Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Clarifications, Clarifications

This blog is partly inspired by Subho’s on the topic and partly by a news piece on NPR today about how the President has threatened to veto the Castle Bill. I am not one of those people who can make very elaborate arguments and counter arguments but here are some thoughts that go through my mind every time I hear this inane babble:

  • The last time I checked embryonic stem cells were not being harvested by torturing, killing and then trashing dead babies. The embryo that every one is so zealously trying to protect is just a clump of cells…true it has the potential to develop into a human being. But for that it needs a womb – which these leftovers (I am deliberately being callous enough to call them leftovers here – that is what they are) from fertilization clinics do not have. Apparently some folks have adopted these leftover embryos and conceived them and are raising these children just to prove that embryo’s are sacred human life…How self serving is that?
  • Secondly no one seems to have a problem with the fact that with in vitro fertilization doctors are already playing God (isn’t he the one who is supposed to join couples in holy matrimony and give them the blessing of children). They can create redundant embryos(to improve chances of impregnation) but they cannot use those for research when not used as that would suddenly make them monsters trying to take over God’s job of taking life. That’s weird. Don’t doctors learn how to become doctors by practicing on cadavers? If we had been so pig headed about protecting our dead, do you think your GP would know what’s happening in your tummy when you went to him with an ache.
  • Somehow any discussion of embryonic stem cells convolutedly leads to the issue of abortion. The pro life folks have done such a good job that the public in most cases thinks both issues are the same. The issue of abortion is a women’s rights issue (feel free to disagree, but if you have a Y chromosome don’t bother telling me) that affects women only whereas embryonic stem cell research has the potential to affect the course of our civilization. Abortions have been conducted for quite some time now…you make them illegal you take away the rights of poor women/poor single women (rich women will always find a doctor willing to do it for them) and relegate them further to the bottom rung of the society. You make abortions illegal you take all that women have fought for, for so long – the right to their bodies. These are different issues, keep them separate. Understand that Pro Life in this case just happens to be Anti Women – I guess the pro lifers understand this rather well, hence the insistence on merging the two.
  • The government does not have any problems with private funding of these technologies. Let’s envision a very simplistic scenario here. Tomorrow Company X develops a revolutionary breakthrough in treating any of the thousand spinal cord disorders which are known to man. Great News…wow…but hold on….one bottle of their magic potion costs $ YYYYYY. End result only a lucky few who have all the money on earth to pay for it and get it. And why not, company X sank in its own millions into it and needs to recoup some of the costs doesn’t it. As I said earlier this is oversimplifying the issue, but doesn’t it make you wonder where that leaves you and me if we

These are just a random sampling of thoughts related to this issue that have been filed away in my head for quite some time now. I will probably write some more about it later – when I am not so angry.


Amlan said...

I can't grapple with abortion. I definitely know that were I involved in a situation where a normal healthy baby is being terminated, I would try my best to look for alternatives (foster homes, adoption etc.) However, having said that, I also underscore the fact that under no circs. would I enforce my opinion or see a law being made out of it. It is very critical for women to have control over their bodies.

So I guess that makes me pro-life and pro-choice... though definitely not in the political sense of the word. The pro-life movement really is a refuge for politicians and is more about pro-control.

Subhamoy Pal said...

I share my respect for life with Amlan. But respect for life also means respect for the means of raising a healthy kid in todays environment. Children need money, time, and commitment. The irresponsibility of an "accident" (or worse). . .that a woman physically and emotionally pays for through a very nasty, invasive process which is anything but fun. . . is insignificant compared to raising a child one does not have the means to raise.

I also find that some groups talking of abortiong rights and birth control technologies (morning after pill e.g.) claim that they promote promiscuity. Don't distribute condoms or tell school kids about safe sex. . .because that will encourage them to have sex. To some extent they are right: knowledge empowers people, . . .and people thus empowered might not share your "moral values". But knowledge has been shown to prevent spread of many STD's, and has shown to lower teen pregnancy. . .which is why Europe is faring a lot better than America on this issue. "Abstinence only" stresses the failure rates of condoms; in schools what is the failure rate of abstinence? Perhaps this country needs to learn a thing or two from Canada and Europe about the correlations between education and various sexual activities.

Sex education and abortion may not seem like they have much to do with each other. But I see both as being in a tug of war between the past and the future. I believe new technologies will radically change the way we view sex and intimacy. . .the life sciences are forcing us to ask strange questions about the nature of life. . . It is important to hold on to what we consider to be core human values in all this. So yes. . .maybe we will need to ban human cloning, genetic engineering of human beings. But let's retain our humanity through all of this. Let's respect all life, behave responsibly, and keep abortion legal. It is a last resort for women anyway, often because of bigger problems that society has done little to rectify.

Amlan said...

Distributing condoms promote sex is like saying distributing umbrellas promote rain!!

Ayush said...

Right to abortion of an unborn foetus is a women's issue. To be more precise its the choice and right of an individual woman.

Its utter stupidity that entire societies are trying to control/vote on it.

just like gay marriage is a gay issue. Why should heterosexuals be a part of the decision of allowing marriage for homosexuals?

donopolis said...

Very interesting thoughts...I happen to agree. The religous right is mussying the waters any way they can to keep people ignorant of the facts. I would also like to mention those Families who are "Blessed" through in vitro and then manage to carry to term up to 7 or 8 babies. This is celebrated? People donate food and diapers and even Houses! This is nuts and can't be healthy....

thanks for the time, I enjoyed the blog.