Monday, March 09, 2009

"What a cute little zygote!"



"Oh, thank you, but it is a blastocyst right now, searching for a cozy place to implant." She said, blushing.
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I'm getting an education today in human reproduction and bio-ethics - I know nothing about birthing babies - nothing. Ignorance is no excuse however, and besides, I now have to know if I am expected to explain pro-life positions to non-Catholic friends who challenge me; asking me what the big deal is over embryonic stem cell research. People want to know why it is immoral. Thanks to Jessica, one of my readers, I found National Catholic Bioethics Center and Fr. Tad Pacholczyk's column.
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"Human embryos are already beings that are human (not zebra or plant), and are, in fact, the newest and most recent additions to the human family. They are integral beings structured for matu ­ ration along their proper time line. Any destructive action against them as they move along the continuum of their development disrupts the entire future time line of that person. In other words, the embryo exists a whole, living member of the human species, and when destroyed, that particular individual has perished. Every human embryo, thus, is unique and sacrosanct, and should not be cannibalized for stem cell extraction.
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What a human embryo actually is, even at its earliest and most undeveloped stage, already makes it the only kind of entity capable of receiving the gift of an immortal soul from the hand of God. No other animal or plant embryo can receive this gift; indeed, no other entity in the universe can receive this gift. Hence, the early human embryo is never merely biological tissue, like a group of liver cells in a petri dish; at a minimum, such an embryo, with all its internal structure and directionality, represents the privileged sanctuary of one meant to develop as a human person.
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Some scientists and philosophers will attempt to argue that if an early embryo might not yet have received its immortal soul from God, it must be OK to destroy that embryo for research since he or she would not yet be a person. But it would actually be the reverse; that is to say, it would be more immoral to destroy an embryo that had not yet received an immortal soul than to destroy an ensouled embryo. Why? Because the immortal soul is the principle by which that person could come to an eternal destiny with God in heaven, so the one who destroyed the embryo, in this scenario, would preclude that young human from ever receiving an immortal soul (or becoming a person) and making his or her way to God. This would be the gravest of evils, as the stem cell researcher would forcibly derail the entire eternal design of God over that unique and unrepeatable person, via an action that would be, in some sense, worse than murder. The human person, then, even in his or her most incipient form as an embryonic human being, must always be safeguarded in an absolute and unconditional way, and speculation about the timing of personhood cannot alter this fundamental truth." - Do Embryos Have Souls
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Nevertheless, people do not care. As my friend told me, "Yes, but all of those embryos will eventually be discarded and destroyed anyway, so why not use them for the good of others. Think of Michael J. Fox..."

4 comments:

  1. People who don't see anything wrong with in-vitro fertilization are unlikely to see anything wrong with embryonic stem cell research. Destruction of embryos is implicit in IVF. Even the embryos that make it through the selection process are in harm's way; recent statistics show something like a four-fold risk of birth defects in babies born through IVF.
    Another thing to be considered is that ESC research has become a surrogate for a mentality that wants no limits placed on what science can and cannot do. That ESC has failed thus far to produce any cures is beside the point for people who think in terms of moral relativism.
    In order to convince people that ESC research is wrong they have to first be convinced that IVF is wrong. If they don't believe there are any moral absolutes this will be hard.

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  2. Great quote from Father P. Still, I'm terribly upset today.

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  3. Melody, you are right.

    Cath - you can't tell I'm upset?

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  4. Went with a buddy to see Watchmen last night...if you can get past the gratuitous gore (I watched thru squinted eyes), the sex scene (pretty graphic temptation for str8 guys), and the fact that the primary character is a frontal-nudity male (though done in a kind of computerized animation he is still HOT as heck) then I have to say: GO SEE IT. Science and the value of human life form the core theme and I will only say (to not ruin it for those who haven't seen it) that there are a couple of very awesome unmistakable pro-life dialogues. I wish Obama gave things at least as much thought as these characters did.

    Its a near 3-hour flick that has you thinking about it even the next day...

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