Who IS this guy?!

'Niceguy' Eddie

Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, aired on RainbowRadio from 2015-2017.

Feel free to contact me at niceguy9418@usa.com. You can also friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and Tumblr, and support my Patreon. Also, if you don't mind the stench, you can find my unofficial "fan club" over HERE. ;)

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Abortion vs. Embryonic Stem Cell Research

I said in my last (real, non-Friday Fun) post that I would do a piece on ABORTION. And I will. But not just yet.

I'd like to do a bit on EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH first, because the two issues often get conflated and IMHO they are completely different. What’s more, to demonstrate this, I will offer a simple proof which shows you can go as far as prohibiting ALL abortions and yet still allow ESC research completely unrestricted AND do this in a logically consistent, principled way. (Completely banning all abortions IS NOT my position, BTW, but the point of this is to demonstrate that being “pro-life”, regardless of how strongly you feel about it, simply does not enter into the ESC debate at all.)

One last thing, before I get into the proof. I am not, and do not claim to be, approaching this issue from a completely objective POV. This is a highly personal issue for me, and I feel that I should disclose that right up front. I have two sons with Autism. And while Autism is not one of the disorders that you hear about very often with regards to the promises of ESC research, and while I am very realistic about the fact that in the unlikely chance that ESC research finds anything to help autistics, it will likely come far to late to have a huge impact of THEIR lives, I am still part of that community. And I am sympathetic to their POV. And many of them DO see this as promising research. It does not drive my entire philosophy on this, of course, but I think it’s important to disclose up front that I DO kind of have a dog in this fight.

Now… ON TO THE PROOF:

First off, we need to define terms:

1) UNIVERSALLY AGREED UPON LIFE: OK. Obviously there must be a line drawn on one end of the spectrum that represents a milestone in which EVERYONE (other than metaphysical philosophers and certified sociopaths) agrees that we have full-fledged human life, and that the entity in question is ABSOLUTELY entitled to ALL legal protections that the law provides. Although there’s always some nutter who'll will quibble about this, to keep things simple we’ll take this to be a live birth. This is the point in time after which we agree there is NO DEBATE, from ANYONE, that this LIFE must be protected. (Note: Henceforth if I refer to “life” THIS is the condition I am talking about!)

2) POTENTIAL LIFE: Here’s where the compromise comes in. “Potential Life” represents everything between the point in which the potential for life begins until we reach the milestone of "universally agreed upon life." It is a concession to the liberal camp to acknowledge the existence of this grey area. In what is a HUGE concession to the conservatives, we’re going to go ahead and agree that ANY AND ALL potential life will receive EVERY LEGAL PROTECTION that “LIFE” does. So, while we don’t accept the “life begins at conception” theory, we WILL extend every legal protect potential life that we do to life. That should satisfy the conservatives moving forward, correct? Good.

3) POTENTIAL: This is the key. And this is where the real test lies. POTENTIAL, relative to LIFE, means that, left on it’s own, we’re dealing with an entity that, given nothing but time (traditionally around nine months, give or take) has a GREATER THAN ZERO PERCENT chance of developing into universally agreed upon life. NOTICE: I did not say 100% chance, 10% or even 1%. I’ve given the conservatives the most generous threshold I can: Greater than ZERO. So if there is ANY CHANCE AT ALL, as long as it’s not IMPOSSIBLE, that we will, at some point in the future have universally agreed upon life, we will extend ALL LEGAL PROTECTIONS to that entity? We game so far? Good.

SO NOW… THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION: What is the earliest point in which we can establish the POTENTIAL for LIFE and thus be obligated to protect that entity?

Obviously this line will be drawn well before BIRTH. So we’re not even looking at TRIMESTERS here or anything even like that. Save that for the ABORTION debate. Let’s look at the other end of the spectrum...

Let’s start by applying this logic to the earliest possible entitles: Individuals sperm and egg cells. (Just to test it.) I think it is apparent to all but the most insanely devout Catholics (meaning: limited primarily to the non-pedophilic priesthood) that there is simply no anyone will argue that individual sperm and egg cells can ever, EVER, become “life” on their own. So we all agree that their potential is “zero,” and thus most ration peoples views regarding contraception, masturbation, IVF, surrogate/sperm donation, research, etc... So those (and most rational peoples' views on such matters) both pass the test, and thus the the test WORKS, in this case.

NOW… let’s look at EMBRYO’S; the sperm / egg combination. Potential? Perhaps. Immediately, at CONCEPTION? No. That’s right, I said: NO. Not one bit. Absolutely IMPOSSIBLE for an embryo to develop into “life.” Won’t happen…

Until…

IMPLANTATION. That’s right, folks! Until the embryo is implanted in the uterine wall, it's chance on developing into universally agreed upon life is exactly: ZERO. Thus the appropriate milestone at which the POTENTIAL for life is established is thus IMPLANTATION, not conception! What sane person can argue otherwise? Whether the embryo is frozen in hydrogen, swimming in a Petri dish, sitting on a counter-top, being flushed down the toilet or for that mater ANYWHERE in the physical or anti-matter universerse OTHER that implanted in the uterine wall it WILL NOT become LIFE. Period. Not in nine months, not in a million years. It will NEVER be anything other than what it is, and if not frozen in hydrogen, after a fairly short time even the cells themselves will simply die. Since ESC Research take place BEFORE implantation, the is no rational reason that this research should be taboo. (How can you have LIFE if you don't even have POTENTIAL?!)

Bottom line: We can argue that the ABORTION line be drawn anywhere between IMPLANTATION and BIRTH, but there is just no reason to draw the line any farther back than IMPLANTATION. (Did you know: PRIOR to implantation, you body shows no signs of pregnancy, is not aware of the embryo’s presence and no pregnancy test in the world can detect it? So how COULD you have an abortion if no one, every your own body, can detect the pregnancy?!) Concepcion is an irrelevant milestone. Until implantation, as far as I’m concerned, the debate doesn’t even begin.

Embryonic Stem-Cell research should thus:
1) Be completely legal and without restriction. (Come on! Grow a set Barack!)
2) Be federally funded, just as most other medical research is.
3) Only have restriction placed based on it to make sure that the limited resources (embryos, money) be used for the best possible projects. We don’t need ESC research looking for the next big thing in lip gloss.

As for ABORTION… Well, according to this we can debate all the way back to implantation, which still cover any and all abortions. (Sorry Lib’s!) But the point here was to separate the two issues, not to ban abortion. So we can take that one up in the next post!

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(And, BTW... for all you shade-tree economists out there, that diddy on Keynes is still coming! I didn’t forget. But it’s been on and off the back burner for a little while now… so it’s not ready just yet. It’s coming though! Important stuff! LOL.)

8 comments:

  1. "So we all agree that their potential is “zero,” and thus most ration peoples views regarding contraception, masturbation, IVF, surrogate/sperm donation, research, etc... So those (and most rational peoples' views on such matters) both pass the test, and thus the the test WORKS, in this case."

    "Until the embryo is implanted in the uterine wall, it's chance on developing into universally agreed upon life is exactly: ZERO. Thus the appropriate milestone at which the POTENTIAL for life is established is thus IMPLANTATION, not conception!"

    Doesn't the form of contraception make a difference then? A birth control pill that prevents implantation would deny potential life that would otherwise develop naturally.

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  2. I disagree.

    What will it "develop naturally" INTO if it doesn't implant? Why is preventing implantation different from preventing concepcion? The potential does not go higher than zero until implantation. So at no point are you 'reducing' the potential, because without implantation there simply isn't any. Also, if you define 'potential' that broadly, then Sperm Cells have 'potential.' All they have to do, after all, is GO TO A SPECIFIC PLACE. Consider even a BLOOD CELL. I can make human life from THAT, right? All I have to do it put it's contents into an embryo. IOW: I have to PUT IT IN A SPECIFIC PLACE. Once I do that, it has potential. Anywhere else it doesn't.

    Well... that's all the embyo has to do: GO TO A SPECIFIC PLACE. And your chances of developing into "life" are zero until it does. Destroying an embryo is no different from destroying a sperm, egg or blood cell, as long as it isn't taken from the UTERINE WALL. Neither has any potential for life until it's in the EXACT SPOT that it needs to be.

    So ALL devices, including the "morning after pill" that prevent IMPLANTATION are contraceptive in nature. They do not reduce the potential, because prior to implantation there wasn't any. They do not END a pregnancy, they PREVENT one from ever starting.

    And NONE of these, including the morning after pill, will work AFTER implantation. So when you start talking about (for example) RU486, you're moving beyond contracepetion and into the realm of ABORTION because this STOPS [a pregnancy] that's already started. No form of contraception can claim to do THAT. That's why IMPLANTATION is such an important milestone, though one that's often overlooked. It is, by any definition I can see, the point at which contraception ends and abortion begins. And thus, from my POV, the earliest possible time that any position on ABORTION can really be relevant. (Hence my feeling that they should be removed from the ESC debate.)

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  3. I find this distinction to be truly strange. So if you prevent a fertilized egg from attaching itself to the uterine wall, that's different from removing a fertilized egg from the uterine wall? They're both interventions of the natural process that's already running its course. And prevented implantation after natural conception is somehow similar to sperm cells that have never come anywhere near an egg?

    I don't see how a fertilized egg in a woman's body doesn't have a "greater than zero" chance of developing into a legally protectable entity. "Given nothing but time", that's clearly a possible human being. That simply isn't the same thing as sperm that is prevented from reaching the egg to begin with.

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  4. "So if you prevent a fertilized egg from attaching itself to the uterine wall, that's different from removing a fertilized egg from the uterine wall?"

    Do you deny that one prevents a pregnancy from starting while the other stops one that has? Please re-define pregnancy, and/or find me a p-test that will detect an embryo prior to implantation. Because even the woman's own body does not start to react until it implact. (Everything kicks into high gear pretty quickly once it does, but until then - all systems normal, Captain!)

    And why is sperm that never comes near an egg different from an embryo that never comes near the uterine wall? Niether will ever produce a child / neither has any potential for "life."

    Why, then, would Sperm that's "in a woman's body" be different from an unimplanted embryo that's "in a woman's body?" Given TIME, both MIGHT eventually get to the point of potential, but still: nothing is possible without implantation. That's why I don't 'start the clock until then.'

    And just as not all sperm fertilize the egg, not all fertilized eggs implant. MORE do, obvioulsy - it's not the million to one odds that the sperm face - but it's still down around 30%. So you've now got a 30% chance to eventually establish the threshold of potential, assuming we're infact talking about one this IS inside a woman's body, and not frozen in Hydrogen, but until it is implanted, you just can't say it has any greater chance of becoming a human. We both say "given time" but I still won't 'start the clock' until implantation. Maybe it will (implant) and maybe it won't. But until it does, it's odds are not greater than they are when it in my hand, on the table or frozen solid. You may be CLOSER to having potential, but you don't have it yet.

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  5. "Please re-define pregnancy, and/or find me a p-test that will detect an embryo prior to implantation."

    I don't see how being detectable by testing is relevant at all. We're talking about "potential life" here, and that's a separate term from "pregnancy". The phrasing involved an entity left on its own having a chance of becoming an agreed-upon life form. Left on its own, a fertilized egg conceived naturally quite clearly qualifies. How would it not, outside of arbitrary determination?

    "And why is sperm that never comes near an egg different from an embryo that never comes near the uterine wall? Niether will ever produce a child / neither has any potential for "life.""

    Obviously some eggs will not implant, but that's natural. It's not a manipulation through science. You're talking about one specific egg that fails to implant, but the point is that eggs in general may implant unless there is prevention of that. Talking about "chance" dictates that the discussion goes beyond a single embryo, obviously.

    The "potential life" argument was supposed to satisfy conservatives. I don't see how that's going to work out. You're promising protection based on the terms you defined, but you can not prevent a fertilized egg from implanting without violating that protection. It's not just about where you personally start the clock, if you're going to sell it to someone else then the terms have to have a consistent meaning.

    Think about it this way: the term in question is "potential life", but you're essentially arguing that the egg itself doesn't count as that because it only has a 30% chance of implantation. Isn't that exactly what makes it "potential" life? Even if you were to say that an implanted egg has a 50% chance of eventually becoming a fetus, then it's a 15% chance overall. No matter how you cut it, it's greater than zero.

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  6. It has the potential to implant. Just as sperm has potetnital to fertilize an egg, or an egg has potentail to be fertilized. So all any of those things have is the potential... for potential. Without ALL THREE, you cannot make life. It may seem a technicality, but it's undeniably true.

    I can have dirt, a seed, water and sunshine... but the chance of me ever haveing a plant is zero until everything's put together just right. I have to put one inside the other, pour one over it and place under the last.

    Likewise I can have sperm, an egg and a uterus. But if one is not inside the other, and inside the other, then everything dies before it becomes anything other than what it is. That's why I say it has no potential.

    Now... since your talking about the natural process being interrupted, I assume that your only really referring to things like the moring after pill, which prevents implantation, and not ESCR, whcih involved embryos created outside the body anyway, correct?

    Beyond that, I think we're just going to have to disagree here. The only way I can see it, the moment at which the potential to develop into life begins IS implantation. THAT is when contraceptive measures become abortive ones.

    Otherwise it's like playing baseball with 18 guys, 9 gloves and a bat... but no ball. Do you really have the potential for a game if your missing such a critical component?

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  7. I understand how you're seeing it, what I'm saying is that you're making an argument to satisfy conservatives, and a fertilized egg's "potential for potential" qualifies for legal protection according to the argument you made.

    Talking about the point before an egg is fertilized makes zero sense. Obviously there's a huge difference between that and a fertilized egg before implantation. Remember, this is about the definition you provided, so let's put the two things to your test:

    Unfertilized egg:left on its own, given nothing but time, will never develop into an agreed-upon life form. Zero percent chance, therefore not "potential life".

    Fertilized egg:left on its own, given nothing but time, may develop into an agreed-upon life form. Since it has a greater-than-zero chance, it is "potential life".

    It should be very clear that I'm not talking about ESCR, since my first post talks about forms of contraception. Bear in mind that one of the functions of birth control pills - not just morning after pills - is to prevent implantation. The same is true for IUD's and Norplant.

    And that's the point here. If you're going to grant the generous threshhold you defined, then logically you have to argue that birth control methods that prevent implantation should be illegal. To change that, you have to move the threshhold or redefine your terms.

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  8. "Fertilized egg: left on its own, given nothing but time, may develop into an agreed-upon life form."

    Not without implantation it can't. ;)

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