October 5, 2006

Ongoing commentary on “Stem cell Wars: Inside Stories from the Frontlines”

Embryonic stem cell research would not exist today if it weren't for the groundwork laid by the science of in-vitro fertilization...There were cries that the new in-vitro fertilization technique would spell the end of the nuclear family because it ripped conception away from the sanctity of the marriage relationship...there were many cries that science was on a slippery slope to cloning and the creation of "designer babies." (p. 31)

These are interesting comments by Herold, not all entirely wrong either -- though I don't think she was looking for my agreement. If not for IVF, the 400,00+ embryos would likely not exist as the great temptation to ESCR scientists as they are. And while altruistic motives may undergird the practice of IVF, it's also true that it's birthed a greater sense of autonomy in many respects. Is it merely coincidence that another hot political topic today is the definition of marriage and the family?

The existence of these tiny frozen dots has become a contentious political issue...Their biological parents have already had all the children they want, and it is up to these parents to decide what they would like to happen with their unused embryos. (p. 35-36)

This statement would be almost amusing if a proper understanding of human dignity was not at stake. How is it that dots can have parents? I appreciate that Herold concedes to the relationship between the embryo and the parents, but her casual view of human life -- dots -- threatens the future of humanity and trivializes its origins. The other piece to this is that it is crucial, especially today, for biological parents to understand that parenting really begins at conception, not in the delivery room.

Oddly enough, in today's strange political climate, no one is objecting to those embryos being thrown away, but to fight to keep them from being used to find cures for disease is ferocious. (p. 37)

Of course there is objection! Snowflakes is one helpful approach in seeking to right a wrong.

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