaning "existing in possibility." It is useful for describing nouns such as "opportunity", "benefit" or "risk." But it is not an adjective that can be used in the biological sense with the noun "life." Unfortunately, it is used exactly in that manner. We have all heard that a human embryo not human life, only "potential" human life. But in biology there is only life or non-life. Either an organism is living or non-living. There is no "potential" life. So an living human embryo is human life, period. I found this great quote from Dr. C. Ward Kischer, emeritus professor of Human Embryology at the University of Arizona, that explains:
No human embryologist has ever, nor would ever, use the word potential describing human life or even "life." In fact, "potential" human life does not exist. All matter in the universe is classified as either living or non-living. One does not convert to the other. All that are living are either alive or dead. Those that are alive eventually become dead; once dead they cannot revert to living. There is no "potential" when referring to biological life!
Friday, June 24. 2011
It has been estimated that there are as many as half a million frozen IVF embryos in fertility clinics across the United States waiting to continue their lives. Some are abandoned or forgotten. What should be done about them? The Catholic Church resoundingly opposes using human embryos for research. Embryos are human organisms with value simply because they are human and to destroy them in research, even if the goal is a proposed good, is morally unacceptable.
Embryo adoption has been proposed as a way to give the half a million Americans on ice a chance at completing their lives. Embryo adoption would entail thawing these "surplus" embryos and implanting them into the uterus of a woman willing to gestate them. Snowflakes is an adoption program by Nightlight Christian Adoptions that is specifically for the adoption of frozen "surplus" IVF embryos. A embryo adoption is also called a heterologous embryo transfer (HET) because the gestating mother is not the embryo's genetic mother. Homologous embryo transfer is when an embryo is implanted into the genetic mother's womb.
At this time the Catholic Church does not have official teaching on embryo adoption. It is a very complex issue. More complex than even I ever imagined. It is not just a simple discussion over whether or not adopting embryos is ethical. Embryo adoption raises questions about the nature of marriage and what it means to be pregnant. If embryo adoption is ethical, should it be limited to married couples? Or could single or religious women participate? Does adopting an embryo imply a complacency with the entire immoral process of IVF? If embryo adoption is not ethical what should be done with the embryos currently frozen? Should they be left in cryopreservation or should they be thawed and allowed to expire?
True to my mission at this blog to inform the everyday Catholic about Catholic thought on tough bioethical issues, I have been researching what Catholic theologians have been saying about embryo adoption and I hope to present an overview. The range of opinion on this issue is staggering. What all do agree on is that the current situation is unacceptable, These hundreds of thousands of embryos should never have been created outside their mother's womb, outside of the act of love between a husband and wife. These smallest of human lives have been marginalized and treated like commodities. What these great thinkers disagree on is how best to deal with this untenable situation.
Nearly all of what follows came from the excellent book Human Embryo Adoption: Biotechnology, Marriage, and the Right to Life put out by the National Catholic Bioethics Center. The depth and breadth of the essays in this book is amazing. Being that I am no theologian or philosopher, I will never be able to convey every important subtlety of all the arguments in a simple blog post. So if this subject interests you, please purchase the book to get the full force of each author's arguments.
There are two camps of Catholic thought on embryo adoptions with variations in each camp. There are those that believe embryo adoption to be immoral and those who believe it to be moral. It seems the dividing line depends on whether pregnancy is viewed as a part of the procreative process between a husband and wife or whether pregnancy is seen as a biological nurturing that is a necessity after fertilization has occurred.
Among those on the "embryo adoption is immoral" side there is Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Christopher Oleson, Nicholas Tonti-Filipini, Mary Geach, and Rev. Nicanor Austriaco O.P. The foundation of this argument is the nature of marriage and its role in procreation. The Catholic Church has long argued that procreation is meant to be the fruit of the conjugal act of a husband and wife. Children are to be begotten out of a specific act of love between a wife and her husband. The above authors quote a specific passage from Donum Vitae:
They focus specifically on "the exclusive right to become father and mother solely through each other." They argue that impregnating a woman with the genetic offspring of another violates this right of a husband and wife to become a mother and father only through each other. Embryo adoption specifically excludes the husband because the wife becomes a gestational mother to the embryo while the husband is eliminated entirely from the procreative process. Nicholas Tonti-Filippini writes:
Fr. Pacholczyk goes one step further and argues that even implanting one's own embryos (homologous embryo transfer) is immoral for a couple. He writes:
So if adopting embryos violates marriage, what should be done with them? Fr. Pacholczyk and Nicholas Tonti-Filippini disagree. Fr. Pacholczyk argues in his Making Sense Out of Bioethics series that these embryos be kept frozen until such time as an alternative to embryo adoption becomes available such as an embryo incubator or artificial womb. Nicholas Tonti-Filippini argues that the process of cyropreservation itself it against the dignity of the embryo and embryos should be returned to their natural state and allowed to expire on their own.
In the "embryo adoption is moral" camp are William E. May, E. Christian Brugger, Rev. Thomas D. Williams L.C., John Berkman and Rev. Peter F. Ryan S.J. They agree that IVF violates the natural procreation of a husband and wife. They argue that naturally sexual intercourse, conception and gestation all go together, but IVF interrupts that natural process. Procreation instead takes place in a dish and so gestation is turned into a biological necessity to save the life created with IVF. William E. May writes:
John Berkman likens frozen embryos to orphans and argues that Christians have obligation to take care of them. He writes:
Rev. Paul F. Ryan asserts that not only is embryo adoption moral, but that the government "find women who are willing and able to have the embryos transferred into their wombs." Ryan suggests the state "should run a campaign to have these embryos gestated and adopted."
So if embryo adoption is moral then who can and should adopt? May and others hold that married or single women can gestate embryos to save them. May even says that women can gestate, give birth and then give those babies up for adoption. This would be referred to as "embryo rescue" as opposed to "embryo adoption." Berkman disagrees and thinks embryos should only be adopted by a married couple that is willing to raise the child.
As you can see, there is much disagreement and until the Church comes out with an official stance, there will continue to be debate. So what are Catholics to do if they already have frozen embryos or if they feel called to adopt an embryo? Rev. Thomas Berg L.C. and Edward J. Furton have some guidelines. They recommend, first and foremost, getting counsel from a priest or ethicist who is well informed and has a reputation of fidelity to Church teaching. For couples who already have frozen IVF embryos, they recommend implanting them and bringing them to term unless there are grave reasons not to. If there are grave reasons, then the couple can search their conscience and consider giving those embryos up for adoption. If adoption to another couple is not an option, then continuing to keep them frozen may become futile. In this case, it may be ethical to thaw the embryos and allow them to die. For those who feel called to adopt an embryo, they need to examine their conscience to ensure that it is not for any reason other than the best interest of the child. The husband must give "deliberate and express consent" and while the embryos are transfered, great effort must be taken to not cooperate with the IVF industry. A clear statement must be made to condemn the process of IVF and reiterate that this embryo adoption is an effort to right those wrongs.
**Update** My great commenters reminded me that the Instruction Dignitas Personae on Certain Bioethical Questions published after the above volume had the following passage that seems to call embryo adoption immoral:
It clearly states that embryo adoption for the treatment of infertility is immoral, but adoption for adoption sake is left ambiguous to which the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops had this statement:
Tuesday, May 31. 2011
How many times have you heard that other more "enlightened" countries in Europe and around the globe do not have such ridiculous, science-hating, draconian policies regarding research using human embryos as the United States? I could not possibly recount endless comments I have read all over that bemoan that the United States is sooooo far behind everyone else because we are not as "progressive" as other countries in ripping apart embryos and using them for the stem cell gold inside. If you believed everything you read on the Internet, you would think that it is an embryonic free-for-all everywhere else in the world and every country except the United States will benefit from cures and Americans will not. You could believe that, but it isn't true.
The only restriction on research with human embryos on the federal level in the United States is funding research that destroys embryos. That means that in most states, researchers are free to create and destroy human embryos all day long for stem cells. They can even clone human embryos. They can even clone human embryos with cow, rabbit and mouse eggs if they so choose. In reality there are no federal laws that restrict creating, destroying or cloning human embryos for research. There is only the Dickey-Wicker Amendment that prohibits federal monies from funding such research. Many people even want to get rid of that relatively tiny, but critically important, funding restriction.
Compare that to the embryonic stem cell research policy in France that was just renewed. In France, human embryonic stem cell research is banned. Researchers can work with human embryonic stem cells if they have a special dispensation and only if the embryos are from another country and are left-over from in vitro fertilization. No embryos can be created for research. Which means cloning embryos for research is also prohibited. According to the Center for Genetics and Society's BioPolicyWiki page, France's 2004 law that guides research on embryos has the following core values:
Respect for the dignity of the human embryo
What about Germany? Cutting edge Germany must have progressive laws on human embryonic stem cell research right? No again. In Germany any research on human embryos is totally prohibited. The 1990 German Act for the Protection of Embryos states:
1. Anyone who disposes of, or hands over or acquires or uses for a purpose not serving its preservation, a human embryo produced outside the body, or removed from a woman before the completion of implantation in the uterus, will be punished with imprisonment of up to three years or a fine.
Austria also bans embryonic stem cell research. Denmark and Italy prohibit the destruction of human embryos for embryonic stem cells but they allow for the importation of human embryonic stem cell lines from other countries. In fact here is a list of European Countries that, unlike the United States, ban the creation of human embryos for use in research: Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Spain, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxemborg, Lativa, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romaina, Sewden, Slovenia, and Slokavia. This means all these countries have banned the cloning embryos for research, which the United States has not.
Well what about in North America? Surely Canada has more "progressive" laws than the United States? Wrong again. In Canada, embryos cannot be created for research and existing IVF embryos can only be destroyed for research if all parties involved (sperm and egg donors) have given informed consent. This means that Canada has also banned cloning human embryos for research.
See the United States is backward in its polices regarding research on human embryos. It is backward because unlike other countries it has no national policy that protects human embryos at all!
Tuesday, February 22. 2011
Friday, February 18. 2011
At one of my recent talks, a good friend of mine was asking a question when he said, "As Catholics we believe life begins at conception."
I immediately interrupted him, a bit too zealously I think, and blurted "We do not BELIEVE life begins at conception. We KNOW life begins at conception. That is a scientific fact. We BELIEVE that life has value and should be protected. That is our faith."
The Catholic Church simply acknowledges the facts presented in embryology text books:
"Although human life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed."
It seems this misconception is everywhere from non-Catholics to Catholics alike. Everyone says it, "Catholics BELIEVE that life begins at conception." It is that very line that lets everyone who is not Catholic dismiss everything we have to say about stem cell research, cloning and reproductive technologies.
So please do not perpetuate this miscommunique. As Catholics we do not BELIEVE that human life begins at conception. We KNOW it because science also knows it (whether they want to admit it or not.) Even a child old enough to know about the birds and the bees knows that they began the day their father's sperm meet their mother's egg. Catholics BELIEVE that human life from the very beginning has value and worth and should be protected under the law. THAT is our belief.
Wednesday, September 22. 2010
My readers know that I have said this a thousand times, but it never seems to penetrate the skulls of some who are for embryo destructive research. They cry that an embryo is only a clump of cells and to call it a human organism is religious sophistry.
It is they who are committing the sophistry by claiming that a human organism does not begin at fertilization. A new human organism begins at fertilization. That is a biological fact, not a religious tenet.
Tired of doing battle with those so high on their science that they cannot see their own bias, namely those that argue that an embryo is somehow not a human organism, Wesley Smith has uncovered the National Institutes of Health (NIH) definition of an embryo:
What I find particular sad about having to argue whether or not a human embryo is a new human life is that is distracts from the REAL, more difficult issue: whether that life has value or deserves protection under the law. That is the true debate and one worth having.
So let me be clear. It IS my religious and personal belief that ALL human organisms have value and deserve protection under the law regardless of their stage of development. That happens to include embryos because, by scientific definition, they are human organisms.
So a tip for all who want to argue with me or anyone that human life does not begin at fertilization because you are for research that destroys embryos. What you are really wanting to say is that it is your opinion that the human life that begins at fertilization does not have enough value to be protected under the law and therefore can and should be used for research. See, you are instantly smarter!
Friday, June 12. 2009
I often argue that furious debate surrounding this question is focused in the wrong place. Scientifically, a new life begins at conception. Even a child knows that. What we are really arguing about when we argue about the beginnings of life is whether or not that life has value. Whether we think that life deserves protection. The Catholic Church does not "believe" that life begins at conception (because this is a fact), it "believes" that the new human life that begins at conception has value simply because it is human.
Whether or not a human embryo, either in vivo or in vitro, has value and should have rights and protections under the law, and to what extent, is an argument worth having. Arguing about the fact that a human embryo is a new human life is just a waste of everyone's time.
It is unfortunate that I even have to point this out. I once spoke to a woman with a biology degree who swore up and down that there was no evidence than an embryo was a living human being. (I asked her why scientists study embryo death if embryos are not living beings.) She was adamant that her embryology book in no way shape or form said that life begins at conception.
I was going to do some investigating, but Jivin J did some of the work for me already. Here are some quotes from various embryology books:
"Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote). ... The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual." (Carlson, Bruce M., Patten's Foundations of Embryology, 6th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996, p.3.)
Thursday, May 14. 2009
I am sorry it has been a while since I have blogged. Spring has just been crazy for me and it will continue into summer so I am sure there will be light posting until things settle down for the Taylor family.
I found this piece today that made me think "blob of cells, my a--!" From Science Daily:
Monday, April 20. 2009
Sometimes other people say it better than you ever could. In the comments at Wesley J. Smith's blog, SparcVark penned this gem on which humans get to be part of humanity and which do not:
SparcVark, whoever you are, you made Wesley's day, but you made my week!
Instinctively, everyone knows when human life begins. It begins just like in other species, when sperm combines with egg to create a new distinct organism. But for some reason, in humans we need to "argue" about it. It is only a "belief" that life begins at conception. I think scientists should know better, but many don't. They get caught up in their personal ideologies just like everyone else.
It is not a "belief" that human life begins at conception, it is a fact. What is a belief is that life has value and should be protected under the law. This is where we disagree. The Catholic Church believes that human life is valuable from the very beginning to its natural end.
I often get slammed by other science bloggers for "letting my religion get in the way of reality." Somehow they think it is my religion that says that human life begins at conception, instead of my religion simply acknowledging the scientific facts of life. What disturbs me more than anything is when so-called science changes nomenclature to fit an ideological agenda. For example, the push to use the term "pre-embryo" for any embryo that has yet to implant in a uterus. Or when doctors insist that IVF embryos have yet to be conceived. When "science" does this, it is the Vatican that is more scientifically correct.
But do not take my word for it. Wesley J. Smith has a quote from a Nature editorial from 1987 discussing this very issue ("IVF remains in legal limbo," Nature 387 (1987): 87):
I want to point out three things in this quote. First, the editors of Nature acknowledge the obvious: if a fertilized frog's egg is called an embryo, then a fertilized human egg is an embryo as well. Second, they also point out that the debate IS NOT about when a human life begins, BUT AT WHAT POINT THAT LIFE SHOULD BE PROTECTED UNDER THE LAW. That is the real debate.
And finally, the editors of Nature admit the Vatican is consistent in the use of scientific nomenclature when discussing the beginning of human life. Nature acknowledges that it is not some religious spin when the Catholic Church says an embryo is an embryo regardless of whether it floats in a uterus or in a petri dish. It is simply the Church recognizing the facts. Amazing!
Tuesday, March 10. 2009
I have no words for this article written by Megha Satyanarayana where human embryos are called "trash":
I have been criticized to no end for harping on IVF. But this is where IVF has brought us. Embryos have gone from a miracle of life and precious gifts to "trash." Nice.
Friday, February 20. 2009
You can if you live in New Mexico, and probably many other states where a human embryo is considered property. (I know embryos are considered property in my state.) The New Mexico State Senate just passed the SB77 the Stem Cell Biomedical Research Bill. Now, it is on to the House for a vote.
This bill fascinates me. It has some very good things in it, but also some very bad things. Let us start with the bad. This bill would allow scientists in New Mexico to destroy embryos left over from IVF treatments, but only with the consent of the "owner." From the bill:
So, they admit that an embryo is a human organism, but says it has an "owner." I wonder who owns an embryo? Is it the woman who donated the egg? Or the man who donated the sperm? Or is it the person or persons who ordered up the embryo?
There are some good things about this bill. First, it says it bans human reproductive cloning, and as far as I can see it actually bans human cloning:
So, it bans the creation of an cloned embryo not just the implantation of cloned embryos. Also, it prohibits the creation of embryo just for research:
And it provides a conscience clause for those researchers who are morally opposed to research on human embryos:
All of these provisions are good, but I just cannot get over the idea that someone can "own" a human being, even if it is only the size of the period at the end of this sentence. I suppose when you create life outside the womb, "ownership" becomes a problem that necessarily follows. Maybe, just maybe, that is what the Catholic Church saw coming when it said IVF was immoral.
Tuesday, January 13. 2009
It does according to the BBC. This headline says so:
Considering that pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) takes a single cell from a newly formed embryo for genetic testing, I am wondering how that is even possible. PGD tests 3 day-old embryos to be exact. That means 3 days AFTER sperm has met egg. So how can PGD take place before conception? Well if you change the definition of conception, then it is possible:
So the nearly half a million human embryos that are sitting in the deep freeze have yet to be conceived? What utter rubbish! Conception is when sperm penetrates egg, implantation is when the resulting embryos implants in the womb.
Once again society is being mislead and numbed by language that has no meaning. If the BBC were to acknowledge that PGD occurs after conception then maybe some of us would actually put 2 and 2 together to make 4 and decide that they are very uncomfortable with this technology. Especially when we realize that all of the post conception embryos that failed the genetic test got tossed in the biohazard waste.
I am wondering where is the outcry from scientists and doctors? How can they sit back and let a media outlet tell us the 2 plus 2 equals 5? Probably because it is good for business. No doubt the BBC definition of conception was given to them by a fertility doctor. I am reminded of this quote from Lee M. Silver, professor of biology at Princeton, from his book Remaking Eden. Dr. Silver discusses the use of the term "pre-embryo" (meaning an embryo that has yet to be implanted):
I am disturbed to my core at the redefinition of scientific terminology to fit a political or social agenda. From human cloning to IVF, there must be a secret memo circulating that says, "never call an embryo an embryo or else the public might just wise up."
Hat Tip: Wesley J. Smith
Tuesday, October 14. 2008
I am sorry for the hiatus, but a sudden illness in the family had myself, my husband and four children driving 3500 miles across country last week. This means I have also been out of the loop when it comes to all of the recent news. So while I catch up, I will leave you with this entry that has been in the back of my mind for several weeks.
My second child is in the 4th grade and her school does not do any sex education until 7th grade. So, like with my oldest, I recently took it upon myself to sit her down and give her the facts of life. (Her response was a resounding, "That is so gross!")
To facilitate our discussion, I checked out several books from the library that had the visuals of the female reproductive system I was looking for. While reading these books designed for children, I noticed something very profound.
Not one of the secular children's books on the subject of human reproduction was ambiguous about when human life begins. See, children could care less about the broad philosophical question "When does human life begin?" They want to know when they began.
No children's book on the subject of human reproduction would say to little Johnny that "no one is really sure when your life began." No parent in their right mind would tell their little Sally that "knowing when you began is above my pay grade."
Here are some of the excerpts from the very non-religious books that I got from my very public library:
Sounds simple because it is simple. Even a child knows when human life begins; when their life began. Even a child knows they have been a continuous organism from the moment Daddy's sperm penetrated Mommy's egg.
Once again here is more proof that the so-called debate over the abstract "when does human life begin?" is not really about that at all. The real debate is whether that life has value. Whether or not that life deserves protection under the law.
I find it more and more disturbing the ways in which adults commit verbal acts of contortion to obfuscate this issue and others like it. I truly fear for a society that can take something so simple as the moment of conception and not only deny the facts of what has occurred, but then pat themselves on the back for being intellectually honest. All the while accusing those who acknowledge the fact that a new human life is formed at the moment of conception of being "religiously biased."
If I am "religiously biased", then so is every children's book on "how babies are made" in my public library.
Friday, October 3. 2008
I came across this post from Dr. Nuckols at LifeEthics.org and I had an epiphany. I have always known there was a link between embryo-destructive research and assisted suicide and euthanasia.
There is the obvious "sanctity of life" connection, but this passage from Dr. Nuckols really put it together for me:
Does it surprise me that someone who advocated for the destruction of human embryos for research would also advocate death for those that feel like a burden to their families? Absolutely not.
But what I realized is that Lady Warnock and others who share her opinions really think there are humans that have a "duty to die." Not just the sick or elderly who are a burden on their families, but also the "left-over" embryos from IVF.
This twisted logic says that "left-over" human embryos in the deep freeze have a "duty to die" to give the rest of us "cures." It is the frozen embryo's duty to be ripped open for the "betterment of society" just like it is the duty of the sick and eldery to get rid of themselves.
I shudder to think where this "duty to die" will end. Do the disabled have a duty to die? Do the mentally ill? Do the obese?
I am guessing that Lady Warnock thinks everyone has a duty to die as long as it is not her or anyone she loves.
Tuesday, September 9. 2008
It is unfortunate that I feel compelled to write this entry at all. The rhetoric surrounding Roe vs. Wade has crippled us in this discussion. It has confused biological fact with questions that cannot be answered by science.
Let me be very clear. The debate IS NOT when human life begins. A new human life identifiable by his or her unique DNA is created at conception.
What we are REALLY discussing is whether or not that life has VALUE.
Now, that IS a question worth debating. If you think that a human embryo does not deserve protection under the law then say so. It does no one any good trying to assert that a human embryo or fetus is not a human life. Focusing on the wrong debate really gets us nowhere.
Friday, April 27. 2007
From Catholic Online:
This quote is my favorite:
Sunday, March 25. 2007
Ask a Catholic youth when human life begins and you may be surprised by the answer. This weekend I spoke at a local Catholic youth conference on stem cell research and cloning. I have also given courses in local middle schools on the subject. I always begin by asking them when science says a new human life begins. Out of probably 200 teenagers, only one of them got it right: conception.
They answered with "when there is a heartbeat," "at birth," "when there is blood." But only one girl answered correctly. I am astounded and dismayed everytime I ask the question because most of them have been educated in Catholic schools. In fact, one girl was the daughter of friends of mine who I know have taught her about abortion and she said, "science says life begins at three months."
The light bulbs go on when I say that what we debate isn't when a new human life begins (or it shouldn't be). That is clear: a new distinct human organism, identifiable by his or her unique DNA, is created at conception. What we debate is whether we should assign value to that life. The hotly argued question isn't whether a human embryo is a human organism, but whether it has moral worth.
Then I ask them when the Catholic Church says human life begins, and they always say in unison: conception.
What a disconnect. So next time you have the opportunity to talk to a Catholic youth, ask them when human life begins. Their answer will no doubt surprise you. Then it is your turn to enlighten them because clearly their science teachers aren't doing their job.
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