Stem Cell Research, your take





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Discus: College Confidential Café: 2004 Archive: Stem Cell Research, your take
By Shortcakefairy (Shortcakefairy) on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 07:19 pm: Edit

stem cell research should not be ILLEGAL, but the President is right to be cautious in just spending money on it, because it's not HIS money, it's OUR money, TAXPAYERS' money that would go to it. and the government SHOULD be careful in spending money without taxpayers' direct permission on an issue taht many people have deep, sincere, moral reservations about. Science, just like religions, should not be shoved down everyone else's throat. A person is entitled to their feelings, and their own hard earned money shouldn't be spent on something that they feel deeply against. It'd be like saying governments should fund abortions! (one issue is that the fetuses that are used for research were aborted) just because there might be some godo thing that comes out of it, doesn't jsutify what happened in order to get it.
Also, too many people act as if embryonic stem cell research promises cures that are just around the corner as long as money is spent. taht is wishful thinking and simply false. also, nobody focuses on all the potential that HASN'T been discovered by adult stem cells, umblibical chord stem cells etc...

Anyways, the issue is not about "whether stem cell research is right or good" but whether our money shoudl go to it whether we choose to or not. Stem cell research should be reserved for the private sector, and people who support it can donate money to the cause. However, many people have moral reservations abuot it and shouldn't be forced to sacrifice THEIR OWN BELIEFS to satisfy science or medicine, no matter how promising

By Jlq3d3 (Jlq3d3) on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 07:48 pm: Edit

I am very for embryonic stem cell research, and am glad President Bush opened up the gates for govt funding with a cautious approach. I hope more the research going on shows promise, so that more private funding is put into this area of research, and maybe more govt funding for new lines if needed.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 08:04 pm: Edit

We don't have to use public funds, but we should let private industry move full speed ahead. This is about lives.

By Eyesclozedtight (Eyesclozedtight) on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 08:16 pm: Edit

shortcakefairy,
i agree with what you say whole heartedly, and it is exactly why i can't support the bush administration. bush spends money in HIS best interest. the interests of the carlyle group, big business, and his faith. i would hope administrations of the future would be much more focused on the will of Americans. however, i imagine it would be a very touchy subject. after all, you can't please everyone. i think the problem stands in the polarization of this country. we need more bi-partisanship in political practice. hopefully, politicians of the future(maybe us?) can reach across the political party lines and make this country great again.


***i wasn't trying to change the subject or anything though... just my rant.***

i too hope stem cell research can show promise!

By Lethalfang (Lethalfang) on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 12:49 am: Edit

Shortcakefairy, you do make a good point about spending tax payers' money on something controversial and not every tax payer wants.
However, remember this when you make that argument. Just about anything the government spends money on is at least some what controversial, i.e. the military intervention in Iraq, NASA's Mars' mission, AIDS Research Grant, or 28 billion/year aid to Israel, etc.
I'd much rather spend money on stem cell research than some of the forementioned places.

By Starynight5 (Starynight5) on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 03:18 pm: Edit

There are some 20,000+ stored embryos thrown away each year. I think that they should be put to good use.

By Hhboyji (Hhboyji) on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 03:33 pm: Edit

Agreed.

I am very much up for it, and it IS for a good cause.

By Jlq3d3 (Jlq3d3) on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 03:44 pm: Edit

starynight, many colleges such as Stanford and Harvard have opened stem cell research centers that will make use of the embryoes. There is no restriction on private research, and Bush's new govt funding for the stem cell lines provided for more than enough lines that will last for a long time.

By Lethalfang (Lethalfang) on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 08:35 pm: Edit

"Bush's new govt funding for the stem cell lines provided for more than enough lines that will last for a long time."

That is incorrect.
Existing stem cell lines cannot last forever. Genetic degredation will occur over time thru mutations and constant zapping of the genetic material by cosmic radiation.
Private sectors can do whatever they wish, but know this, results learned on private funds are not made public, therefore the propagation of knowledge is very very slow in private sectors.

By Jlq3d3 (Jlq3d3) on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 10:12 pm: Edit

I never said they could last forever, I said they are lasting now, and there are enough. Only 1/12 of the lines have been aquired so far.

By Lethalfang (Lethalfang) on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 10:41 pm: Edit

With the uncertainty over the funding of stem cell research and the difficulty of obtaining samples from far away, many researchers only see trouble before they even begin to research in this area.

By Lethalfang (Lethalfang) on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 10:42 pm: Edit

And if only 1/12 of the lines are acquired because that's all that is needed, then you expect the number NOT to go up even if you open up the full funding, because by your reasoning there is more than enough for now already.

By Annakat (Annakat) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 12:59 am: Edit

the debate over stem cell research isn't about funding. it's about the president's reactionary belief that the work would somehow violate "god's plan" and that man would be tinkering with human life. i'm not sure what that means really, but would someone please lay out the right's objections to it so we can all more clearly understand this? george bush not only embraces the religious right--he IS the religious right. thanks.

By Jlq3d3 (Jlq3d3) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 01:01 am: Edit

annakat, stem cell research is 100% legal, in fact, Bush even gave it federal funding that could be used on the existing lines, which are a lot. I think you are over-reacting for political reasons.

By Annakat (Annakat) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 01:04 am: Edit

no, bush and his religious friends are over-reacting to some cells in a petri dish.

By Lethalfang (Lethalfang) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 04:00 pm: Edit

Anything short of a full authorization of stem cell research funding is unacceptable.
National Institute of Heath and National Science Foundation funds many research unlimited that have greatly advanced our understanding of science and medicine. The same must be applied to stem cell research as well.
"Good idea without funding is useless," is that some kind of line used by General Electric's Columbus' commercial?

By Pcrunner17 (Pcrunner17) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 06:52 pm: Edit

The funniest part about all of this is that embryonic stem-cell research isn't even necessary. Viable stem cells can and have been harvested from living adult subjects. Even more importantly, these are the stem cells that have shown promise in the field of medical research. I have no doubt that embryonic stem cells would do the same -- but why bother taking this controversial path when numerous additional options are available that have, to date, shown more promise? The answer: because embryonic stem-cell research hopes to justify abortion. If a human being can legally be killed (sorry if that word sounds too aggressive; I'm trying to take this from a completely objective approach) at such early stages in its development then there is indeed tenable legal argument to suggest that abortion is perfectly acceptable (should someone challenge the legality of homicide in utero).

I have a stance on this issue -- but to explain that I would have to go into constitutional rights and whatnot. This, very simply, is an objective look at what's out there. Whether you agree with embryonic stem-cell research or not and whether you agree with abortion or not makes no difference whatsoever. Everything in the previous lines stands as fact (except of course, my final sentence, which, obviously, is a conclusion that I have come to based on the previous facts).

By Pcrunner17 (Pcrunner17) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 07:05 pm: Edit

Just noticed a previous question, and yes, I can lay out the objections to stem-cell research: none, as far as I know.

As for embryonic stem-cell research, the objections of conservatives lie in the fact that to carry out medical research with embryonic stem-cells, human embryos must be (someone please give me a good word that objectively describes, "to take the life of") killed. Abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, regardless of whether you believe them to be legally justifiable, are homicide, as they result in the death of human beings. The only defensible argument for abortion is that a woman should have the right to choose what she will do with her body. This is a matter that must be interpreted in light of our Constitution and our rights as citizens. As for whether a human embryo is a human being, however, that is purely an objective scientific matter -- and from a purely scientific perspective, a human embryo is a human being. Conservatives believe that no human being can, under our Constitution, be denied his/her life. Therein lies the objection of conservatives to embryonic stem-cell research.

Again, realize that I am simply laying it out. Feel free to have your own opinions on the matter, but the above are facts.

By Lethalfang (Lethalfang) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 10:56 pm: Edit

The most important thing you will need to learn through your life, is to separate your opinion from what you perceive as facts.

For instance
"..and from a purely scientific perspective, a human embryo is a human being."
On what basis do you make that argument? Please elaborate.

Embryonic stem-cells are very different from adult bone marrow stem-cells. I don't know all the differences, but for one, embryonic stem cells have undergone fewer cell divisions, and thus they are more intact and carries less genetic defects due to various mechanisms that can damage the DNA thru time, such as cosmic gamma ray, etc. Embryonic stem-cells are completely nascent cells with the least amount of damage poassible, therefore they are the most potent cells for potential medical purposes.
Stem-cells carry all genetic information but no information as to what kind of cell they will turn into (skin cells or muscle cells), so these cells can be harvested to, for instance, grow into a heart for he who needs a heart transplant.

By Thermodude (Thermodude) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 12:25 am: Edit

Pcrunner17, I do want to point out that embryonic stem cells are NOT fetuses. Instead, they are embryo's which are about a week old, and are very much similar to an egg cell. Comparing embryonic stem cell research to abortion is a bit skewed, unless of course, you would consider that a women 5-days pregnant terminating her pregnancy is having an abortion. The fact is, there are pro-lifers who support stem cell research, as it has the best potential to cure many diseases. Additionally, most likely, the embryo's are eggs which have undergone pathenogenisis in a lab. I suppose however, based on your stance on this issue, that you believe it immoral for a woman to practice most modern forms of birth control.

By Pcrunner17 (Pcrunner17) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 01:29 am: Edit

"The most important thing you will need to learn through your life, is to separate your opinion from what you perceive as facts."

And I can do that very well, thank you.

I have made no stand on the issue on these boards; I have merely, as I stated before, presented facts to you. From a PURELY scientific perspective, a human embryo is a human being. I can cite evidence of this fact if necessary from medical journals, etc tomorrow if you still want them. As for tonight, it's fairly late, and I will explain generally what you will learn should you decide to put your beliefs aside, as I have, and look at the subject from a purely objective standpoint. A human being, religious beliefs aside, must have a beginning at some point. This point, at which "a radical change" occurs is fertilization of the ovum by the sperm cell. Beyond this point, no radical change in the genetic structure of the "entity" (don't want to offend you by saying individual or something of that sort) occurs. From here on, the human embryo simply undergoes a period of maturation. In the next 9 months, the embryo will mature into the child that will be birthed by the mother. In the few years, the child will mature into a toddler. In the next 12 years or so, the child will begin to mature into an adult with the onset of puberty. From the point of fertilization of the egg cell until adulthood, the human being is merely maturing. To suggest that a human being begins its "life" at some obscure point (perhaps birth? perhaps when it becomes able to survive of its own accord outside the mother's womb?) is ludicrous and has no basis in real science, my friend. Information from a purely scientific standpoint will always point to the fact that a human being begins its life at the point at which fertilization of the egg occurs -- here is where the radical change in the genetic structure of the entity occurs and, from there, the "entity" merely matures.
In regards to your rather muddled description of embryonic stem cells in comparison to other forms of stem-cells in the body, I must say that, while you are rather strong in your beliefs (you must be to type that without having all the facts), you are sadly confused on the issue. Stem cell research first took off with successes in the harvest of stem-cells from the umbilical cords of newborn children (a viable source) and a number of other sources in adults (I know you'll want evidence, so I'll find that for you tomorrow...I don't carry pages of citations in my pocket at all times sadly). Embryonic stem-cell research was never, in fact, necessary to stem-cell research.

As for the second poster, I never contended that embryonic stem-cells are fetuses -- I stated that, in order to harvest embryonic stem-cells, human embryos (which from a purely scientific standpoint are human beings) must be destroyed. As far as declaring skewed the comparison between the destruction of human embryos and the destruction of human fetuses, if you would merely recognize that in both cases a human being is destroyed, you would realize that the arguments against both have identical origins. As for you assumption that I believe it is immoral for a woman to practice modern forms of birth control, realize that I, myself, have taken no stance on this issue. Furthermore, had I taken the stance that you suggest, your logic is horribly flawed, considering that when practicing "birth control" a human being is never created as a human embryo is never formed.

By Pcrunner17 (Pcrunner17) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 01:38 am: Edit

Decided to make a few quick citations.

1. “... the procession of events that begins when a spermatozoon makes contact with a secondary oocyte or its investments, and ends with the intermingling of maternal and paternal chromosomes at metaphase of the first mitotic division of the zygote. The zygote...is a unicellular embryo.” 9
2. “Zygote: This cell results from the union of an oocyte and a sperm. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo). The expression fertilized ovum refers to a secondary oocyte that is impregnated by a sperm; when fertilization is complete, the oocyte becomes a zygote.” 10
3. “... [W]e begin our description of the developing human with the formation and differentiation of the male and female sex cells or gametes, which will unite at fertilization to initiate the embryonic development of a new individual.” 13
1.Ronan O’Rahilly and Fabiola Müller, Human Embryology & Teratology (New York: Wiley-Liss, 1994).
2.Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persaud, The Developing Human (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1998).
3.William J. Larsen, Human Embryology (New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1997)

I can pull up more stuff for you tomorrow when I have more time.

By Lethalfang (Lethalfang) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 02:55 am: Edit

No. You have presented to me your opinions and your perspective on selected definition, which is not universally agreed upon. It is not universally agreed upon, that a human embryo is a humam being. That is why there is human, and there is human embryo. There is a distinction between a self-sustainable human being like you and me, and embryo cells that is at its earliest stage of psysiological development. An egg is an egg. A chicken is a chicken. The point at which the development reaches the stage of a true human, is up for debate. No scientific journal article can prove one way or another, or undisputedly define anything as a human being. Because such articles are written by authors, and they merely describe their opinions, as what journals are.
The embryo, if inside the womb of the mother, and developed properly, will turn into a real human being, and will be born, as we say "a baby is born." When we count the population of this country in census, we count the humans, excluding the human embryos.
I'll for now set these technicalities aside, which only muddles the real issues. The real issue is how you obtain stem cells and whether they are immoral.
There are human embryos in hospitals that are frozen and will never develop into full human beings. In essense, they are just cells, the only emotional difference is that they carry the genetic material of a human. Whether you call them human is irrelelvent. What is relevent is what they are.
You can obtain stem cells out of them and have great medical potentials, or you can just let them sit there and rot.
My choice is the former, and it is that simple.

By Lethalfang (Lethalfang) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 05:18 am: Edit

One of the most important questions guiding this type of issues is: is it self-aware.
And then: is it self-sustainable.
And then you look at all the other facts, and you decide if it is moral or immoral.
The answer to me is clear. It is not immoral.

By Pcrunner17 (Pcrunner17) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 01:42 pm: Edit

You have made the right choice in directing the debate towards your own beliefs on the issue -- because, very simply, each person is entitled to his or her own opinion. If you feel that the process is not immoral, then that belief is very simply yours and others should respect that.

As for providing you with a selective definition, I do not disagree that I have done so. I have given you a very selective definition -- the scientific one. By a purely scientific perspective, as I have always maintained, a human embryo is a human being. The reason we call a human embryo a human embryo and not a human being is for the same reason we call a toddler a toddler or a teenager a teenager: there are more specific terms in existence for virtually everything. The purpose is ease of communication. The point at which a human being becomes a human being, in light of your religious/ethical beliefs, IS up for debate. The point at which a human being becomes a human being in a purely scientific and objective light, however, is not up for debate. The facts that I have presented to you stand as such. They speak for themselves, my friend.

EDIT: Decided to address some additional points that you brought up.

"There is a distinction between a self-sustainable human being like you and me, and embryo cells that is at its earliest stage of psysiological development."

There is indeed a distinction -- one is self-sustainable and the other is not. The fact that it cannot live of its own faculties is unimportant -- a human being from a purely scientific perspective remains a human being, regardless of whether or not it can survive in the outside world.

"When we count the population of this country in census, we count the humans, excluding the human embryos."

As for this, my friend, that is a legal issue, not a scientific one. It remains for the people to decide the legal justification in these matters. That does not change in any way the scientific truth in the matter.

"In essense, they are just cells, the only emotional difference is that they carry the genetic material of a human."

At this point, you once again bring a person's personal beliefs into the matter. You can take account for individual "emotions" and sentiment in regards to whether you consider this immoral, but again, from a purely objective scientific standpoint, this is a non-issue. We, too, are "just cells." Whether you decide that it is wrong to put an end to such life is your own personal belief, but you must not fool yourself into believing that it changes the objective facts of the matter.

Finally, as for this:
"One of the most important questions guiding this type of issues is: is it self-aware.
And then: is it self-sustainable."

I wasn't going to address this at all, simply because it has nothing to do with the objective merits of the matter, but your line of reasoning struck me as odd. I'm sure you agree that a person who has suffered severe brain trauma and is essentially what we refer to as, "a vegetable" is a human being -- yet these individuals are neither capable of self-awareness nor of sustaining themselves independently. Perhaps you meant to be more specific in your last post. Regardless, however, this last point has nothing to do with the objective points of the matter; I just thought I'd comment on what struck me as odd.

By Pcrunner17 (Pcrunner17) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 04:16 pm: Edit

Thinking about this a little more, I begin to realize why you're fighting even against scientific fact: Does the classification of "human being" to human embryos make you uneasy as to your stance on the issues? If I were pro-abortion or pro-embryonic stem-cell research, I would have no problem with this fact. The issue of whether or not the destruction of human embryos is immoral is another issue entirely. Were I a proponent of abortion or embryonic stem-cell research, I would not attempt to hide from the fact that, objectively speaking, these human embryos are, in fact, human beings. I would merely argue that, for some reason or another, these human beings are not entitled to the same rights and protections under the Constitution as other human beings, perhaps ones that have already been born (Though, as this does sounds somewhat horrible, I can understand why it would be easier for you to simply ignore scientific fact.), or, perhaps, that the rights of these human beings, in the case of abortion, are inferior to the rights of the mother or in the case of embryonic stem-cell research, are inferior to the good of the people through the advancement of medical research.

The fact that a human embryo is a human being, however, is certainly not my "opinion." It is an objective fact. From a purely scientific perspective, an organism MUST be classified as what it actually is. The genetic makeup of a human embryo is no different from the makeup of that human being should it reach adulthood. The difference is only its state of maturity. This is fact. Which leads me to wonder...as what would you classify the organism that exists after the fertilization of a human ovum by a human sperm cell? Is this organism a different life form that we will call, "human embryo" that will later somehow mysteriously metamorphose into a human being?

By Jaug1 (Jaug1) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 04:20 pm: Edit

ummm....why are people on this topic only discussing human embryos?

By Pcrunner17 (Pcrunner17) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 04:28 pm: Edit

I think it started because I made a comment about the validity of embryonic stem-cell research. Feel free to voice your views on other forms of stem-cell research, though; it might prove refreshing.

By Jaug1 (Jaug1) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 04:42 pm: Edit

I fully believe in Stem Cell Research. The benefits of one day being able to have a new heart, liver, kidney, stomach without having to wait on a transplant list are incalculable.

Stem Cells are purely the idea that you take tissue and cells of human organs and grow them to create new ones. I think that if we are somehow able to do this successfully the number of deaths due to cancers and other major diseases would significantly decrease.

The benefits out weigh the negatives when it comes to stem cell research. I mean, say I have a failing liver. Humans cannot live without livers. I don't want to have to wait for another person to die so that I can get their working liver. What do we do? We take a sample of healthy tissue of the ailing liver, regrow it and then place it in the body.

I think stem cell is a great thing for mankind and I hope that those who are also devoutly religious can see the great benefits of this science.

By Paulhomework (Paulhomework) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 05:14 pm: Edit

I am for stem cell research all the way. There should be no restrictions in the US that are not present in Asia or Europe.

Government funding is necessary, or we will fall behind Europe and China, and that's the last thing I want.

By Floridian78 (Floridian78) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 01:57 pm: Edit

actually, pcrunner17, I believe you are mistaken. A zygote, yes, may have all the genetic material to become human, but they are not fully human then. For example: twins. Twins have the same genes but they are two different individuals. Therefore an individual is not reducible to its genes. Twinning occurs as late as the fourteenth day (it can happen later but in this case they're generally conjoined twins). Let's assume the embryo is a person. Let's call him John. What happens to John when it "splits"? Does it split into say Jack and Denis? Does John continues to exist and, for instance, Denis spontaneously appears? There is no second fertilization here. This is another reason why personhood cannot start at conception : even the number of (obviously different) persons that will come from a single embryo varies. http://www.biochem.northwestern.edu/holmgren/Glossary/Definitions/Def-Z/zygote.html (at Northwestern University, Department of biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology) they define a zygote as "the unique diploid cell formed by the fusion of two haploid cells (often an egg and a sperm) that will divide mitotically to create a differentiated diploid organism." It WILL create a diploid organism. It WILL eventually become an individual. But it is not one at conception. It is just a cell. Scientifically speaking or semantically speaking, an embryo is no more a human being than a peach pit is a peach tree. It can grow into one but it is not one. Misinterpreting a (somewhat ambiguous) definition from a science book is not equal to giving a scientific argument. Even if a book flatly defined an embryo as a person, that still would not be an argument. Just a faulty definition. An argument would go like this "an embryo is a person BECAUSE …". An then we could discuss the argument. If you believe that a zygote is a complete biological organism, it would pose two problems:

1) What about people who have been mutilated? What about those missing some organs, members,…? Is a woman who had a hysterectomy still a human being?

2) Where's the heart of the one-cell embryo? Where is its spleen, its brain,…?

By Floridian78 (Floridian78) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 02:32 pm: Edit

possibly, a human could be a human at 28 days. "By 28 days the whole embryo is formed: head, rudimentary eyes, ears, mouth and a brain that shows human specialization; simple kidneys, liver, digestive tract a blood stream and a beating heart." At this point, or another close to it, you could call the group of cells, a human.

By Pcrunner17 (Pcrunner17) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 02:55 pm: Edit

Hey Floridian, thanks for the response, but I'll explain to you why you're more than just a little confused about the issue.

First of all, I make note of the fact that you have not addressed the points that I made earlier as to why a human embryo is a human being; you merely state that my definition is faulty.

Next, I will address your faulty logic.

"A zygote, yes, may have all the genetic material to become human, but they are not fully human then. For example: twins. Twins have the same genes but they are two different individuals. Therefore an individual is not reducible to its genes."

An individual may not be "reducible" to its genes, as truly an embryo can split into two separate human beings, but that does not preclude its being classified as a "human being." It still has all the genetic material of a human being, and thus, is a human being. Your point refuting this lay in your "twins" argument. Now that I have demonstrated to you why this is faulty, as it only deals with "indviduality" and not the clasification as, "human being," how do you argue against my initial proof of the classification of a human embryo as a "human being"?

"Let's assume the embryo is a person. Let's call him John. What happens to John when it "splits"? Does it split into say Jack and Denis? Does John continues to exist and, for instance, Denis spontaneously appears? There is no second fertilization here. This is another reason why personhood cannot start at conception : even the number of (obviously different) persons that will come from a single embryo varies."

Here again, your logic is faulty. I have never addressed the issue of "personhood." Truly, that term is more well suited to ethics or law, but if by "personhood" you refer to its biological classification as a "human being," I can explain this to you: A single human embryo split into two identical copies, creating two human embryos with the same genetic material. The first embryo was, objectively speaking, a human embryo and thus a human being. After splitting, both embryos are human embryos, and thus human beings. The fact that the two individuals are "different" in regards to how they will develop is irrelevant, my friend. I am not discussing personhood or their status as separate people -- I have merely stated that the organism existing before the split was a human embryo, and thus a human being. Additionally, were I to completely overlook bringing forth that compelling argument, I could explain the situation to you with this: Both embryos existing after the initial split are NOT different genetically, from a purely scientific standpoint. They ARE identical copies of each other. As "individuals," certainly they are different, but they remain identical organisms purely biologically.

I will repeat this remark again just so you can understand your mistake: "This is another reason why personhood cannot start at conception : even the number of (obviously different) persons that will come from a single embryo varies."

I have not addressed, "personhood" but rather classification as a "human being." The embryo in existence prior to split was a human being, for the reasons I have given in previous posts and that stand unrefuted, and the embryos that exist after the split are human beings, for the same reasons. The fact that these two embryos will develop into distinct individuals is irrelevant as far as biology is concerned. Perhaps you were thinking along the lines of religion in regards to a soul..?

" http://www.biochem.northwestern.edu/holmgren/Glossary/Definitions/Def-Z/zygote.html (at Northwestern University, Department of biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology) they define a zygote as "the unique diploid cell formed by the fusion of two haploid cells (often an egg and a sperm) that will divide mitotically to create a differentiated diploid organism." It WILL create a diploid organism. It WILL eventually become an individual. But it is not one at conception. It is just a cell."

Talk about misinterpreting scientific data . Not only does that quote not support your argument, it supports mine. You begin by quoting the scientific fact (and it is fact) that "the unique diploid cell...will divide mitotically to create a differentiated diploid organism." Then you proceed to misinterpret the quote into meaning that BEFORE it divides, it is not a human being. That quote merely explains how the zygote will develop; it does not state that it is not a human being because it has not developed yet. As for forming a "differentiated diploid organism," I'm afraid you misunderstand. This is not a new organism from the previous unique diploid cell -- it is simply an organism completely different from that of its
parents -- who have each provided one cell. You also state that it is, "just a cell." I don't disagree -- it IS just a cell, but that cell, as it contains all the genetic information of a human being, is indeed a human being.

"Misinterpreting a (somewhat ambiguous) definition from a science book is not equal to giving a scientific argument. Even if a book flatly defined an embryo as a person, that still would not be an argument. Just a faulty definition. An argument would go like this "an embryo is a person BECAUSE …". An then we could discuss the argument."

First of all, please explain to me how I have misinterpreted these scientific facts. Second, I hardly find that definition to be ambiguous. I'm not quite sure where you got that idea. (Perhaps you liked the sound of the word.) As for my statements not being "equal to a scientific argument," I would completely agree (although I'm not quite sure what you mean by "scientific" argument). I do not claim this to be an argument; as I said before, this is scientific FACT. I do not argue the point; I merely show it to you. I only have to argue when you fail to understand, and I must show you why you are mistaken, as I am doing now.

As for your "two problems," I think this is where you become most confused, my friend. This makes absolutely no sense. You seem to be arguing against yourself.

"1) What about people who have been mutilated? What about those missing some organs, members,…? Is a woman who had a hysterectomy still a human being?"

If you'll look above, I have never argued that a human being must be complete in its organ systems and bodily parts to be a human being -- only you have by stating that because at some point a human embryo is only one cell it is not a human being -- "just a cell." So, here, I must conclude that either you are extremely confused...or have given up and are purposely making idiotic comments.

As for the second part:
"2) Where's the heart of the one-cell embryo? Where is its spleen, its brain,…?"

That follows along well with the first; I have never stated that a human being need any of these things to be a human being -- only you have suggested it. Conversely, if your argument is that a human being needs these things to be a human being, that is foolish...for the same reason that explains why a human embryo is a human being.

Finally, I will also address this piece of writing:

"If you believe that a zygote is a complete biological organism..."

I have never contended that a zygote is "complete." Certainly, it has much to develop before it reaches maturity -- but then again, so does a toddler or even a teenager; this does not make it less than a human being, from a scientific perspective.

I hope that clears things up for you. Cheers.

By Floridian78 (Floridian78) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 03:56 pm: Edit

First of all, I like your smiley faces.

Secondly though, "Life begins at conception." Beyond the obvious controversy of this statement, there is actually a second and more subtle error here. And that is that human life began only once: at the dawn of humanity, with the rise of the first human beings. Since then, there has been a continuum of human life: every sperm, every egg and every zygote have been full-fledged signs of human life, complete with all the characteristics of normal cellular activity, and all 46 human chromosomes. The correct question is not "When does human life begin?" but "When does personhood begin?"

pcrunner17, you advocate that personhood begins when the sperm and egg join to form a zygote. The zygote is genetically unique and complete and will be the grandparent of every other cell this person will ever have. The fact that the zygote is the first entity to have all 46 chromosomes of a future person seems -- at first -- to be good evidence of personhood. But consider the counter-examples.

There are many entities which are genetically complete, which contain all 46 human chromosomes, which we nonetheless do not recognize as persons: ancient fossils, blood samples, hair cuttings, fingernail clippings, even skin cultures grown in burn centers. This is proof that genetic completeness, in and of itself, does not constitute personhood.

Then you might object that none of the above examples have the potential to grow into a person. Left alone, the zygote will naturally become a person. The zygote, of course, has a long way to go before becoming a functional person; it has none of the limbs, none of the organs, none of the central nervous system, none of the circulatory or respiratory systems; it is a single cell that contains the genetic blueprint of a future person.

My argument continues that a potential person is not an actual person. In other words, if A has the potential to become B, then it follows that A is not B. An acorn is not an oak tree. You cannot climb the limbs of an acorn, build a tree-house in an acorn, or rest in the shade of an acorn. And you certainly are not chopping down a mighty oak tree by removing an acorn from the ground.

A man's ejaculate contains nearly 300 million sperm, natural abortion must occur, because all but one of them will die upon failing to fertilize the egg. You might correctly point out that the sperm is not a person, so no harm is done. Killing the potential of that sperm to become a 30-year old adult with a full-fledged life is not a tragedy, because that potential was never actualized; you can't harm a potential person. The same logic drives the pro-choice argument about the fetus and abortion. If the fetus is not yet a person, abortion cannot harm the future person it will never become. The fact that the fetus has the natural inevitability of becoming a person, whereas a sperm does not, is a separate issue. But the basic point remains: potentiality is not personhood.

With further reflection on the subject, isn't being human having a conscience? That we can think, or at least think more than other animals? We couldn't possibly have a conscience when a brain is not present, only later on the 28th day, when a brain is fully created.

By Pcrunner17 (Pcrunner17) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 04:09 pm: Edit

I will refute your post in its entirety at a later time, but, at the present moment, I have work to which I must attend. I will, very quickly, cover a few basic points though. First of all, you are completely mistaken in stating that I "advocate that personhood begins" at conception. I say nothing about personhood, my friend -- which is why I am speaking from a scientific perspective. If you want to argue about ethical and moral issues, that is perfectly valid, but realize that I take no stance on these points. I have merely stated, and continue to state, that from a purely scientific perspective a human embryo is a human being.

You talk about the beginnings of human life in your post -- but by doing this you completely miss the point and go off on a tangent. I am not, and have not spoken of the beginnings of all human life. I am merely discussing each organism that is a human embryo and its classification as a human being. As for "blood samples, hair cuttings," I do not argue that they are not human beings because they have no potential for life -- my argument is far simpler and far more logical: These blood samples and hair cuttings are NOT organisms at all; they are merely parts of an organism. Therefore, they cannot be human beings.

As for, "an acorn is not an oak tree," here is where your argument is flawed. In as closely as we can analogize considering the basic biological differences between trees and human beings, tree is to adult human as acorn is to embryo. Your fault lies in believing that an acorn is, scientifically, an acorn. "Acorn" is the specific name that we give to this stage in the life of the specific organism that we call, (insert scientific name of organism that is the oak tree here). As you can see, the acorn is not, in fact, different than the oak tree. Again, it merely differs in its stage of development. Hope that helped to clear things up.

EDIT: As for the death of the single sperm being tantamount to abortion, that is just foolish. The single sperm is a part of the parent organism -- it is no more a death than when your blood cells or hair cells die. This sperm has not fertilized an egg to create an entirely new, "differentiated" organism. Therefore, it is not a human being, as it is not even an organism of itself.

EDIT 2: Just noticed your, "potentiality is not personhood." I've already refuted this line of reasoning in the above portion of my post, but just thought I'd address it specifically: I have never argued that potentiality is personhood, so noting that fact does not help your case.

By Floridian78 (Floridian78) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 04:34 pm: Edit

"This sperm has not fertilized an egg to create an entirely new, "differentiated" organism. Therefore, it is not a human being, as it is not even an organism of itself."

Actually, the sperm is an organism according to its definition:
"An organized being; a living body, either vegetable or animal, compozed of different organs or parts with functions which are separate, but mutually dependent, and essential to the life of the individual. Note: Some of the lower forms of life are so simple in structure as to be without organs, but are still called organisms, since they have different parts analogous in functions to the organs of higher plants and animals."

This proves that sperm is an organism, as is the zygote.

"Your fault lies in believing that an acorn is, scientifically, an acorn. "Acorn" is the specific name that we give to this stage in the life of the specific organism that we call, (insert scientific name of organism that is the oak tree here)."

When studying zoology, I learned about the classification of different animals. Each animal has its own characteristics based on its respiration, circulation, reproduction, nervous system, etc. The zygotes though, do not have any of these characteristics, and should not be classified as human. What is the difference between a human, a dog, or a pig zygote? Apearance, the same, same organelles, they are the same thing! (except for the amount of chromosomes) shouldn't they be grouped together?

By Pcrunner17 (Pcrunner17) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 04:43 pm: Edit

Read that quote again. It actually DOESN'T prove that a sperm cell is an organism. If you would research fully the characteristics necessary for something to be classified as an organism, you will find the difference.

As for your study of zoology, you must realize that human systems of classification date far back. I am speaking in terms of the system of classification used now, as would be logical, as it is most up to date. Do a little research, perhaps. Without anything on hand, I can ask you to consider this fact: many of the smallest and least complex members of Kingdom Animalia are completely without some of the characteristics you describe; yet still, they are classified distinctly. If you wonder how, again, do the research. As for grouping all zygotes of different species together, that is ludicrous and only helps to disprove your argument.

EDIT: But, yes, sadly I must get to work now. I'll post back tomorrow in response to any questions you may have or confusion that you may experience.


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