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The Forum > Article Comments > Embryonic stem cell research: a sob story? > Comments

Embryonic stem cell research: a sob story? : Comments

By Erik Leipoldt, published 14/9/2005

Erik Leipoldt argues ethically highly controversial stem cell research is not necessary.

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Cool! Abortion, stem cell research and religion! This should be a nice friendly discussion, which will no doubt end in a peaceful consensus.

Ok, letís dig in.

ĎI would not want to avail myself of a cure for quadriplegia if this came at the expense of potential human embryosí
Avoiding an avenue for potentially great medical research simply because an embryo might have become a babyÖthatís a bit warped. Itís not like theyíre created for that purpose. If theyíre aborted anyway, it seems likeÖwell, a bit of a waste of an abortion doesnít it? I mean, itís not like the stem cells are going to be used for anything else!

ĎOf course I do not oppose ethical means to finding cures.í
Cool, then donít oppose this one! Itís only a piece of flesh, itís not like itís a human being.

Sorry, wait, donít get me wrong guys, donít misunderstand me. I know some of you THINK itís unethical. Iím just telling you that itís not. :D

I think Iíve discovered a great way to become popular! Mocking peoples opinions about highly controversial topics. Yay for me!

ĎThere is an alternative to ESC and that is adult stem cell research. Some scientists claim this line of research to be more promising in therapeutic purposes than ESC.í
I think any reasonable person would agree that every available option should be explored when trying to research cures and treatments for medical conditions.

ĎSo is finding a cure just a PR sob story to pull in support for broad activities?í
Nup. Primary use is for medical treatment. Everything else is secondary.

My tactlessness is intentional by the way, I'm just looking forward to seeing how wound up people get...
Posted by spendocrat, Wednesday, 14 September 2005 2:01:25 PM
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My potential conflict of interest is to some degree less dramatic - I will require hip replacement surgery every twenty or so years for the rest of my life and stem cell research has been indicated as potentially radically reducing risk and improving results for these.

My main issue with your argument about stem cell research being unethical (and woe is the poor human embryos that are massacred to benefit the rest of us) is that it is absurd. I purge an egg (or two) every month that is no further along than these stem cells except for the fact of the 'magic moment' of fertilization. Thanks to chemical contraception the egg (whether fertilized or not) cannot lodge in my uterus. So I am purging a cluster of stem cells every month and I do not think that this warrants societies grievance.

The stem cells at fertility clinics get piffed after a number of years in any case. Mr Dubya Bush's argument is not agains piffing them so that they cannot be used, it is just against using them. Go figure.

Let us then revisit your 'floodgates' argument about the dubious ethics of researchers. All medical research has some vested interests. All medical research (much of which involves genetic engineering and messing with hormones) has some potential for misuse like the island of dr moreau. That is why we have regulations. They are never perfect but then neither is the world.

I agree with you that disability need not lead to poor quality of life. Different people have different needs. For some people the loss of mobility is completely devastating. For others, their ability to take pleasure in a range of activities and maximise the freedom that they do have is a real option (which seems to be the case for you). Most occupy middle ground. The availability of choice to take advantage of treatment cure is always better than no choice.
Posted by monikasar, Wednesday, 14 September 2005 5:44:22 PM
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Itís dangerous territory to talk about things that dabble into human value, religion and so on, but here I go.
Iím not against science. I applaud all discoveries and inventions, if only for their ingenuity and design. I am also not a religious man. I am an Atheist, and no amount of argument and such will persuade me otherwise. But I agree with certain elements of religion and what it stands for, such as valuing others, treating others as you would like to be treated, ďJudge not lest ye be judgedĒ, but I am convinced there is no ĎGodí, but nor do I think that religion is the dragon that guards the door to a golden age. I offer my full support for research that could improve human life, even if itís at the cost of a few aborted cells. But it is not right for a baby, a human life, to be aborted solely for that purpose. I agree that if these cells can be put to such a good use- the advancement of knowledge- then so be it, better than letting them go to waste. Of course, some may argue that these remains deserve a proper burial. Thatís heading into the argument of when a foetus is classed as Ďhumaní, so Iíll just sidestep that minefield and say that I would rather be used to help people than rot in the ground, which is why I support the donating of blood and organs. If I can enhance the life of but one man, I would have done a great thing. If I could help all of mankind, I would, willingly, even if I did not have a say in the matter, as the unborn child would not.
An attempt at curing a disease can lead to another great discovery. Many things have been invented while the inventor was attempting something vastly different to the outcome.
In conclusion, I would have to say: No. The bigger issue here is for cures, the benefit of every man, woman and child on this Earth.
Posted by Cloud Strife, Wednesday, 14 September 2005 11:02:47 PM
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A piece of flesh you say! At what point does it become a human being? A basic understanding of embryology provides for a very clear defining point.
If you do not have this defining point correct then you might as well donate your dominant arm, in fact if it is all a piece of flesh, then the whole body too, surely it would be more valuable to science.
We must be very clear, adult stem cell research, has and continues to provide, answers and cures. This area of science has exponentially greater chance of maintaining your swinging hips, than that promised by embryonic stem cell research. Thay have promised outcomes for years, and will continue to do so, too many investments at stake.
Society should be grieved by the 100 million women who expose themselves to the combined contraceptive pill, recently classified as a Category One carcinogen by the WHO.
How about that definition of life?
Posted by Dr Mac, Wednesday, 14 September 2005 11:29:19 PM
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Dr Mac. There have always been qualifiers on the notion that all human life is sacred. Some people support capital punhishment. Others support superflous wars and call civilian killings collateral damage. I for one would like to see less debate about the well being of cells that are already fated to be thrown away and more about why we engage in mass killings on false pretenses. In any case right to life has always been judged, weighed, and qualified.

In my opinion, we protect human life out of

a) utilitarian self interest
b) out of compassion for something that thinks, can feel and is worse off as a result of a loss of an anticipated future
c) out of regard for the other thinking feeling beings that will experience this loss.

Couples wanting to conceive through IVF don't really care about the fate of the embryos. Society is not served by protecting them, the cluster of cells has no thought, feeling or anticipation of a future and hence no loss. In my opinion there is no harm in the loss of these organic bits and pieces.

Women purge fertilized embryos as a result of natural causes ALL THE TIME and no one would seriously argue we need to allocate more research dollars to finding out why and less on curing cancer.

In my opinion the loss of an embryo (that was never intended to become a life) is a lot less serious than the death of any one of the adult mammals (cows, sheep, apes) killed for eating or science every day. They have thoughts, feel pain, live in kinship units that experience loss but no one gives a stuff about the ethics of life there.

Do you have any rational reason for getting up in defence of a cluster of cells beyond fear of reproductive control and straight dogma?

Think of all the human life, pain, illness and suffering that could be alleviated if people like you actually stopped and thought about why.
Posted by monikasar, Thursday, 15 September 2005 9:14:04 AM
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It's easy Erik when a cure is found you can just say no to it.
Posted by Kenny, Thursday, 15 September 2005 9:23:46 AM
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