The stem cell resear…
The stem cell research bill looks like it’s on its way to the President’s desk, and the President looks like he’s going to pull out his veto pen for the first time in his two terms of office. has taken an official position, although not all the Directors agree with it, and there’s a healthy debate taking place over there.

One of the issues being discussed is whether or not these frozen embryos are human life. Some of this I talk about in an essay I wrote years ago, “Just One Question”, which asks a single question to determine the “human-ness” of the cells of a fertilized egg. One comment on the thread notes:

We are not all in agreement that the nouns “human”, “person”, “baby”, “child”, etc. apply to a blastocyst immersed in liquid nitrogen that is never going to be implanted into a woman’s uterus.

Of course, if being implanted in a uterus is the measure of a man or woman, “never say ‘never'” is a maxim to live by. President Bush spoke on this subject yesterday in the presence of 21 children who had previously been immersed in liquid nitrogen.

Not in direct answer to this, but to an earlier question in the same thread, another comment gives a more practical answer to that objection:

If these embryos weren’t human, the researchers wouldn’t want them. It is their humanity that is of value.

I don’t see that their humanity is even debatable.

But regardless of which side of that debate you’re on, if it’s not settled by science yet, the stem cell research bill pushes things on anyway with eyes wide shut. Given the continuing advances in scientific knowledge about life, and given the tenacity with which government programs cling to their own life, a plausible future is that we determine that these blastocysts or embryos (or whatever you want to name them) are indeed human life, but we continue to put taxpayer money towards human experimentation. What’s actually more plausible is that once this government program is in place, any discovery of their further human-ness will be squelched or minimized, sacrificed on the altar of “generally accepted science”‘, in much the same way those who don’t tow the “global warming” line are getting ostracized. Once we take this direction, the ship of state (and science) will be very slow to react, if it reacts at all, to further scientific discoveries that would stop the gravy train.

Mixing government & science is typically a dangerous thing, and tends to entrench scientific thought in order to get taxpayer money. This should be enough to be against this bill, regardless of your stance on the humanity issue.

(Cross-posted at and Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)

UPDATE: Turns out that indeed all the Directors at agree with the position that the President should veto the bill; hence it’s an official position. I misidentified one of the dissenters in the comments (a featured and prolific contributs to RS) as one of the Directors.

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