Saturday, March 14, 2009

Obama Chop-Shop Ready for Business

It is official. President Obama's EO permitting ESCR on an expanded line of embryos that rescinds former Pres. Bush's ban on federal funding of such ESCR has stepped the country through the door into A Brave New World. Keep in mind, the door has been open through the last eight years with private entities doing ESCR, but save for the tether of Bush's policy, the government could not fund ESCR. Now, however, no technical restrictions bind the government from funding any kind of ESCR.

The inspiration for this post comes from the multiplicity of blogtalk about Pres. Obama's EO. Certainly most conservatives are saying "oh, that's bad," but very few have articulated just what's so bad about it. Of all the chatter, Secondhand Smoke's Wesley J. Smith probably gives the best breakdown of just what Obama's EO really means in a column he wrote for the Weekly Standard. In a nutshell, ESCR is in, but alternatives that do not destroy an embryo in the process are out.

But wait, there's more. Now, the omnibus bill, also signed this week, contains the Dickey-Wicker Amendment that restricts any federal funding of the creation or destruction of embryos for research purposes (in place in every budget bill since 1996). There was some confusion on what this means on MoAC, but here is what I gather from it and the source article from From the CNS article, Michael Werner, a lobbyist in favor of federally funded ESCR, says

“Dickey-Wicker does not stand in the way of the NIH funding the use of embryonic stem cell research, but it does stand in the way of using federal funds to derive the cells from the embryos,” Werner told “If it were done away with, it would free up researchers more instead of having one set of dollars to derive the cells and one set of dollars for research.”

Which means, even though the EO frees up money for ESCR, Dickey-Wicker prohibits the stem-cells from being obtained from fetuses directly. Directly, because somewhere in the technicalities, I'm still feeling the breeze through a potential loophole in Dickey-Wicker. In the second point of the amendment, it prohibits

(2) research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death...[emphasis mine]

Theoretically, there is slight plausible deniability in using stem-cells unknowingly derived from embryos, especially cells which may either be purchased or donated from privately-run research labs. From the article, one White House official even stated, “These [stem-cells] come from, generally come from, embryos that are left over at fertilization labs and IVF clinics, and that can be created privately.” Aha. However minute the loophole is, the question is whether or not the Obama Administration can fit this hot car through it. The letter of Dickey-Wicker doesn't appear all that flexible, which is probably why Democrats in Congress are now trying to get rid of it. That's right, the chop-shop is open for ESCR and laws and to make nuance a way of life for the next four years (at least).

In defense of his EO, Pres. Obama acknowledged the ethical objections of the conscientious, but said that the potential health benefits of ESCR outweigh such objections (chop-shop!). So, in this case, Obama's might makes ESCR right. As much as I find this attitude unjust all by itself, I find the underlying source the greater tragedy that threatens much more than what happens in a lab. The underpinning idea in play is that life itself is not valuable--chop-shop proponents don't value life--they value only what life has to offer in terms of experiences and sensations of the individual (arguably limited to the young and healthy). This is an attitude of temporality, not visionary of the future and not concerned with the benefit to humanity or civilization on the whole. If it does have a vision, it is to make certain that humans in the future share the same temporal attitudes that dominate the ethics scene nowadays.

Add to that the next logical question: just where are scientists going to get all these stem-cells, if not legally from embryos? Ah, they can enact legislation similar to Missouri's own Amendment 2, which redefined cloning to pass the public sniff test, or what I like to call the Gov. Matt "Curry-Favor" Blunt dance. The result? The public funding of cloning by not calling it cloning--presto!

American voters, specifically conscientious voters against ESCR and cloning, need to know the bioethics of these issues, even if they are difficult due to the technical language. The priniciples on what life is and how humans should treat each other are what is at stake, and you should care, because it will be either on your public officials' ballots and/or on yours.

I'll end this post with a reflection: I once read a short story about a society where organs (and lives) were routinely harvested from teens and young adults to implant into the elderly so that aging citizens could maintain active, independent lifestyles. Though the outward circumstances differ, we are experiencing just this Huxley-esque scenario described in the story. Be disturbed. Be very disturbed.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Confident Christianity--Dot Com!

The Confident Christianity apologetics blog has now launched its apologetics website, Yay for birth! Congratulations to Mary Jo Sharp. I pray and hope that her site is blessed with much traffic and changed hearts and minds.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

No, Really, I'm Not an Object...

even though I'm selling myself like a fresh slice at the corner deli.

A few weeks ago, I listened to a radio interview of the now famous Natalie Dylan. I hadn't heard of this young woman's story until then, but what I heard has caused scenes of Army of Darkness flash through my mind since. My latest Google search for Natalie (thankfully not her real name), who's gotten bids on her virginity of up to 3.7 million nasty little dollars, didn't yield any new developments, but really, I'm okay with not knowing anymore details right now.

I found the striking statements Natalie made in defense of her actions incredulous. When asked why putting her virginity up for auction did not objectify her in her mind, she compartmentalized the issue, giving allowance for objectification only in the context of selling her virginity--she fully wants to be treated as a person otherwise. If the issue were eating habits, I'd find this funny. Instead, here is a woman who first is pathetically naive and second has the same good sense as a piece of meat carpet.

So, Miss Dylan wants people to treat her like an object in a context that suits her and then treat her as a person in another context when that suits her. Hm. It's unfortunate that she said that she intends the money to pay for graduate school, because admissions administrators probably won't like Miss Dylan to treat them with such disrespect. Future employers of businesses that don't deal in the buying and selling of the human body probably won't like being treated with such disrespect. And any good guy out there worth marrying will definitely dislike being treated with such disrespect. One does not and cannot control another in this way, beginning with the situation at hand. If Miss Dylan thinks that money will be enough to control the 'winner' of her auction and everyone in the world that comes after him, I sincerely fear for her in the most anxious way.

The reality of the matter is that one can never divorce personhood from the body. Why not? Because if we could, rape victims--hey, any victim of violence--could never seek legal reparations against their perpetrators. Any defense attorney would argue that victims weren't persons at the time of the crime. This side of death, there is no such thing as a personless body, at least if you're not a fetus and especially if you are a woman. We can thank the U.S. Supreme Court and Planned Parenthood for nailing that one down.

Way to go, Miss Dylan. Your brilliant rationalizations have pushed womanhood backwards. In a breath, you have turned females into objects...again.

(Why the Army of Darkness imagery? "Gimme some sugar, baby...")