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        « This blog is hibernating | Main | Conservatives should stop Tesco killing Sunday »


        Simon C

        Says it all!


        Why has the embryo evolved into a child angel?


        Because that's what happens to embryos. Given time, food, water and good fortune (ie not to be born into a country where they are used for laboratory experiments) an embryo will become a newborn baby and then a child etc...

        As Professor Francis J Beckwith has>written:

        "A human being begins its existence at conception, which occurs when the male sperm and the female ovum combine; in other words, fertilization is a process that culminates in conception. The result is an entity called a zygote. It is a misnomer to refer to this entity as a “fertilized ovum,” because both ovum and sperm, which are genetically parts of their owners (mother and father, respectively), cease to exist at the moment of conception. For this reason, it may not even be correct to refer to the sperm and egg as “uniting,” for, as philosopher Robert Joyce points out, this “suggests that they remain and form a larger whole.” They are not like machine parts, which, when added together, form something larger though remaining identifiable parts; rather, as Joyce argues, “the nuclei of the sperm and ovum dynamically interact,” and “in so doing, they both cease to be. One might say they die together.”

        There is no doubt that the zygote is biologically alive, and, as the facts reveal, this life is an individual human life. First, the human conceptus, that which results from conception and begins as a zygote, is the sexual product of human parents. Insofar as it has human causes, therefore, the conceptus is human. Second, it is a human individual. The conceptus resulting from the union of a female ovum (which contains 23 chromosomes) and a male sperm (which contains 23 chromosomes), is a new, although tiny, individual with its own genetic code (with 46 chromosomes), which is neither its mother’s nor its father’s. The “genotype” — the inherited characteristics of an individual human being — is in place at conception, and it plays the same role in the human organism as it does in all living organisms: it has highly complex information that instructs the unfolding of the organism’s intrinsic potential."


        Thank you for the biology lesson. My point was that the man is presumably depicted as he was at the point of death. Why is the embryo not similarly depicted, i.e. as a ball of featureless cells? Unless, of course, the point being made is more an appeal to emotion than anything more substantial.

        Incidentally, I speak as one morally opposed to abortion (although not prepared to legislate to that effect). I just don't see the extension to stem cell research if the embryo is already dead. Why not make some good of a bad situation? Are you opposed to organ transplantation?


        I kind of understand the Bush compromise on embryo stem cell research - where existing embryo lines can be used for research - but oppose the deliberate breeding of embryos for experimentation and then destruction. Once we cross the line of saying that some human life can be experimented upon then we open the possibility that all human life can be misused in this way. First embryos, then six week old babies, then foetuses that are going to be aborted anyway, then disabled newborns, then PVS patients etc etc


        You know, and I know, that the slippery slope argument isn't a very good one here. People would never allow experimentation on living humans, in the same sense as with stem-cell research.

        As for using stem cells from already-aborted foetuses, why not? Is it not worth it to save a life, or several lives? There is no difference between this and organ transplantation, except in that you are effectively giving the nod to the current compromise position on abortion. If you think you'd be able to change the abortion laws in favour of an outright ban, you are sadly mistaken.


        The slippery slope argument couldn't be more relevant, Andrew. Peter Singer, who unbelievably holds a professorship in bioethics at the University of Princeton has already slipped hellishly down the slope.

        Please see here.


        You don't think it is the job of academics to explore the boundaries of knowledge and morality? Or perhaps that professorships should only be assigned to those who conform to your personal ethical standards?

        Tom Greeves

        'Incidentally, I speak as one morally opposed to abortion (although not prepared to legislate to that effect).'

        Andrew - it's not as though those of us who are morally opposed to abortion are afforded the luxury of not being involved, is it? The state is - on a massive scale - a provider of abortion. Would you be in favour of legislation to limit abortions to the private sector? If not, you are supporting the status quo, which sees pro-lifers compelled to fund abortion.

        Turning now to a broader issue - and no longer directing the argument at you, Andrew - it is breathtaking the frequency with which people say that moral views have no place in politics. How can they not have a place, when the mushrooming of the state has seen government have a hand in so many areas?

        If abortion is immoral, then how can it be right for the state to encourage it (through irresponsible literature and provision) and facilitate it (on demand, as anyone with any moral courage would concede is the reality)?


        I have no figures on the breakdown, but I imagine that many abortions are done privately already (indeed, a quick Google suggests it is about 20%) - so you may have a point here. Should it be available on the NHS - probably not. Are you confident that you could get it removed from the NHS - no chance.

        My reluctance to legislate is pure political strategy - it is a fight that cannot be won. I am not saying the moral views have no place in politics - all laws are essentially moral views of particular issues.


        The fight to protect unborn children might not be winnable today but politicians could be using their bully pulpit role to start informing the public about the humanity of 'the foetus'. A policy of fully-informed consent would be one way forward.

        I missed this">">this 22nd June piece by Anne Morse but it is a very poignant reminder that 'leftover embryos' can become children if they're given the opportunity.


        Another good point on this is that many of the cells that have been used for embyonic stem cell research were aquired from fertility clinics. These embryos were taken from batches that were about to be destroyed. So i think that they are more morraly obligated to do research that could save lives than to let those embryos meet the same demise without any care in the world.


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