Ethics & Morality Archives

Adult Stem Cells: The Trend Continues

This article at Life News describes recent grants & prize money that went to stem cell research.  There is something to note about how the money way divvied up.

As noted in the earlier Lozier Institute study, the first round of grants under this category, in October, 2009, saw a marked departure by CIRM away from a funding preference for hESCR [human embryonic stem cell research] and towards adult and other non-embryonic stem cell research.

That pattern continues in the July 2012 round of grants. Of eight research projects selected, only one involved hESCs while two involved the use of fetal tissue. The others used ethically non-contentious adult stem cells or other non-embryonic approaches. Of the $150 million awarded, $48 million went to the hESC and fetal tissue projects; the remaining $102 million went to the ethically non-contentious adult stem cell and other non-embryonic projects.

Results are drawing the funding, not political hype, and the trend is away from embryonic stem cells.

    The Ethics of "After-birth Abortions", Part 2

    [Please click here for part 1, as this just picks up where that left off. Also, another blogger found the article again at a new URL on the same site. I'd searched using their advance search form with no success, but glad that it's back so people can read the whole thing.]

    The newborn and the fetus are morally equivalent

    The authors, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva,  start this section with their definition of personhood.

    Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life’. We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.

    Thus, to be a person, you have to know you’re a person and be able to value it. The state of not knowing, however, lasts quite a bit beyond newborn status. The authors, again, fail to address this. More than fail to, actually, they refuse to address it, as we shall see.

    Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life. Indeed, many humans are not considered subjects of a right to life: spare embryos where research on embryo stem cells is permitted, fetuses where abortion is permitted, criminals where capital punishment is legal.

    The equivalence here is somewhat flawed, not the least because they start to blur the moral right to life with the legal right to life. Further, they equate giving up your legal right to life (by, for example, murdering someone else) with a fetus or embryo being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Depending on your morals, all three examples have a moral right to life, it’s just in the last case it was actively forfeited.

    Read the rest of this entry

      The Ethics of "After-birth Abortions", Part 1

      Last Friday, I noted in my Friday Link Wrap-up "Medical "ethicists" are seriously arguing that post-birth newborns are ‘not persons’ and can ethically be "aborted". I also posted this article on Facebook, and one of my friends took me to task on it. He said that "sloppy agenda laden journalism" has misinterpreted their intent, and that "the researchers are attempting to provoke debate on the ethics of abortion, not the desirability to kill newborns."

      I’ve read the whole piece by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, and I come to the conclusion that, while their stated intent may not be to suggest that it is desirable to kill newborns, the result will be the same. The main problem I see is that, while they have their personal moral stances regarding how often and in what circumstances what they call "after-birth abortions" would take place, their stances would not be what others use to make their determination. Would they accept a gun manufacturer’s statement that "I don’t intend my product to kill innocent people"? Perhaps not, but it can be used that way, and abortion kills millions upon millions because they are merely inconvenient. The authors’ morals will not be used to put into practice their suggestions. Keep that in mind.

      (Note: While putting this blog post together, the article was removed from the Journal of Medical Ethics website. The link takes you to a "Not Found" page, and no amount of searching for title, text, or authors could find it. I’m not sure if it was taken down for some reason, or if, perhaps, only the most recent articles appear on the website. In any event, the article is no longer there. I’ll continue to look to see if it gets posted elsewhere.)

      (Second note: This is why I haven’t posted anything this week so far. I’ve been spending my time working on this.)

      Read the rest of this entry

        Friday Link Wrap-up

        In Canada, strip searches from possession of a deadly … crayon.

        Also from the Great White North, government intrusion into homeschool, saying that Christian parents can’t teach a Biblical view of homosexuality. Freedom of religion is being chipped away slowly enough that most don’t see it.

        If Obama is some post-racial president, why is he launching "African Americans for Obama"?

        Medical "ethicists" are seriously arguing that post-birth newborns are "not persons" and can ethically be "aborted".

        With all the religious implications of Obama’s policies, you’d think he’d have kept around his faith-based council for advice. Nope, they’ve just faded away.

        Movie reviewers of the liberal persuasion are all for anti-war, anti-military or pro-environmental message movies, but that idea gets thrown out when they disapprove of the message. Suddenly, it’s "propaganda".

        Scofflaw Democrats. "The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 further provides that if, for two years in a row, more than 45% of Medicare funding is coming from general revenues rather than Medicare taxes, the president must submit legislation to Congress to address the Medicare funding crisis. President Bush dutifully followed the law, but President Obama has ignored it for the last three years."

        Obama claims that we can’t drill our way out of the energy problem, and then, in the same speech, notes that domestic oil production is at it’s highest level in 8 years. Because we drilled! Can’t have it both ways, Mr. President, but the press will try to let you have it.

          Friday Link Wrap-up

          When the International Monetary Fund needs bailing out, from bailing out so many others, it’s time to seriously question the socialist policies of those it’s having to bail out.

          The Pope reminds Europe that moral failure usually precludes many other kinds of failure, eve economic.

          A page to bookmark when someone brings up the faulty idea that billionaires are running the Tea Party.

          Congress will investigate Planned Parenthood. About time.

          Meryl Yourish has a keen eye for news media bias against Israel and, coincidentally, a bias for Palestinians. The latest? A Palestinian man kills an American tourist (because he thought the American was Jewish, which he wasn’t). The AP headline only say the Palestinian man was convicted of "stabbing" the tourist. (Oh, and the tourist was a Christian who happened to be wearing a Star of David.)

          "Despite increases in gun sales, gun crimes continued to decrease in the United States for the fourth straight year in 2010, according to the FBI." This goes completely against the liberal narrative. The reality is likely closer to crime is down because of the increase in gun sales.

          "President Obama’s jobs bill is better than doing nothing in the face of a national crisis, but it won’t have much impact on unemployment." This incredibly foolish line begins a column trying to suggest Obama’s Stimulus Jr. should be bigger. First of all, how is wasting money on something that won’t do what it purports to do better than doing nothing? That’s how politicians have gotten us into this fiscal mess. Second, the answer is always more, more, more. And yet here we are anyway. How can more pounding our heads against the wall feel any better?

          And finally, a political cartoon (of sorts) of my own. Someone took a picture of tax protesters, and attempted a little irony by pointing out things around them paid for by taxes. But they missed the point entirely. Then point is… (Click for a larger version).

            Infanticide By Any Other Name

            I didn’t want to bury this post in a "Friday Link Wrap-up", so I’m forgoing that feature to focus on what Mark Steyn calls a "fourth trimester" abortion.

            Albert Mohler brings up a recent court decision in Canada where a mother was convicted of strangling her newborn baby and tossing him over the fence into a neighbor’s yard. To compound this horror, the Canadian justice system (and I use the term "justice" very loosely) decided she would not spend any time in jail. None. Here’s how the judge justified this.

            Justice Joanne Veit, whose name should now go down in legal and moral infamy, tied this woman’s act of infanticide to Canada’s lack of legal restrictions on abortion. The judge’s decision stated that “while many Canadians undoubtedly view abortion as a less than ideal solution to unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancy, they generally understand, accept and sympathize with the onerous demands pregnancy and childbirth exact from mothers, especially mothers without support.”

            She continued: “Naturally, Canadians are grieved by an infant’s death, especially at the hands of the infant’s mother, but Canadians also grieve for the mother.” She also stated that the Canadian approach is a “fair compromise of all the interests involved.”

            Two juries had found Effert guilty of second-degree murder, but an appeals court had reduced her conviction to infanticide.

            This is what comes from acceptance of a million abortions per year, and what comes from a judiciary far more concerned about feelings than laws. Mohler’s column notes that this slippery slope has been known to be coming for years now, but the Left has been deaf to the warnings.

            The ultimate insult is that Effert may actually spend time in jail, not for killing her baby, but for throwing the lifeless body into her neighbor’s yard. Kill your child and we’ll grieve with you, but litter? That’s over the line.

            I’ve heard those on the Left, including Christians, suggest that if you’re against abortion, just don’t have one. But life, even (especially) of the "least of these" is worth defending. Mohler closes by explaining why.

            Mark this well — the horrific logic of this judge’s decision will not remain in Canada. Indeed, it did not even start in Canada. Those arguments are already in place in the United States. If we will not defend life in the womb, eventually the dignity of every single human life is thrown over the fence.

              One Less Reason to Use Embryonic Stem Cells

              A new study says that adult cells induced to become like embryonic stem cells ("induced pluripotent stem cells") are very nearly identical to the embryonic ones.

              A study released Sunday shows embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells are almost identical.

              Since human IPS cells were first produced from mouse cells in 2006 and from human cells in 2007, it has been thought they were equivalent to embryonic stem cells, which are controversial because they are derived from human embryos.

              But new research, directed by Josh Coon, a UW-Madison associate professor of chemistry and biomolecular chemistry, shows the proteins in the two types of cells are almost identical.

              Stem cells have the ability to develop into any of the different types of cells in the body. In many tissues they serve as a sort of internal repair system, dividing to replenish other cells.

              There is really no longer any ethical or scientific reason to use embryonic stem cells. But scientists will continue to try, and to justify it ethically. Some do this by, ironically, casting moral aspersions on those of us who bring up the ethics issue. Writing at the First Things blog, Wesley Smith responds to a faculty level scientist at UC Davis who got upset at one of Smith’s articles on the ethics issue. It is amazing how tone-deaf some of these fellows can be. One imagines that if, someday, we were able to extract perfect stem cells from pine needles, they’d still insist on using embryos.

                We Consume Too Much!

                I’ve heard this charge leveled at the US many times before, but recently I heard it leveled from a Christian from the left side of the political aisle. He adds, to the usual concern about wasted natural resources, that consuming so much in disproportion to our numbers is immoral and unjust.

                But this is only one side of the equation. I came up with a parallel situation to demonstrate the problem.

                I spend most of my money on a very few things. My biggest expense is no doubt my house. I pay so much money to one person; my mortgage banker. He and my grocer, between them, probably get the biggest chunks of change out of my annual income. I have a family doctor who, too, gets a significant portion of my resources. And, as my kids have started going to college, two colleges have been getting a bigger slice of the pie.

                (At this point, I quote a paragraph from his post and apply it to my parallel situation.) As a matter of justice, it would not be reasonable to think that it’s morally acceptable for those few people to consume more than half of my resources. Even though the laws were written in such a way that they are allowed to acquire those resources legally, it makes for an immoral and unjust situation, does it not?

                If all you’re looking at is the percentage of resources consumed (and that’s all his bullet points cover) and using only that criteria to determine whether it’s just or not, then my mortgage banker, my grocer, my doctor and two colleges are acting unjustly with my resources.

                Except that, for those resources, I’m getting shelter, food, health care and education. I’m getting a disproportionate percentage of what I need to live from this small number of people. Perhaps they could charge less for some things and not take as many of my resources for their lifestyle, but on balance I’m getting some essentials from these few folks.

                In the same way, while it is true that the US consumes a disproportionate amount of the world’s resources, and while it is also true that many of us could do with less, the world gets quite a bit out of the bargain. Medical advances for longer and better lives. Educational opportunities that people come from all over to take advantage of. Technological advances in energy production to bring a higher standard of living around the world (and higher standards of living almost always result in better health). Agricultural advancements that let vegetables grow in the desert and other inhospitable conditions. And on top of all this, when the world needs protection from enemies or help during calamities, who’s the first place they turn for a shield or a helping hand? And who has the armaments and money to help out?

                We do. The world’s getting quite a lot for the money.

                Ask the illegal immigrant risking what he has to come to America for work. Ask the African who now has a garden courtesy of a charitable organization. Ask the Libyan who may soon be out from under a dictator. Ask the Dani tribesman in Papua, Indonesia who won’t die from an infection that is now easily curable. Ask the survivors of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

                So unless he’s ready to start laying into his grocer for the "unjust" use of his resources, it might be best to reconsider this pronouncement of immorality and unjustness.

                Do you agree or disagree? My main point is that you can’t just look at the consumption side; there’s so much more to the question than that. While we consume more than our share, we produce so much from that consumption, and the benefits absolutely do not stay within our own borders. I believe the religious (question of how moral this consumption is) is being colored by the political. Not "going green" as much as you may wish me to is not, by itself (and this post isolates consumption by itself) a moral failing, or certainly can’t be used to solely just the overall morality.

                I believe the Christian Left falls into this trap more often than they care to admit; conflating the political with the moral. Being against Cap & Trade or the Kyoto Protocol, or not following the Green Othodoxy is somehow immoral. We should be good stewards of our resources; I’m not denying that. But to look at the "bad" side of the equation without looking at the "good" side results in fatally flawed policies. We need to deal with the bad without damaging the good.

                  Friday Link Wrap-up

                  A new experiment suggests that the Sun may play a bigger part than first though in climate change. But since this challenges the current orthodoxy, "The chief of the world’s leading physics lab at CERN in Geneva has prohibited scientists from drawing conclusions" from that experiment. Further, a peer-reviewed study using NASA satellite data shows that the Earth is releasing more heat into space than climate computer models assumed.

                  Anders Breivik, the madman who was responsible for the recent massacre in Norway, is often referred to as a "Christian terrorist". Granted, he called himself "Christian", but his aims were political. But the Left really, really wants to use him to equate radical Islamic terrorism and so-called "Christian terrorism". The Blaze asks,

                  Have any churches or clergymen openly celebrated Breivik’s slaughter of innocents? Are young Christian children dancing in the streets anywhere in Europe, as young Muslims did in Gaza on September 11, 2001? Could any honest observer of the world over the past 30 years believe that Christianity and Islam have played equal parts in terrorist attacks?

                  And Chuck Colson notes, the secularization of Europe, with its refusing to understand the problem of evil and sin inherent in human nature, is not helping Norway work through this or prevent it happening again.

                  More rationing of health care in England. This will happen here under ObamaCare. History has already spoken.

                  What G. K. Chesterton had to say about the Tea Party. (Sort of.)

                  Obama may have inherited a mess from Bush, but y’know Reagan inherited a similar mess (in some cases, a worse mess) from Carter. And he did far better with it.

                  The US accuses Iran of aiding Al Qaeda. Are pitiful sanctions really helping things out here? AQ would love to get its hand on a nuke, and so would Iran.

                  Government, apparently in the pocket of Big Agriculture, bringing more red tape and expense to the family farm.

                  The Obama administration admits "the White House doesn’t create jobs". It’s about time you realized that, guys. Congress doesn’t either. Government can get out of the way (or get in the way) of business, which does create jobs.

                  When Sarah Palin came onto the scene, with her history of speaking truth to power, even within her own political party, I noted that the Democrats, who purport to love that sort of thing, went on the attack instead. Like watching "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and rooting against Jimmy Stewart. Now, the same Dems who purport to want grass-roots groups to help fix Washington ask the media to ignore the biggest grass-roots effort in a long time. True colors: Shown!

                  And speaking of "terrorists" (click for a larger version):

                    Whom Would Jesus Indebt

                    Timothy Dalrymple starts out by noting that the Budget Control Act just signed by the President really only shaves off a bit of the manic growth of the federal budget; it doesn’t really cut anything. Instead, we continue to mortgage our childrens’ futures. He continues:

                    One of the great difficulties of this issue, for Christians, is that the morality of spending and debt has been so thoroughly demagogued that it’s impossible to advocate cuts in government spending without being accused of hatred for the poor and needy.  A group calling itself the “Circle of Protection” recently promoted a statement on “Why We Need to Protect Programs for the Poor.”  But we don’t need to protect the programs.  We need to protect the poor.  Indeed, sometimes we need to protect the poor from the programs.  Too many anti-poverty programs are beneficial for the politicians that pass them, and veritable boondoggles for the government bureaucracy that administers them, but they actually serve to rob the poor of their dignity and their initiative, they undermine the family structures that help the poor build prosperous lives, and ultimately mire the poor in poverty for generations.  Does anyone actually believe that the welfare state has served the poor well?

                    Read the whole thing. Seems some Christians see any attempt to reign in entitlements or reform these program ergo an un-Christian attack on the poor. It isn’t.

                       Page 1 of 8  1  2  3  4  5 » ...  Last »