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Opinions about the human embryo harvested during abortions

  1. May 8, 2003 #1
    Wassup all! Firstly, here's to me, back after a loong break from PF ; ) Secondly, Ill like to raise an issue hotly debated in my school's religious and moral education class. This may have been raised up else where but Im too lazy to go search for it.. : P This i, also feel, comes under philosophy, how we conduct ourselves and think about issues.

    What is your thinking and opinions about the human embryo harvested during abortions and the extra fertilised cells of test tube babies? Do you guys think that those cells are human, alive, sentient? Is it right to harvest them, the extras which will ecentually be destroyed, and to use them for the benefit of science, or is it wrong? Do we have a right to do these things in teh name of science, or is this jsut a thinly veiled mass murder?

    Would like to hear from you guys after such a long time and eagerly await participation... I've lots to talk about on this! ; )
  2. jcsd
  3. May 8, 2003 #2

    Another God

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    They are cells. We kill billions of cells unscrupulously everyday. At least killing these cells will help billions of future people. Bring the harvest on!
  4. May 8, 2003 #3
    So are you saying its justifiable to kill the cells? Just cause you lose brain cells, skin cells, hair cells ... etc etc everyday? Hmm if you look at the scientific point of view and with humanity the larger picture, yeah.

    By the way, just to deviate a little, are you christian or do you believe in God? I need to know a little more about you and how you think..

    K back to the thread reply. Those cells you lose are body cells, unable to replicate into new human beings. As such, they are not a human being and are, instead, part of one. The ball of cells in the zygote, on the other hand, have the potential to develop into human beings. Where do you draw the line between a bunch of cells and sentience and human life? Does life start when fertilization occurs? Or does life start only when the baby is fully formed? Do you count the developing foetus as human? If so, the foetus would have rights. It is not the right of the parent to sign a consent form to kill the baby. Do you put your head in and ask the baby whether its alright to kill it? Or the cells for instance, do you ask 'them' whether its ok to kill them for the sake of benefits yielded from experiments for the good of future humanity?

    Look at it from this point of view. You say now to bring the harvest on . And that sacrificing a bunch of cells for the good of future humanity is no problem because you're thinking of the benefits it might yield to future generations. Would you still consider it such a selfless self-sacrificing act if the bunch of cells were you instead? What if, you mother decided to donate you to stem cell research, would u still be thinking (im speaking metaphorically here, you cant think when you're a cell) that this is such a noble idea?

    Staring at your own sacrifice in the eye makes the false sense of glory dissapate. True, no doubt the research might yield benefits for future generations to cure diseases and other stuff but do the ends justify the means? To date, man has started playing god the moment he started healing the sick, by stopping the people going to die from dying. Are we going to take this one step further and play more god? Don't you think we are going too far?
  5. May 8, 2003 #4


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    I think there should be no problem at the cell level, or shortly thereafter. IMO, a human being is as much its functioning structures as the personality he has developed over some time due to perceptions, education and his/her own responses. None of these are present at the cell level.

    There is no possible awareness or conciousness present in a small group of cells. Conciousness and awareness are results of the collective behavior of very specific systems (actually, IMO, they are such collective behavior, nothing else).

    The problem arises due to the religious idea of "soul", which in turn comes from the observed continuity of consciousness. However, it is clear that such cannot be the case all the way down to one cell, since even religion has to acknowledge the clear correlation between brain function and mind processes.

    Also, when arguing about "potential", it is probably useful to remember that all information necessary to build a person is encoded on DNA. Should it then be a crime to wash your hands or scratch your head, since both ways you dispose of big quantities of perfectly usable molecules, each one with the potential for becoming a human being?
  6. May 8, 2003 #5


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    Do you believe then that we should leave clods of earth alone because they have the potential of evolving into a human being? What about the billions of sperm cells that die each day, each of which can produce a human life? Or the egg you lose each month?

    Nature is heartless - part of the planning for the equilibrium of life is that not every potential develops.

    Man plays God. So what?
  7. May 8, 2003 #6
    Notably all the heated debate over the abortion issue is a modern affectation. Colonial america much less the early Christians never even thought there was anything wrong with abortion which was the most common means of birth control. A few sheep and cow skin condemns have been found in brothels, but these were used to control sexually transmitted diseases. That said, the real issue over abortion is the classic contentious fundamentalist issue of what constitues a human being, which most definitely predates abortion as an issue.

    Now that both human sperm and eggs can possibly be created from stem cells harvested even from baby teeth, this issue may well shift in emphasis from abortions to artificial humans. Soon the technology for gays and lesbians to combine their dna from their partners may be available which should provide plenty of interesting responses from the courts as well as religious fundamentalists. Again, at heart of the issue is who and what is considered human. Fundamentalists may emphasis that it is a question of what is good and evil, but no matter what your beliefs it is certainly a question of what defines humanity.

    Just my personal observation, but Fundamentalism in both religion and science has had a bad track record on deciding this issue. Things could get extremely ugly but one thing is certain, it ain't gonna be boring.

    May you live in interesting times.
    ancient chinese blessing and curse.
  8. May 8, 2003 #7
    There is a woman I know who had an abortion. She let a ‘pro-life’ lady have hell once, claiming that a fetus was nothing but a parasite and people need to mind their own damn business…

    "It is easy to be conspicuously 'compassionate' if others are being forced to pay the cost." M. N. Rothbard
  9. May 8, 2003 #8
    Usually biologists consider a fetus to be organizm when nerve system (=brain) is formed. This usually takes place during 3rd month (after fertilization).

    Of course, other criteria can be used.
  10. May 9, 2003 #9
    If I cut the tip of my pinky finger off, although it would probably hurt like hell for a few days, I probably wouldn't miss it.
  11. May 10, 2003 #10

    Another God

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    I agree with Ahrkron and FZ+.
    I am, and I do. I am an atheistic philosopher with scientific scrutiny my guiding light towards truth. The truth, not 'a' truth.

    And THE truth is, Lines do not exist in nature. There is no line between being a human, and being not a human. There is no line between me of now, and me of 5 minutes ago. There is no line between me being a functioning human being, and me being dirt in the ground.

    Life? Life is everywhere, and we kill it unscrupulously. When I mentioned the millions of cells we kill everyday, I was also talking of the bacteria we so eagerly wash off our hands. The bacteria we clean off our toilets, the bacteria we kill as we cook up our food properly...We kill stuff all the time, but no one complains about the sanctity of life when the benefit is directly obvious do they?

    NO. And they have good reason not to. Life, feeds on life, feeds on life, feeds on life... Nature isn't 'designed' to be 'nice'. Nor 'Fair', nor pretty, clean, friendly... Fact is, nature wasn't even designed. To stay alive, you must kill. To be alive, is to risk death. Death is not special, nor is life. It just is.

    So now that I have made my claims about 'life' clear, when is that 'lifeform' human? Well, what makes a human a human? Is it the genetic code? Surely not, because we destroy our own DNA all the time as we lose skin cells etc... DNA isn't important. We have tons of it, and no one gets upset if you destroy any. Is a cell a human? Of course not, we kill cells all the time and no one cares. Is it potential to be a human? Well, what about the sperm and eggs that are wasted every...moment. They all have some degree of potential future humaness...But no one cares about them...There are no massive debates about the morality of having a period...

    perhaps it should be rephrased as: A fertilized egg is a probable human (rather than just possible). Hmm well...fact is, it is not yet a human. Now, as such, it doesn't 'think' in anyway, and as such, it doesn't care at all about its fate. If the mother doesn't care about its fate, nor the father (if such entities even exist), then why is there any need to care about it? It is, afterall, just another cell, with another copy of DNA in it, which is no more special than any other DNA out there...

    Meh...Nah, abortions are fine, Theraputic cloning is fine, and using Embryonic stem cells for research is valuable asset.

    of course not...they're JUST CELLS! LIke every other billion you kill each day. They can't answer, they can't think, they can't feel, and trying to personify them doesn't make any sense, because they aren't people...They are just lipids, amino acids, and dinucleotide triphosphates stuck together. They have no 'Essense' which makes them special above everyother type of Lipid-Amino Acid-dinucleotide triphosphate glue ball out there.
    It wouldn't be me, because I am not a bunch of cells. I am a large collection of very well organised and very well co-ordinated cells more than able to 'think' for myself, and defend my rights as a sentient life form. "Don't harvest me", I would say, and the research scientists wouldn't.

    I've never heard such defence come from stem cells before.

    The end dictates the means.
    No. There is no such thing as too far. What is playing God? What precisely does that mean? And how is this doing any 'more' than it was before? I think we are just continuing on like normal. And when u define what playing God actually means, make sure you include an explanation for why the term 'Playing God' has such negative conotations to it. I don't understand why taking control of our own situation is viewed negatively...
  12. May 11, 2003 #11
    All i can say is, i find this to be a cold cold world

    Firstly, from above: Life? Life is everywhere, and we kill it unscrupulously.

    Just cus we kill life nscrupulously does it mean its justified to continue?

    Secondly, new point i wanna raise. You guys are not from asia so you probably dont know the extent of prostitution in Thailand. Scientists say they pay for aborted baby parts and for the bunch of cells developing which women or more accurately, prostitutes, abort. Prostitution is an necessary evil dating back from the times of cavemen. It is the second oldest profession, next to politics. These *spit* prostitutes get paid by clients and when they acidently get pregnant, they go for an abortion and they get paid for the aborted stuff...which scientists in the name of experimentation and science eagerly lap up. I find that sick.

    Thirdly: you say that nature is not nice we have to kill or be killed. Yes but not true when you consider who brought life to a bunch of cells in the first place. It is the scientists and doctors who, when conceiving test tube babies brought life to the cells and kill them. All you people there protest against Frankenstein experiments and cloning, but you dont see the damage here. You protest wars and fighting, the killing of life when you are responsible for not only kiliing life in labs, but creating them in the first place.

    YOur defence that the ends justify the means and that there is no such thing as too far and that man has been playing god and who cares, will contradict with your vaunted christianity. We model ourselves in jesus's image, you claim, yet you exceed that and not only model yourselve son god, but exceed him, playing god. Im no christian but i find i cant understand you western christians. One of these days, man will undo himself, through his own actions. Sometimes the unquenching thrist for science will destory the curious.

    Food for thought.
  13. May 11, 2003 #12


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    If by doing so we promote more life, and better qualities of life, then yes, it is justified.

    That's the authorities job. Science cannot control the actions of these people. If you hold the view that prostitution is a neccessary evil, then you must do so in mind of the consequences. Science does not hold responsibility. Would you prefer they did it with coat hangers?

    So if you bring something to life, it becomes wrong to kill it when it was right before? Whether the stem cells are produced in a body, or in a test tube is irrelevant. Well, what is the damage here? What are the social implications? The emotional damage? The loss of accomplishment? The loss of knowledge? The loss of the essence of people - their minds?

    Quiet cough... not everyone is a christian.
    And even if you are there is no line in the sand saying "this is too far". The concept of starting to playing god was done the moment man existed. It is, as far as christianity is concerned, the essence of mankind to be modeled on God. We will not reach that stage, but we can reach towards it...
    Let's take the question of the sanctity of HUMAN life. What is human? I say that humanity comes with what we identify as consciousness, with the birth. Stem cells are not human.
    God's image, not Jesus's image. And we can't exceed God. By definition. And what happens when man becomes God?
    And how will man undo himself? You said it right - through his actions. Science alone is only a tool - the search for knowledge is only a tool. Foolish use of what we get with this tool, to work against us will destroy us. But science alone will not do it, only the unwise application of science.
    And I don't see this as unwise application.
  14. May 11, 2003 #13

    Another God

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    Yep, as FZ+ said.

    Are we justified to continue killing life? Well, as I said, if we are alive, we are killing. Life, kills. I'm sorry if the contrived ethics that society has been feeding everyone from birth suggests that 'life' has some sort of 'sanctity'...but this simply isn't the case. Life isn't sacred, it just is. And our lives each depend on that fact.

    There is no 'justification' to continue killing, there is simply an objective fact that killing and death will continue.

    Life is an incurable fatal disease. Everything which gets it, will die.

    Secondly: Prostitution is evil...? Based on what ethic system?

    you can't just claim absolute reference to 'evil' unless u are religious. And if you do so on those grounds, I will tend to ignore you. So explain what evil means in your context.
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