Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog


Veto the Bill on Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Life begins at conception.

If you don't believe me, don't ask a priest; ask a biologist. It isn't a religious decision, it's a scientific one.

Here's the short version.

First, throw out all supernatural notions, including the idea of a soul. We're talking about good old-fashioned rigorous science. In the world of science, identity boils down to one thing, and one thing only.


You are your DNA and your DNA is you. It's better than fingerprints. Not only does your DNA identify you, it defines you as well. How tall you are, what color your hair is, what color your eyes are, how you perceive the world; all of these things are determined by your DNA. In fact, some go so far as to argue that your DNA actually determines not only how you think, but what you think as well.

Given that DNA identifies and defines an organism, then the only logical conclusion is that as soon as a new DNA pattern emerges, the bearer of that pattern is a new, unique organism. This occurs at conception, therefore life begins at conception.

Like I said, check with a biologist if you don't believe me; you won't find a reputable one who disagrees.

Now, what they will say, in one way or another, is that personhood is separate from identity, and that the newly created organism may be human, but it isn't a human until it has a brain. Or until that brain passes through the vaginal canal. Or some other more or less arbitrarily defined moment.

But personhood is no more a scientific concept than is the soul, and we agreed to leave that soft stuff out of this. It's a legal fiction, used at different times to justify slavery, as well as genocide.

Probably not the best guidepost to be using here, eh?

So science tells us that life begins at conception. What does this mean for embryonic stem cell research? Simply that if we proceed, we're cannibals, devouring our young for our own benefit.

Probably not the optimum survival strategy when you think about it. Darwin would not approve.

And that's the science. I didn't have to bring God or morality into it at all.

I could go on, and talk about how few (zero) ESC treatments have actually worked, and how many ASC therapies are already in use. I could talk about the experiments showing that ASC can be coaxed into pluripotency, if not totipotency. I could talk about the benefits of autologous ASC transfers, and how they avoid immune system complications. I could talk about all of these things, but the core is still the same.

A species which cannibalizes its future to enhance its present will soon discover for itself where the dinosaurs went.
Posted by Rich
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