[extropy-chat] Re: Stem Cell politics --- Link to the Virtual Human Embryo site

Mike Lorrey mlorrey at yahoo.com
Thu May 19 14:26:15 UTC 2005

--- Brett Paatsch <bpaatsch at bigpond.net.au> wrote:
> From: "Mike Lorrey" <mlorrey at yahoo.com>
> [Mike you have written a lot in your post and I can't address
> all of it in one go so I'll split it up]
> When talking about embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic
> cloning in all its conceivable near term medical applications it is
> ENTIRELY true and appropriate to talk in terms of "clumps of cells"
> because that is ALL that is involved scientifically. 

The problem is the term 'clump of cells' is not a scientific term, it
is a popular term of vernacular. Thus its vernacular definition should
be used. Generally, such a term refers to either randomly sorted or
undifferentiated cells, or a small group of similarly differentiated
cells from a larger organ. A drop of blood is a 'clump of cells'. A
fingernail or hair is  'a clump of cells', etc. The use of the phrase
by pro-abortionists is entirely to soft pedal what a fetus is by
minimizing its importance or distinctiveness. 

To paraphrase you: using such language is perjorative and deserving of
tar and feathering, when used to describe a fetus that has moved beyond
cell differentiation and particularly when it has started developing
its nervous system.

Now, I likely kill more brain cells when I sneeze than a fetus has in
the first few weeks of its neural development. This being so, and
despite Olga's broad brush, black and white tarring and feathering, I
don't ascribe 100% personhood to a fetus at this stage. 

As I said previously which Olga and you have ignored, my concern
*increases* as the fetus gets older. Lets say we loosely say that this
concern starts at two weeks and reaches 100% at six months. This gives
us approximately 24 weeks, so lets say each week after two weeks we
give the fetus 2% additional personhood.

Now, we know that some people are capable of functioning in life on one
hemisphere, don't we? So we could say that half a brain is half a
person but still deserving of life. Do we therefore start being very
concerned when the fetus has reached the 50% point? Or, given that
cellular reproduction is something of an exponential process, should we
use a log scale of some sort?

Now, discussion about the growth of the outer cortex of the brain seems
to be the final establishment of personhood. The problem with claiming
that this is the only threshold that matters is that it asserts that
anything the mother does interactively before that point has zero
impact on the child: playing music, reading, etc. which I think
contradicts the claims of most mothers.

Mike Lorrey
Vice-Chair, 2nd District, Libertarian Party of NH
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
                                      -William Pitt (1759-1806) 
Blog: http://intlib.blogspot.com

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