Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Hooray for the House!

The House of Representatives does something right for a change. So now embryos that would otherwise be destined for the garbage can will now be used for scientific good. I'll be interested to see how far stem-cell research can go.

A note - Bush's defense of his policy is quite asinine. I guess he didn't notice that the supply of frozen embryos far outpaces the demand for adoption of said embryos.

I also want to bring up how we seem to be ignoring our commitment to science where it matters most. Sure, Bush is giving lip service to alternative energies, but instead of funding research on alternative fuels, he decides to spend money on drilling in ANWR. And he's looking for excuses not to fund research that could cure Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and paralysis. I recently discovered that the NSF is pretty much flat broke. Good budgeting there, buddy.

(Yeah, this post is a little bit self-serving. I don't care - scientists do good work. Most of the time.)


Mike said...

Another point I've made and heard many other people make about Bush's view on stem cells. For someone who claims to be a huge supporter of this so-called "culture of life", he sure seems to be opposed to medical research with the potential to save lives, doesn't he?

Ben said...

Since I'm ambivalent about the issue, allow me to offer a brief alternative point of view.

In a Kantian world of ethics, it is wrong to harm a person, even if it is done to help another. Thus the Hippocratic Oath motto "do no harm." Bush & Co. believe one is a human being from conception. Therefore, to destroy a zygote/early human being to harvest stem cells is to destroy a human being to save other human beings. True, the embryos are going to be destroyed anyway...but that just makes one who believes embryos are human beings wonder about the morality of in vitro fertilization at all.

Of course, from a more Utilitarian point of view the above argument is ridiculous, even if you DO believe a zygote is a human being. The possiblity of saving so many human lives with the cells of embryos that will never have lives anyway is too wonderful to ignore.

So, to be fair to Bush (not something that brings me pleasure), this ultimately comes down to 2 issues. (1) Is an early-stage embryo a human being? (2) Kantian ethics vs. Utilitarian ethics.