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New Method of Creating Stem Cell Lines, Same Old Bullshit Opposition
2006.08.24 (Thu) 15:14
As all of our readers are presumably aware, the debate over what some call the "morality" of stem cell research has been a hot topic over the past few years. Despite the fact that there are plenty of embryos that are discarded (as in, "thrown away with the leftovers from the embryologists' dinner") for reasons having nothing to do with stem cell research, the religious right has vehemently argued that it is wrong to destroy embryos. What's their alternative plan for these embryos? They have no fucking idea, obviously. They certainly aren't lining up their wives and daughters as vessels in which to implant the clumps of cells to try for that 1 in 2 (more or less) chance at bearing a child — so apparently throwing the embryos out is more in line with God's Plan™ than using them for important medical research.
And while we firmly believe that the current methods of creating stem cell lines should be used, it's also good to see that scientists are working on alternative methods that, whether intentionally or not, attempt to sidestep these so-called "moral dilemmas." As reported on MSNBC:
[Dr. Robert] Lanza's method, employed on mouse cells last year by his company, is derivative of a diagnostic technique used in in vitro fertilization known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). In order to test embryos thought to be at risk for serious genetic defects, PGD removes a single cell, or blastomere, from a couple's embryo and examines it in a lab for irregularities. If determined to be healthy, the embryo can then, in many cases, be implanted into a woman's uterus and is able to regenerate the lost cell and continue developing. In practice, Lanza's technique would take a blastomere from an embryo donated for PGD, allow it to divide, and use the new cells to create stem-cell lines while sending one of the cells off for genetic diagnosis.
As part of many in vitro fertilization procedures, a single cell is removed from each tiny embryo in order to test for genetic disorders. And if the tests produce no sign of abnormalities, the group of remaining cells — the rest of the embryo — is implanted into a woman's uterus where it will hopefully develop into a baby. This is already done today as part of in vitro. The new wrinkle added is that the cell removed for testing is allowed to divide once, creating one cell for the tests, and another cell to harvest for the creation of a new stem cell line. So the net result — both to the woman in question and to the clump of cells — is the same. Surely that's no problem, right? Who could possibly oppose this? Oh, right — the fucking religious nutbags.
Meanwhile, hard-line opponents of stem cell science argue that the technique solves nothing, because even the single cell removed by the new approach could theoretically grow into a full-fledged human. Some also object over the possibility the procedure could harm the embryo in an unknown way.
Even the single cell removed could develop into a full-fledged human? What the fuck?! Next, they'll try to stop us from masturbating lest we waste a handful of sperm!
Seriously, this position is asinine. The only way that this one cell could develop into a human (one separate from the one who was and still would be developing already as part of the in vitro process) is if we used it in human cloning. Of course, that's also "immoral" according to these same people, so to them, the chances of this one cell developing into a new human should be nil. And yes, the removal of one cell could have an impact on the development of the embryo — but that's a risk that would-be parents already take as part of their voluntary in vitro process. This new step adds no more risk to the already accepted process. Where's the problem? What would they have us do? Not extract the cell for testing in the first place? Not engage in any in vitro fertilization at all? Who would make such idiotic statements? Oh, right — the fucking religious nutbags.
Though the new procedure may satisfy the president's objections to stem cell research, it does not meet the ethical standards of the Roman Catholic church, which opposes both PGD and in vitro fertilization.
In short, the fucking-religious-nutbag position is that no one should do anything that interferes with God's Plan™ for procreation. No birth control, no emergency contraception, no abortions, no in vitro or other fertility treatments, no testing for genetic disorders, no masturbation, and no sex that isn't meant to produce offspring. Nothing will satisfy these fucks short of a full-on Christian theocracy. No new method of creating stem cells will make them happy, because they can't get past their asinine, ill-founded, delusional beliefs. Seriously, scientists could somehow develop a way to harvest human stem cells from fucking banana daiquiris, and these fucks would probably still raise moral objections to the process. (Which makes one wonder: are their objections really about human life and über-judgmental ethics, or just a basic opposition to any forward scientific progress?)
Look, it's quite simple. These people are welcome to their beliefs, and they're welcome to live their lives in accordance with the teachings of a poorly written, moldy old piece of propaganda. But they cannot be allowed to force the rest of us to subscribe to their bullshit dogma. Either we call this out for the bullshit that it is, or we continue to slide back into the dark ages.
So if we can't satisfy these zealots under any circumstances, why bother looking into alternative methods like this one? Well, what we can hope for is that the more rational opponents of stem cell research begin to see that those who still oppose procedures like this one are just fucking insane. And if we can convince those on the fence that they don't want to be lumped in with the bible-humping (not a typo) fanatics, maybe we'll start to get somewhere.
Don't get us wrong — we're willing to bet that this method of creating stem cell lines is less efficient and more costly than the traditional methods, and we firmly believe that we shouldn't have to explore alternatives like this in order to pacify a group of idiots who, quite frankly, will never be pacified no matter what we do (banana daiquiri procedures included). But the more we expose these extremists as the raving, frothing lunatics that they are, the better our chances will be of shaking free of their influence and getting on with the business of scientific progress. And, hey — we're all for that.
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[ Filed under: % Civil Liberties % Religion % Science & Technology ]
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