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In-Vitro Murderization
I missed this piece by Michael Kinsley when it came out, but I've had the same thought -- if Bush believes the anti-science bullshit he's spouting, he'd be stumping to have all the fertility clinics closed and all the fertility doctors jailed for murder:

In short, if embryos are human beings with full human rights, fertility clinics are death camps -- with a side order of cold-blooded eugenics. No one who truly believes in the humanity of embryos could possibly think otherwise.

And, by the way, when it comes to respecting the human dignity of microscopic embryos, nature -- or God -- is as cavalier as the most godless fertility clinic. The casual creation and destruction of embryos in normal human reproduction is one reason some people, including me, find it hard to make the necessary leap of faith to believe that an embryo and, say, Nelson Mandela are equal in the eyes of God.

Proponents of stem cell research like to emphasize that it doesn't cost the life of a single embryo. The embryos killed to extract their stem cells were doomed already. But this argument gives too much ground, and misses the point. If embryos are human beings, it's not okay to kill them for their stem cells just because you were going to kill them, or knowingly let them die, anyway. The better point -- the killer point, if you'll pardon the expression -- is that if embryos are human beings, the routine practices of fertility clinics are far worse -- both in numbers and in criminal intent -- than stem cell research. And yet, no one objects, or objects very loudly. President Bush actually praised the work of fertility clinics in his first speech announcing restrictions on stem cells.

Even strong believers in abortion rights (I'm one) ought to acknowledge and respect the moral sincerity of many right-to-lifers. I cannot share, or even fathom, their conviction that a microscopic dot -- as oblivious as a rock, more primitive than a worm -- has the same human rights as anyone reading this article. I don't have their problem with the question of when human life begins. (When did "human" life begin during evolution? Obviously, there is no magic point. But that doesn't prevent us from claiming humanity for ourselves and denying it to the embryo-like entities we evolved from.) Nevertheless, abortion opponents deserve respect for more than just their right to hold and express an opinion we disagree with. Excluding, of course, the small minority who believe that their righteousness puts them above the law, sincere right-to-lifers deserve respect as that rarity in modern American politics: a strong interest group defending the interest of someone other than themselves.

Or so I always thought -- until the arrival of stem cells. Moral sincerity is not impressive if it depends on willful ignorance and indifference to logic. Not every opponent of stem cell research deserves to have his or her debater's license taken away. There are a few, no doubt, who are as horrified by fertility clinics as they are by stem cell research, and a subset of this subset may even be doing something about it. But these people, if they exist, are not a political force strong enough to stop a juggernaut of medical progress that so many other people are desperate to encourage. The vast majority of people who oppose stem cell research either haven't thought it through, or have thought it through and don't care.

Is it all just politics? Is George Bush just glad the fundies got him off the drink and got him and the rest of the fundanutter-values-professing Repubicans reeelected? Are they all dumb or just terribly crafty?

Posted by aalkon at July 25, 2006 4:50 AM

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Comments

All anyone has to do is find out who needs to get paid and everything will go ahead full steam....

Posted by: Rob at July 25, 2006 5:50 AM

Again, again, again: As a practical matter, could this be less important? The work is getting done; the investment money is there. Politicians pander because that's what we pay them for! There's nothing new under the sun.

Posted by: Crid at July 25, 2006 10:29 AM

By the way, you can't get into the HOV lane alone at rush hour and then get out of the ticket because you are pregnant. What is the definition of "is"?

Posted by: biscotti at July 25, 2006 3:29 PM

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