UK stem cell controversy over human-animal hybrids

From a public and media point of view, the cloning/stem cell debate has been and gone in Australia, with legislation allowing such research passing both houses of Parliament in December. In the months leading up to the vote in the Senate, I wrote a number of times on this blog about my thoughts, and sought the views of the public. I also got myself some negative media by mentioning that I wasn’t 100% certain that I had done the right thing in voting for it – which probably wouldn’t have been noticed except for the unexpected situation that my vote made the difference between the legislation passing or failing.

Along the way, I moved an amendment in the Senate which resulted in the law in Australia prohibiting the use of animal eggs in creating embryo clones for use in stem cell research. Both ‘sides’ of the debate – those dead against embryonic stem cells and those unquestioningly for it – supported my amendment, although I assume this was as much for tactical reasons as anything else.

A controversy has now broken out in the UK around the same issue of whether animal eggs should be used in cloning. I’ve found it interesting to see this debate playing out in the UK compared to Australia in the lead up to the vote in our Parliament.

Embryonic stem cell research in the UK is regulated and licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). The current law in the UK allows the HFEA to issue a licence allowing research on cloned embryos produced in animal eggs. However, having received two applications for this type of research, HFEA has decided not to issue any licences in this area until there is further public debate and examination of the issues involved, which they say “are unique and different from mainstream human embryo research.” These stories in The Times and on Salon give some more detail and reactions.

In Australia, the big question in the public and political debate was whether to allow the creation of embryos for experimentation through cloning.  Whether animal eggs could be used to do this, rather than just human eggs, was a subset of the main question and this didn’t get much genuine debate on it’s own merits, apart from the ‘Frankenbunny’ type of headlines and commentary from opponents (which frankly I think more harm than good to their cause).  

In the UK, the regulatory authority has now decided there should be more debate and scrutiny of the specific issues involved in using animal eggs for this activity before going ahead with it.  In Australia, the proposal to allow the use of animal eggs was one of fifty-four recommendations contained in the Lockhart Review which examined the whole stem cell/cloning question.  It was basically proposed in order to reduce the need to rely on human eggs for conducting this type of research, although there was some concern that the potential of the so-called ‘yuk factor’ risked reducing public support for the research if it involved created embryos with animal eggs. 

When I was deciding whether I would move an amendment to the law in this area, I was influenced by statements from leading Australian scientists who were supporters of embryonic stem cell research. For example, Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Jim Peacock, commented on the Lockhart Review recommendation that:

… animal eggs could be used for some of the research so that fewer human eggs would be required. Many scientists think that using a nucleus and egg cell from different species complicates the research. Most scientists regard this particular recommendation to be of little importance.

Professor Bob Williamson, a stem cell researcher from Melbourne University said:

… in contrast to the great importance of permitting the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer into human enucleated eggs in culture, the use of animal eggs in this way is not critical for scientific progress. Indeed, using more than one species could make the interpretations of some experiments more difficult.

In the UK in the lead up to the decision by the HFEA, there was a lot of concern expressed publicly by scientists that HFEA might simply rule out all together the use of animal eggs in cloning. A group of 45 scientists, academics and politicians wrote a letter of concern to The Times, which reported that:

Patients with incurable crippling diseases may be denied the first effective treatments because of government plans to outlaw the creation of “human-animal” embryos. The proposed ban on fusing human DNA with animal eggs is an affront to thousands of Britons suffering from conditions such as motor neuron disease and Alzheimer’s, leading scientists said yesterday.

This BBC report said

scientists say using human-animal mixes rather than human eggs to get the stem cells makes sense because human eggs are in short supply, plus the process is less cumbersome and yields better results.

This healthcare provider website reported that:

The UK risks losing its reputation for pioneering stem cell research if the government goes ahead with plans to ban research which uses animal-human hybrid embryos, according to a large number of scientists. Research using hybrid embryos is thought to be vital in the quest to find better treatments and cures for a variety of mental health afflictions, including Alzheimer’s disease and Huntingdon’s disease.

This backgrounder piece in The Independent outlines some general information and a few different perspectives. Among it is a statement that “a major report on stem-cell research in 2000 by a group of high-level experts led by Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, concluded: “The use of eggs from a non-human species to carry a human cell nucleus was not a realistic or desirable solution to the possible lack of human eggs for research or subsequent treatment.”

It looks to me like the political side of the debate in the UK will play out similar to the Australian debate – a lot of strident assertions by both sides, but not a lot of listening. The Times has taken an approach broadly in favour of such research, but I thought the point made in their editorials on the controversy have relevance no matter what your view on the topic.

There is no question of giving life to chimeras, but the public must be informed about controversial research and be at the centre of an evolving debate. Without this, all scientific research, especially into human life, may be seen as threatening our deepest beliefs and values.

When scientists clearly explain what they are actually doing, the mass of the public supports them. …. The Government’s independent regulator for IVF treatment and embryo research has set a good example: to research and consult before rushing in to legislate. That is scientific method. That is the democratic way.

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32 Comments

  1. Mr. Barlett,

    Your characterization of the cloning/stem cell debate as “been and gone” is an example of why I am suspicious of “progressives.” How could any true “progressive” be under the notion that an issue could have played out and then been settled upon in a vigorous democracy?

    It has perplexed me how those that support cloning/stem cell research, given the belief that such research has the “potential” to save lives, are in many cases for a woman’s “right” to choose? Afterall, an anti-abortion stand would undoubtedly have the “potential” to save lives. Many, many lives!

    But it seems to me that the way around this inconsistency is to once again dehumanize that which is being aborted or experimented upon. Think of the irony though…? This “thing” that is being experimented on is going to “potentially” save a fellow human, but it is not worthy of human consideration itself.

  2. Yes, I think the animals eggs should be used, particularly now that I know they can be collected from the abattoir without any additional suffering.

    The waiting list for human donor eggs for infertile couples is already 7 years long.

    thordaddy:

    A hybrid clone does not pass muster as a normal human embryo. It couldn’t be allowed to grow.

    If leftover frozen human embryos aren’t put to some other use, they will eventually deteriorate and/or be discarded.

    I fully support medical research that will end or ameliorate human suffering.

  3. Mr Thordaddy

    your (mis)characterisation of my opening sentence is an example of how your views seem to be shaped around your own prejudices against whatever or whoever you perceive to be ‘progressive’ – and then launching prefabricated criticisms based on your own misconceptions.

    Firstly, I said the debate has been settled “from a public and media point of view” – I’m the one raising it here, so it’s hardly ‘settled’ in the context of this post. If I didn’t think people should talk about it ever again, I’d hardly write about it, let alone in a way that raises the points that I have.

    Secondly, there was a long debate, a bunch of inquires and a final vote on legislation – which is a reasonable shorthand definition of ‘settled’ for the moment. I’ve detected no sign at all of any public agitation to reverse it, but no doubt the issue will arise more prominently again over time as the research starts to occur and the next review happens.

    In my view, the inability of so many opponents of embryonic stem cell research to do anything other than run it as an anti-abortion argument was a key factor why they lost the public and parliamentary debate in Australia. People are entitled to hold those beliefs, but if they insist on trying to define this debate solely through that framework, they will be unlikely to receive majority public support.

    Of course, my post wasn’t about that, it was about the debate around the use of animal eggs – the general cloning and stem cell posts were months ago, so I should delete my comment for being off-topic, but then I’d have to delete Thordaddy too and that would appear churlish.

  4. I am disappointed about the lack of visitors here,so far,and my thoughts may appear off subject because I think the scientist are putting one over all of us.I ll just go back to the Senators post to find the relevant points.I think,I can make this point because it is fairly obvious one…the scientists agreed with the Senator onboth sides of the argument about the principle,not knowing where exactly the research was going.Since the research,because it isnt a linear result,some results have made for a reappraisal.But what isnt being stated is the uncertainty of the scientific experiment itself as a series,which may not accord with anything yet,until they find ways to theoretically describe what they can form as a sort of result.in other words I think they are stalling for time,and the next rush of support.That is the research itself creates personal and other uncertainties unadressed by debate alone.And research in other areas of science could mean it is a costly process of kudo seeking,with no where to go..I can name a number of certainties already researched,and under review.I think these scientist are playing on peoples obvious problem of finding the subject difficult.and well,if it reminds you of the medical researchers before,sometime,trust your own judgement.

  5. Mr. Bartlett,

    You say in another post,

    However, I will need to be convinced there are good reasons not to support the legalising of SCNT.

    I believe I can give you 2 reasons not to support SCNT.

    The first reason would be that there is no scientific evidence that SCNT has ANY medical benefit.

    The second reason you should not support it is because you support a woman’s “right” to choose. This makes it seem as if put popularity over principle?

    This discussion seems to revolve around the inevitability of SCNT and all its wonderful cures. Perhaps those scientists that Australia “lost” to California will in the end be a net benefit for the taxpayers of Australia and just one more state boondoggle undertaken by the liberals in the California legislature?

    The reason you want to detach this issue from the abortion issue is simple. It shows you to be inconsistent in your principles.

    There is ONLY one rationale for SNCT and that is its “potential” to save and extend lives. But this is exactly what an anti-abortion stance would accomplish with far greater certainty than cures from SCNT.

    So the question is whether you are genuine in your desire to save “potential” lives or not?

  6. Thordaddy says “So the question is whether you are genuine in your desire to save “potential” lives or not?”

    No the question is whether you are capable of actually comprehending what I have written, or are just determined to overlay your pre-determined arguments, regardless of what I actually say.

    Once again you have unilaterally decided and asserted what my beliefs are, and then inferred they are not even genuine. Seeing you already know what I think and believe – and that I’m not genuine in what in say anyway, there’s clearly no point having a discussion with you.

    I am even less interested in importing the pre-packaged ideological talking points of the US abortion debate onto my site. Abortion is legal in Australia and this reality is supported by the majority of Australians. People are free to hold oppsing views, as many do, but to halt signficant medical research solely because of the anti-abortion views of a minority when both abortion and embryonic stem cell research are already legal would be totally irrational.

    You have again inadvertently reinforced my core point. There are logical concerns related specifically to SCNT which, had they been given more consistent and stronger focus in public debate, could well have generated a different legislative outcome. The blinkered insistance on using the SCNT issue as a proxy for the abortion debate meant that (a) the concerns specific to SCNT got little airing, and (b) most people assumed that SCNT was just a variation on the longstanding abortion debate, and determined their position accordingly. By creating the appearance that there was nothing unique about the SCNT issue (let alone the animal egg isue), the anti-abortion crowd just ensured the minority position they are in on abortion issues was transferred to the SCNT issue.

    Perhaps this blinkered approach shows you are not genuine in your desire to save “potential” lives, but are just seeking advantage in wider ideological contests?

  7. As you note the vote has passed the world hasn’t ended and I would have to wonder whyn you did choose to give this O2 again, given the obvious difficukties some posters have in trying to get over there preconceveid predjudices. Its an open invitation to crank up the engine once agian – get ready for Louise. Perhaps, like me, you sectrelty like goading them inot action.

    It would seem the only reason after reading the post was / is a post / amendment justification for your position on animal cells.

    Which i guess is fair enough given its your blog.

  8. Not every post has to have a reason behind it, Ken.

    Sometimes I’m just interested in something and put it up here in case other people might be interested in it, or so people get an idea of what interests me.

    I am probably more interested in this issue than most people, partly because I ended up devoting so much more time and thought and research to it than I originally expected I would. Perhaps knowing I would have sunk the whole thing if I’d decided differently also means I remain more interested in how it plays out – feeling more personally responsible for it and all that.

    I’m not sure people would see this UK stuff as serving to justify my position on the animal egg thing, but anyway.

    However, whatever other rationale I may have for this or any other post, you can be assured it is not because I enjoy goading people. Occasionally in a weak moment or when in an especially bad mood I may do that via a comment, but I don’t think I’ve ever put up a post for that reason. Normally those sort of responses just irritate me and make me question the whole point of seeking opinion and considering other views.

    One of my New Year resolutions (which I implement in a staggered fashion, so I won’t start on this one until next week) is to just let all those through to the keeper. You can remind me of that next time I fail to so.

  9. Mr. Bartlett,

    I find your response inadequate. If I have mischaracterized your stance then you should feel compelled to correct me unambiguously.

    You asked for some reasons as to WHY you shouldn’t support SCNT. I proceeded to answer your call and gave 2 reasons. Feel free to argue as to why those reasons are inadequate.

    They are as follows…,

    1. SCNT may be “science,” but it has shown NO medical benefit and may never do so. This could mean hundreds of millions to billions of taxpayer’s money wasted.

    2. The only rationale for SCNT is its “potential” to save and extend lives, but an anti-abortion stance accomplishes the very same “principle.” But, you are for a woman’s “right” to choose and so we see that your desire to save “potential” lives has qualifications.

    The question that logically follows is how genuine you are in your desire to save “potential” lives if you are for a woman’s “right” to choose?

    This presents us with a odd situation. SCNT is highly speculative or what scientists like to call theoretical. So you seem to choose wishful thinking over commonsense as an anti-abortion stance is guaranteed to save a “potential” life.

    Please help me understand your position if you could spare the time?

  10. No, I didn’t ask for reasons why I shouldn’t support SCNT – certainly not in this post. In response to your reasons:

    #1 you could make this argument at the outset of every piece of medical and scientific research ever done. It could always end up being a waste of time and money – although there’s a fair chance that useful things are learned along the way even if it doesn’t directly generate a treatment or cure. In addition, a wide range of world leading scientists don’t normally try to spend their careers promoting something that has no chance at all of succeeding.

    #2: the only rationale for all medical treatments (and the research that seeks to find them) is to save or extend lives (or improve quality of life). Those opposing SCNT research have to provide arguments that this particular research has something so wrong about it that it should be prohibited from going ahead. Running anti-abortion arguments is not sufficient, because abortion is already legal and will stay that way, as will other embryonic stem cell research. Keep campaigning against abortion if you like, but that’s no reason to stop SCNT while abortion continues unmodified.

    I don’t think I can say this any more clearly so i won’t say it again – all you do by running your ‘reason’ #2 is make people who are unsure about SCNT think that if they vote against it they are showing support for anti-abortion campaigners. If they are not anti-abortion (i.e. one of the majority), or don’t see a medical research issue as one which should be determined by pretending it is a de-facto referendum on abortion, your argument will make them far more likely to support SCNT. I can only assume this consequence does not actually concern you.

  11. thordaddy:

    A stance against abortion on the part of one politician is unlikely to change the law.
    Even if it could, it is not “guaranteed” to save a potential life – but maybe end a few more.

    If abortion became illegal again, desperate women would go to backyard abortionists, just as they did before. They could die of haemorrhage or infection, or become completely infertile.

    I don’t like abortion either – only in exceptional circumstances.

    SCNT will never show any results if it is never given a fair trial by diverse groups of scientists.

    In the early days of IVF, people were afraid of the new technologies. It was hard for them to accept that life could begin outside of the human body. Now they mostly accept it as the norm.

  12. thordaddy says:

    coral,

    There are two basic orientations for those that are interested in this debate.

    I support stem cell research/SCNT because…?

    I oppose stem cell research/SCNT because…?

    Of these two fundamental orientations are two general answers that are nonetheless nonexclusive.

    These answers are:

    I support stem cell research/SCNT because it has the “potential” to save lives and avert one from the ravages of terrible diseases.

    I oppose stem cell research/SCNT because it destroys “potential” human life with intent.

    So it becomes quite clear why those that support stem cell research/SCNT want to detach the debate from the abortion. Likewise, it is clear why those that oppose stem cell research/SCNT believe abortion is a fundamental part of the debate and cannot be discussed until more fundamental issues are resolved.

    Mr. Bartlett seems to suggest that because the abortion debate is politically settled then the only debate left is how far we take stem cell research and SCNT experimentation.

    But this does not resolve one’s personal debate if your support for stem cell research/SCNT reflects the mindset above. If one really desires saving “potential” lives then isn’t saving those “potential” lives NOW to take precedent over saving “potential” future lives based on science that is still highly speculative and theoretical?

    Right now there are hundreds of women around the world getting ready to have an abortion. This means there are hundreds of “potential” lives to be saved RIGHT NOW!

    In this context and in comparison with one’s support of stem cell research/SCNT, does not an anti-abortion represent a MUCH greater likelihood, i.e. guarantee, in saving “potential” lives RIGHT NOW?

    This calls into question the genuine desire of those that support stem cell research/SCNT under the notion that it will save “potential” lives. Is this believable with a pro-abortion stance?

  13. thordaddy:

    I understand what you are saying, but I don’t think Andrew is a supporter of abortion solely on the whim/decision of the mother. Perhaps he’d like to answer you further on this himself.

    Politicians are supposed to be representatives of the people and, believe me, most people don’t care very much what happens, unless it’s affecting them. They think primarily of themselves and suit their own convenience.

    We live in a laissez faire society, where almost anything goes. Most of the population is atheist.

    In Queensland, we have the Family Planning Association teaching sex education in our schools. When I asked them what kind of morality they were teaching, they said, “None. This has to come from you.”

    I’m afraid your attitude is a bit too black and white for me. Just as there are different degrees of murder/manslaughter as assessed by the courts, there are different issues of reproduction that one needs to take into account.

    In recent times, there have been some excellent breakthroughs using stem cell research to help those who are already living among us.

    Yes, you could save “potential” lives RIGHT NOW by banning abortion, but how are you going to deal with Me Syndrome and hard core Atheists?

    How are you going to get the message across that abortion is not the right choice in most cases, when we have psychologists convincing people that they may do anything they choose, with laws that support that idea?

    I don’t believe in choosing between 2 fundamentalist orientations. As you said yourself, they are “nonetheless non-exclusive”.

    I personally don’t need to detach the stem cell debate from abortion. I try to weigh matters up across a broad spectrum.

  14. Thordaddy didnt pull any punches as an American here,and as hard as it is to respect that because it doesnt seem to be a individual wrestling with moral and scientific issues,I,noted the exclamation marks around potential,and that doesnt necessarily mean that it is a fundamentalist position,but allows for deeper sets of understandings.I also think he wasnt trying to be offensive,but,maybe genuinely disturbed that what he sees as a simple proposition just doesnt seem to meet some criteria.So if you feel your morality isnt really questionable,but by necessity you are under pressure,at what point is having a scientific view become separable from ones sense of morality? That is Thordaddys position,as I read it!.Thordaddy explains himself,and by exclamation marks is he building a useful bridge,maybe the bridge isnt possible to cross ,because it implies accepting the basic proposition of morality about abortion.I just find it very difficult to accept the premise that to be pro abortion needs to be in some way entirely faulted as reasoning.And what follows about stem cells make for another roadwork that will show promise,but will it,umm,deliver?The question of wether it is right to ,to have a right to abortion etc,is not entirely for me at least,full of strains that, lurch into somebody single or plural are wrong or right.It is even possible and right, that somebody who knows they are the result of rape,and enjoying life would and could ask what essentially is the difference between me and a potential for life or cure?Answer!Because your here and you are no embarassment to you or us in asking the questions and finding your own way.I would avoid the direct question of wether the person thinks rape is……………………..Just one of many potentials,which doesnt make a wrong or right answer,but the selected potential may have a dilemma or two to face…

  15. philip and coral,

    I see irony in the research of stem cell/SCNT while many scientists remain, shall we say, agnostic about what constitutes a human “being.” They have left this very important issue to the philosophical realm as they nonetheless attempt to manipulate human genes at the cellular level in order to enhance human “beings.”

    How can scientists procede to tell us that which they have self-confessed to not knowing? If you can’t tell me what a human “being” is then how can you tell me that SCNT will cure so and so’s Alzheimers?

    When all that has been accomplished in stem cell/SCNT research is an understanding of basic components and the ability to substitute nulcei with almost no knowledge of how this would become a particular cell in the most sensitive area of the body and then do what is required to “cure” that disease then one has the obligation to be critical.

    This criticism is only furthered when one has grown up in a society where scientists are often lauded as conveying the truth about life, nature and the universe, but seem in many ways blind to the empirical evidence that stands before them in order to help them come to the truth about what defines a human “being.” Technology is collapsing the argument for abortion and it has now become in many ways nothing more than an economic issue.

    Yet, we are not looking at stem cell/SCNT research through an economic perspective. Rather, we are looking at it through, mainly, a moral and scientific perspective. I see incredible contradiction in this.

    It makes no economic sense to create cures for the mass number of baby-boomers that will fall to these degenerative disease. The shear number and extended lifespans will put an even greater burden on our Western systems than already forseen.

    It makes moral sense only if one is true to the idea of wanting to save “potential” lives. This means “potential” must be unambiguous and without qualification.

  16. continued

    And on the scientific front, there is mass confusion and denial. This is what I was getting at above.

    We are debating about using animal eggs when far more important debates are left unresolved from a moral, economic and scientific perspective.

    I believe that one should be required to define a human “being” in order to then proceed to research and experiment on what could be perhaps be another human “being” by one’s own admission/omission.

    Some will argue that scientists have no obligation to moral or economic arguments. They must be true to the empirical evidence. This is where technology is undoubtedly collapsing the argument for abortion because what is a “human being” is becoming far more clear as the exquisite empirical evidence pours forward with stem cell/SCNT research helping lead the way.

  17. Some good points there Thordaddy,but on later reading I find some unclear outcomes.Look,I am a baby boomer and obviously life quality is important…I agree somewhere with you about the end result of all this science on stem cells…it does seem hocus pocus.But,again, the abortion matter is only in the hands of practising medicoes dealing with the difficulties of that.I do not think that they are unfeeling,when it comes to the determinism of what is life.I can also agree with,how, you see a need for some sort of comprehensive approach,but then again,I am not tied down to agnosticism,I prefer witticism..I sometimes consider myself a living abortion…and apologies to mum and dad no longer here.Because if you had a brain that ,umm, worked at the stage of abortion,what fun it would be for the rest of the population,to see this side show circus performer..It cuts deep both ways pro and anti abortion.I would perhaps not be so critical of working experimental scientists because apart from the material they work with,they could still be spooked by it all, when all the comparisons that can be made are made.I believe in a herbalist approach to such matters,caringly though,whilst accepting people like you would find herbal use re abortion another disillusioning prospect.I will not judge you on that..I just simply agree with you the medico researchers are open to criticism on a number of grounds,and seem preoccupied with their own tools.I would like to see herbal matters brought into being re stem cells.I cannot see, what the problem could be say.. with rosemary,the herbal can be felt working away,even as a sort of penetrative in shampoos.I also think the dominance of medic research is upping the ante re number of abortions rather than simpler processes of the body that do not lead to the state of birthable growth at a later point,and so simple that even The Pope of Rome would be unconcerned in a biological sense..so dickheads and partners dont have a moral problem.

  18. Ethics Committees control what scientists are able to do. They comprise, among others, representatives of the RSPCA, leaders of various religious groups, and lay people.

    thordaddy:

    I think it is both unethical and immoral to place an economic value on human suffering when you are discussing stem cell research.

    Scientists know very well what a human being is, and I wouldn’t agree that technology is collapsing the argument either for or against abortion.

    This is naive stuff, which has its birthplace in tunnel vision.

    You are behind the times when it comes to real breakthroughs in stem cell research.

  19. philip,

    As I delve deeper into this issue what becomes clear is that stem cell/SCNT research rests solely on a political argument. It does not rest solidly on moral, economic or scientific grounds. I think this stems (no pun intended) primarily from the fact that abortion is in much the same manner rested solely on a political argument. We have political ideology masquerading as “truth.”

    What exactly is the moral, economic and scientific argument for stem cell/SCNT research or the abortion of the very thing that is required for its “potential” success?

    I see the advocating for stem cell/SCNT research as an attempt to justify and rationalize abortion as it lacks or is sufficiently inadequate in moral, economic and scientific foundations. This seems very much analogous to advocating for gay “marriage” in order to rationalize and justify overt homosexuality.

    Where’s the morality in the research…? It has none as science does not deal in morality.

    Where’s the economic argument for the research…? There is little evidence as private investors have not been swayed by wishful thinking. And making society pay for a whole lot of aging and degenerating baby-boomers after ushering in mommy’s “right” to kill seems a stretch. There are larger cross-generational issues involved that necessarily link abortion and this particular research that must be considered.

    And then on the science front, what can be said…? If scientists are claiming to unlocking the mysteries at the human DNA and cellular levels then no excuse can remain in NOT defining “human beings” unless such a thing remains beyond scientific explanation. Such a scientific concession damages credibility in said research and renders the reigning political argument much more untenable.

  20. Coral,

    You should visit a few evolution sites and see if you can get an answer for what a human being is or when a human life begins. I think you are being naive in your assessment of the sciences expecially in area of human biology.

    Stem cells have been known to exist for over 45 years. SCNT science has moved no further than exchanging identical parts at the cellular level. This would be somewhat analagous to taking one car engine and putting it in another car that had its engine removed and starting it. The only difference is that we are pretty knowledgeable about a car engine while we are still very ignorant about why or how a stem cell evolves into that which is required for possible “cures.”

    On the economic argument, one needs to have a broader view of the situation. We in America are about to happen upon a large number of baby-boomers falling ill to many terrible, degenerating diseases. It is certainly wise to talk about the economic repercussions as the children of the baby-boomers (myself) must provide and raise our own children. There is also a larger more transcendent argument that involves the ushering in of abortion as a “right” by the baby-boomer generation and the growing burden such a shortsighted decision put on their children. If the baby-boomers were willing to sacrifice “us” (post-Roe vs. Wade for which I am a part of) at their convenience then why not return the favor by recognizing our committment to our children and their well-being and sacrificing themselves to the moral, economic and scientific argument for euthanasia?

  21. There are no break throughs in science,Coral,the results have to comply with a theoretical proposition,unless the experiment is not going to lead greatly to a theory,but is just about determining some basics, that doesnt need a costly and time consuming justification.A scientist,can also be freaked out by matters abortion without being involved in that.I dont think you are much better than Thordaddy in sometimes pointing out peoples failures.The scientific description for work in progress certainly isnt break through.And I do not think,that, Thordaddy in his challenges is being tunnel visioned,but,putting up some very unpoular thoughts in his own way.He could be open minded,about it all,our characters cannot be fully determined by what becomes our thoughts ,on some topics in print.I will not harass you on this summary of the printed.Just maybe,he is sticking to the limits of number of characters per blog allowed..and doesnt necessarily in real life opine in this way,that reminds me of stuntsmanship.

  22. Thordaddy says “I see the advocating for stem cell/SCNT research as an attempt to justify and rationalize abortion”.

    Thank you for crystalising so succinctly why you have been so incapable of acknowledging or addessing the arguments put forward by others, Mr Thordaddy.

    SCNT and stem cell research are not about abortion and have nothing to do with abortion. There is no pregnancy involved, so there can be no abortion. If SCNT was banned in Australia it would not result in one single less abortion.

    SCNT and stem cell research is also not about euthanasia. Nor is it about about evolution. It is about conducting a credible and serious search research for cures and treatments for serious ailments – something which in most people’s language would be seen as a moral AND a scientific argument.

    As I said above in pointing out the absurdities in your arguments the first two times, I am not interested in having the pre-packaged ideological talking points of the US abortion debate imported onto my site. You have completely ignored the corrections and rebuttals I made to your earlier assertions, so I presume you will ignore this one also. However, as stated above, SCNT and stem cell research has nothing to do with abortion, so any future comments about abortion will be deleted as being off-topic.

  23. Mr. Bartlett,

    The Nazis thought they were “conducting a credible and serious search research (sic) for cures and treatments for serious ailments.” They also thought it would bring forward a superior Aryan race. Few agree that their eugenics program had or has legitimacy. This is not to suggest a relation, but only to compare similar arguments made in pursuit of “science” utilizing what many agree to be human beings.

    What exactly differentiates stem cell/SCNT research from a program of eugenics?

    As I pointed out above, there are NOT credible arguments for stem cell/SCNT research on a moral, economic or scientific front.

  24. Repeatedly stating something that is false does not make it true.

    Stem cell research is not about abortion, euthanasia, evolution OR eugenics.

    It is about curing disease, it is not about breeding anything.

  25. thordaddy and phil:

    I agree with Andrew.

    I will now give an economic argument for stem cell research. Let’s take Parkinson’s Disease, a debilitating neurological disease which normally occurs in the 50+ age group. Three out of 4 sufferers are men.

    If a cure is found, it will add up to 20 years onto the working lives of those affected – that’s taxes being paid, and welfare NOT being received.

    In recent times, there have been breakthroughs affecting a number of neurological diseases. In one, a dog was cured of motor neurone disease, with potential to benefit humans.

    To say that I know little about human reproductive biology is a gross error of judgement.

    I’ve worked in a hospital, university and with medical researchers from a variety of disciplines. I currently volunteer in a nursing home, where the sufferers of many debilitating diseases reside.

    For 6 years, I was treated with assisted reproductive technologies to overcome infertility. During this time, I read reams of associated research and treatment protocols.

    Thordaddy, your post #21 smacks of an interest in euthanasing your elders to suit your own convenience.

    I know what a human being is and where it starts. The naive person is you. I feel you need to broaden out your perspective and start thinking a bit more about your fellow man/woman.

  26. coral,

    Mr. Bartlett has stated that stem cell/SCNT research is ONLY about “curing” diseases, although as pointed out earlier, NO diseases have been cured.

    Unfortunately, Mr. Bartlett has decided to narrow the discussion to that which is MERE speculation at this point.

  27. You really are extraordinarily dishonest, Mr Thordaddy, and/or you are incapable of even the most basic logical reasoning. I have never stated that “stem cell/SCNT research is ONLY about curing diseases”. Obviously curing diseases is one of its aims – only an imbecile would try to deny this – but I have never seen anyone say that is the sole thing it is about.

    What I have stated is that it is NOT about abortion, evolution, euthanisia or eugenics. That is not an exclusive list of all other things in the world, even if it seems to be the only things you are capable of talking about.

    Trying to keep discussion to the topic at hand is what usually happens on blogs. You should try it sometime.

  28. Mr. Bartlett,

    I don’t believe I’ve been anymore dishonest than the person that claimed stem cell/SCNT research has nothing to do with abortion, evolution, euthanasia or eugenics while censorsing a blog that showed how all of those topics tied into stem cell/SCNT research.

    Mr. Bartlett, please remember, you are attempting to limit this debate and now have attempted to smear the messenger.

    If you would kindly offer up some other topics in which stem cell/SCNT research stir debate, then please do? In fact, because you have called me “extraordinarily dishonest,” then I think you are obliged to do so.

  29. Sigh

    Deliberately ascribing a statement to someone that they didn’t say – as you did – is dishonest. I have not smeared you, I have simply described your behaviour for what it is.

    By contrast, expressing an opinion, may be wrong but in itself is not dishonest – apart from which my opinion is able to be clearly backed up by simple logic.

    When I put up a post about abortion, you can make comments about abortion. When the topic of the post is patently not about abortion, then to wilfully continue to argue about abortion is being off-topic. If you wish to reinterpret ‘being on-topic’ as ‘limiting debate’ you can, but it doesn’t alter the fact that you are being off-topic.

    For the final time, read the comment policy (and comply with it). If you continue to flagrantly flaunt it, I’ll delete all your comments, not just the off-topic ones on this post. Whilst I give a lot of leeway, everyone else has to comply with it, so it would be ufair not to make you do so too.

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