quasi in rem

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Ron Reagan Jr, The Tool of the Democratic Convention

I am not one to fisk for fisks sake, but last nights little diatribe by Ron Reagan Junior on Embryonic Stem cell research was just completely ridiculous on so many levels, I simply must vent on the topic. First the dishonesty bit:

"Let me assure you, I am not here to make a political speech and the topic at hand should not — must not — have anything to do with partisanship

Whatever else you do come Nov. 2, I urge you, please, cast a vote for embryonic stem cell research. "

Please. I don't which is sadder: if Ron Reagan Jr. did not really think he was making a political speech or if he really thinks he can convince people he is not making one. Showing up and speaking a NATIONAL POLITICAL CONVENTION which is nominating a party standard bearer and announcing that your speech is not political is akin to speaking at a Klan rally but saying that your speech is not about racism.

Next onto the guts about stem cell research. His point seems to be that the only possible reason to be against embryonic stem cell research is that God told you to be. Well God hasn't told me any such thing. I really have no idea what God's position on embryonic stem cell research is, I have read most of the Bible and I can't find the word embryo in there anywhere.

My real problem is, I used to be an embryo. So did you. And Ron Reagan Jr. Heck even John Kerry was an embryo at one point.

My memories of the experience are a little hazy, granted, but I believe there was a lot of moving, and, despite rapid weight gain, little worry.

But back to his views on the matter:
I am here tonight to talk about the issue of research into what may be the greatest medical breakthrough in our or any lifetime: the use of embryonic stem cells — cells created using the material of our own bodies — to cure a wide range of fatal and debilitating illnesses: Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, lymphoma, spinal cord injuries and much more.

His key quote "cells created using the materials of our own bodies" is completely disengenuous. To end the description there, he would be describing adult stem cell research. Yes we have stem cells too, every where. In our skin, teeth and bone marrow.

Embryonic stem cell research would be more accurately described as cells created by creating, mutating, and destroying and embryo. Or is it? Let's hear Ron Jr. describe it...

Now, imagine going to a doctor who, instead of prescribing drugs, takes a few skin cells from your arm. The nucleus of one of your cells is placed into a donor egg whose own nucleus has been removed. A bit of chemical or electrical stimulation will encourage your cell’s nucleus to begin dividing, creating new cells which will then be placed into a tissue culture. Those cells will generate embryonic stem cells containing only your DNA, thereby eliminating the risk of tissue rejection. These stem cells are then driven to become the very neural cells that are defective in Parkinson’s patients. And finally, those cells — with your DNA — are injected into your brain where they will replace the faulty cells whose failure to produce adequate dopamine led to the Parkinson’s disease in the first place.

Why it sounds just magical. And no embryo's are invovled at all! We have a donor egg and a tissue culture. Why is it even call embryonic stem cell research? It should be called "those cells" stem cell research.

Yes, these cells could theoretically have the potential, under very different circumstances, to develop into human beings — that potential is where their magic lies. But they are not, in and of themselves, human beings. They have no fingers and toes, no brain or spinal cord. They have no thoughts, no fears. They feel no pain.

Surely we can distinguish between these undifferentiated cells multiplying in a tissue culture and a living, breathing person — a parent, a spouse, a child.

So this is what I do not get:

1. Creating a little potential person and then stopping development is ok, because it is not really a person, and then destroying that little potential person is still ok, because you can get stem cells to grow yourself a new liver.

2. But creating a little actual person and then killing it is not ok.

It is all about where you draw the line. But to say that because someone is not a living person person it is ok to kill is the simplest rendition of bioethics I have ever heard.

It seems to me that if creating a little clone of yourself in a test tube and then destoying that clone to get stem cells to grow yourself a new liver or heart or whatever is ok, then why draw the line there?

Why not let the little embryo grow until it grows an actual heart or liver and then use that heart or liver for yourself?

What is the difference? A few months? It is the same being. Just a little older. If one is ok, they should both be ok.

And then this:
I know a child — well, she must be 13 now — I guess I’d better call her a young woman. She has fingers and toes. She has a mind. She has memories. She has hopes. She has juvenile diabetes. Like so many kids with this disease, she’s adjusted amazingly well. The — the insulin pump she wears — she’s decorated hers with rhinestones. She can handle her own catheter needle. She’s learned to sleep through the blood drawings in the wee hours of the morning.

Did you know that adult stem cell research has had several breakthoughs in finding the cure for juvenile diabetes? Well you wouldn't if you were at the democratic convention.

But this patrt in his conclusion..
And for all of us in this fight, let me say: we will prevail. The tide of history is with us. Like all generations who have come before ours, we are motivated by a thirst for knowledge and compelled to see others in need as fellow angels on an often difficult path, deserving of our compassion.

Is true. Bioethics has always lost to our natural curiosity. It always will. Humans always find a way to rationalize away the better angels of our judgment in the search for short term satisfaction. We will make Frankenstein's monster. It is only a matter of time.

I for one look forward to my little organ doning clone version of myself. For too long I have been abastaing for copious amounts of alcohol for fear that it will hurt my liver.

No more!

It is bacon for every meal! Vodka for breakfast! Supersize it please!

I think I will name my clone organ donor Ronny, in honor of you Mr Reagan Jr.


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