Pro Life Churches fighting for blastocyst rights in Missouri

October 10, 2006 | By | 4 Replies More

I just had a (loud) discussion with a pro-life friend who told me what his church is telling people about this amendment. Now, this guy is intelligent and literate, but has fully bought into the Bible-as-inerrant-literal-truth philosophy. Maybe you’ve read Erich’s Missouri Amendment 2 entry from April. Maybe not. Here is the amendment text.

I had wondered why they started pushing this amendment so early in the season. I am always skeptical of any product that is loudly ballyhooed. In this case, I guess it’s because they knew the level of Red State resistance they would be up against.

My friend has been told (and I’ve seen billboards that say) women will be selling eggs for research. But section 38(d)2.(4) says:

(4) No person may, for valuable consideration, purchase or sell human blastocysts or eggs for stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures.

They are taught in these political rallies (Sunday services) that to implant a nucleus in an egg is the definition of cloning. And that cloning is evil.

They have it gently drummed into them that, although there have been proven cures derived from adult (umbilical cord) stem cells, no cure has been created from fetal stem cells in 30 years of research! I tried to explain the difference between Pure Research and Applied Research, and between theoretical possibilities and the current state of the art. No luck.

Their real argument is that anything in the sequence of

{human zygote – blastocyst – embryo – fetus – child – adult}

is a person imbued with spirit and inalienable rights. This attitude is that, if you would allow a 20-cell blastocyst to be mutilated, you might as well join the Dr. Mengele school of Medical Research and wear a swastika. Killing a blastocyst in research is evil, whereas disposing of leftover embryos from fertility clinics is a regrettable necessity for lack of willing donor wombs.

I expect that this amendment will follow the pro-life/pro-choice demographic pretty closely. The Republicans couldn’t have picked a better issue to get out the vote for their Senatorial candidate in a few weeks. This issue from back in April must be grumpy’s October Surprise.

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Category: Current Events, Law, Meaning of Life, Politics, Religion, Reproductive Rights

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A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Dan-As you know, this vote is a critical one in Missouri and emotions are running high on both sides. My neighbor is now prominently displaying his yard sign against the Missouri Constitutional Amendment that protects the right to do stem cell research. I consider my neighbor’s position to be the “let real babies die in order to save the blastocysts” position. That gruesome thought provoked me to write a post in which a hypothetical woman (I called her “Sophie”) struggled as to whether to save a blastocyst or her walking talking daughter, assuming she could only save one of them. See here

    I also wrote on this topic in August, with additional links to relevant sources of information on the Missouri stem cell initiative.

  2. Jason Rayl says:

    It is very unpopular to speak in these terms, but what the heck.

    People hang their sense of self-worth on a number of things, but one of them that is the most tenacious and least supportable in a kind of innate quality of personhood that requires the individual DO NOTHING to merit it. This has become an unstated given in law concerning human rights violations, genocide, and hate crime. It's perfectly understandable in an age when defining "human" may determine who live, who dies, who gets all the toys in the interim.

    Unfortunately, like any useful tag, it has its limits, and this is an instance wherein those limits have been ignored, probably on both sides. What constitutes a human being? Biology? Intelligence? Custom?

    Though it is nothing upon which I would enact law, the fact is we probably all know people who have reached adulthood who on some scales do not qualify as "human." But we ignore this. It is innately understood that "human"–in the nonbiological sense–is ineffable, numinous, impossible to quantify. Yet…

    How can there be personhood without a person? And if a person is something that interacts, demonstrates a capacity for humanlike behaviors, and a potential for characteristics which resonate with others in a positive manner, how can something which has never been "present" to develop those traits be considered human other than be legal definition, which is in this instance a fiction which we agree to because it makes the defense of certain rights viable?

    But what most people desire, stated or not, comprehended or not, is admission to club without the least effort to qualify. They want the innate quality to be sufficient. But once you establish that innate qualification, you run into the other problem of establishing limits on the assumption.

    Prolifers often treat as established the humanity of things which cannot possibly exemplify what is commonly meant by the term, because it is easier, more comforting, and less problematic than doing the work to know what Being Human actually means. Perhaps this is not a bad thing.

    But if one of the aspects of Being Human is the right to have choices and order your life as you see fit, then such definitions of ease and comfort are superlative nonsense. In this instance, inevitably, the exercise of being human is blocked by prohibitions based on assumptions which cannot be supported any other way than be legal fiat. This has emotional resonance among people who do not wish to think that hard, do not wish to make decisions for themselves which seem cold and callous, and do not wish the choice even to be on the table for others lest they feel compelled to reassess their assumptions.

    It doesn't become obvious, often, until we get to a part of the argument where the absurdities become unendurable and utterly unsupportable by the nature of conflicting perceptions of an issue.

  3. grumpypilgrim says:

    "…This has emotional resonance among people who do not wish to think that hard, do not wish to make decisions for themselves which seem cold and callous, and do not wish the choice even to be on the table for others lest they feel compelled to reassess their assumptions."

    Indeed, as Jason's comment observes, especially in the above excerpt, pro-lifers might actually be trying to protect themselves as much as they are trying to protect blastocysts and fetuses. Creating a rigid, if nonsensical, rule that blastocysts are equivalent to people eliminates the need to think, to debate, to weigh competing interests, to decide and, most importantly, to take responsibility for the consequences. People can hide behind the rule instead of acknowledging their own complicity with the outcome.

    That is the one great "benefit" of absolute rules, whether they are civil or moral: they remove the need to think. Courtrooms would need no judges: law books would mechanically define the penalty for each offense. Citizens would need no discussions about moral problems: the Bible (or some other book) would mechanically define moral behavior. But who would want to live in such a society? Indeed, what would be fair — or even human — about such a society?

  4. Drangsorian says:

    I am confused here, Jason, with all of your numinous intellectual jargon. It seems to me (now, I may simply be too dense to comprehend the premise of your argument), that applying a definition to human is equally arbitrary before birth as it is after. That people are simply too lazy to understand what it means to be human and seek admittance to this “special club” without otherwise deserving the invitation?

    Does this imply that there are qualifications that must be met before a human being – a living organism belonging to the human species – be considered a “person?” Who determines these qualifications? Are those that are found wanting therefore permittably eliminated?

    “How can there be personhood without a person? And if a person is something that interacts, demonstrates a capacity for humanlike behaviors, and a potential for characteristics which resonate with others in a positive manner, how can something which has never been “present” to develop those traits be considered human other than be legal definition, which is in this instance a fiction which we agree to because it makes the defense of certain rights viable?”

    1. A living cluster of cells forming within a womb is something that “interacts.” Perhaps not in the way that you mean, but the fact remains. It adheres to the fivefold definition of biological life. If you mean in the philosophical sense, even here you would be wrong. Though a fetus cannot interact through speech or behavior the way an adult human would, it still is quite capable of interacting with internal and external stimuli. Indeed, the very process of life that takes place is a series of interactions…
    2. A capacity for humanlike behaviors. Well, you apparently claim the the term “human” is primarily arbitrary. So, what do you mean here? That the behavior appear to be something another human is capable of doing? Even in this sense, a blastocyst exhibits human behavior on a myriad of qualifications AND also has the CAPACITY (actual or potential ability to perform, yield, or withstand) for human characteristics.
    3. A potential for characteristics that resonate positively with others. I am pretty sure that most human beings feel a great sense of joy when they discover that a woman is pregnant. The developing being inside of said woman will often exhibit characteristics which others find absolutely delightful. Kicking, moving, sucking thumb, thinking, dreaming…even before all of these actions are possible for the fetus, the fact that the being is GROWING AND LIVING is very much a characteristic that resonates positively with a majority of people.
    Even so, still the POTENTIAL is there. Because, if we are talking about potential, I am sure you realize that means that it is for the percieved ability for the object in question to DEVELOP those traits…which we percieve it usually will (and even if the PERSON that develops does not fit your lofty definition of what it means to “really be a human/person,” the resulting being will most DEFINITELY be BIOLOGICALLY human).

    4. An understanding of biology, morality, causality, and legality are all fiction fabricated solely for the purpose of mantaining certain rights? Well, of COURSE. Indeed, much of what humans percieve as reality is arbitrary. Much of Human understanding is subjective. But being the type of subjective, rationalizing beings we are, it is necessary that we come to these types of definitions or else what would be the point in society? What would be the point of government? What would be the point of laws?

    Grumpypilgrim said: “Indeed, as Jason’s comment observes, especially in the above excerpt, pro-lifers might actually be trying to protect themselves as much as they are trying to protect blastocysts and fetuses. Creating a rigid, if nonsensical, rule that blastocysts are equivalent to people eliminates the need to think, to debate, to weigh competing interests, to decide and, most importantly, to take responsibility for the consequences. People can hide behind the rule instead of acknowledging their own complicity with the outcome.”

    Interesting that you would make this comment, sir, considering that “pro-choicers” might actually be trying to do the exact same thing. They are attempting to create a rigid, if nonsensical, rule that blastocysts (indeed, even fetuses, even babies, even PEOPLE – if we are to include the above comment) are not equivalent to people…does this not eliminate the need to think, debate, and weigh competing interests? Certainly the very fact that both sides are having the conversation is an obvious refutation of that premise.
    Also, you mention that they attempt to dodge responsibility for their actions…interesting…considering that those that would seek dehumanize a living human being do so in order to hide behind a rule instead of acknowleding complicity with the outcome.
    I am talking here, of course, about the implied outcome of heterosexual intercourse sans contraception. In seeking to make a law that protects the termination of the life that results from this choice, is not a pro-choice advocate seeking to hide from the consequences of this action…?
    Indeed, they are.

    Funny how we can ignore logic in order to substantiate our otherwise unfounded claims.
    😀

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