Tag Archives: ASCR

Abortion debate: a secular case against legalized abortion

Unborn baby scheming about being only two months old
Unborn baby scheming about being only two months old

Note: this post has a twin! Its companion post on a secular case against gay marriage is here.

Now, you may think that the view that the unborn deserve protection during pregnancy is something that you either take on faith or not. But I want to explain how you can make a case for the right to life of the unborn, just by using reason and evidence.

To defend the pro-life position, I think you need to sustain 3 arguments:

  1. The unborn is a living being with human DNA, and is therefore human.
  2. There is no morally-relevant difference between an unborn baby, and one already born.
  3. None of the justifications given for terminating an unborn baby are morally adequate.

Now, the pro-abortion debater may object to point 1, perhaps by claiming that the unborn baby is either not living, or not human, or not distinct from the mother.

Defending point 1: Well, it is pretty obvious that the unborn child is not inanimate matter. It is definitely living and growing through all 9 months of pregnancy. (Click here for a video that shows what a baby looks like through all 9 months of pregnancy). Since it has human DNA, that makes it a human. And its DNA is different from either its mother or father, so it clearly not just a tissue growth of the father or the mother. More on this point at Christian Cadre, here. An unborn child cannot be the woman’s own body, because then the woman would have four arms, four legs, two heads, four eyes and two different DNA signatures. When you have two different human DNA signatures, you have two different humans.

Secondly, the pro-abortion debater may try to identify a characteristic of the unborn that is not yet present or developed while it is still in the womb, and then argue that because the unborn does not have that characteristic, it does not deserve the protection of the law.

Defending point 2: You need to show that the unborn are not different from the already-born in any meaningful way. The main differences between them are: size, level of development, environment and degree of dependence. Once these characteristics are identified, you can explain that none of these differences provide moral justification for terminating a life. For example, babies inside and outside the womb have the same value, because location does not change a human’s intrinsic value.

Additionally, the pro-abortion debater may try to identify a characteristic of the already-born that is not yet present or developed in the unborn, and then argue that because the unborn does not have that characteristic, that it does not deserve protection, (e.g. – sentience). Most of the these objections that you may encounter are refuted in this essay by Francis Beckwith. Usually these objections fall apart because they assume the thing they are trying to prove, namely, that the unborn deserves less protection than the already born.

Finally, the pro-abortion debater may conceded your points 1 and 2, and admit that the unborn is fully human. But they may then try to provide a moral justification for terminating the life of the unborn, regardless.

Defending point 3: I fully grant that it is sometimes justifiable to terminate an innocent human life, if there is a moral justification. Is there such a justification for abortion? One of the best known attempts to justify abortion is Judith Jarvis Thomson’s “violinist” argument. This argument is summarized by Paul Manata, one of the experts over at Triablogue:

Briefly, this argument goes like this: Say a world-famous violinist developed a fatal kidney ailment and the Society of Music Lovers found that only you had the right blood-type to help. So, they therefore have you kidnapped and then attach you to the violinist’s circulatory system so that your kidneys can be used to extract the poison from his. To unplug yourself from the violinist would be to kill him; therefore, pro-lifers would say a person has to stay attached against her will to the violinist for 9 months. Thompson says that it would be morally virtuous to stay plugged-in. But she asks, “Do you have to?” She appeals to our intuitions and answers, “No.”

Manata then goes on to defeat Thomson’s proposal here, with a short, memorable illustration, which I highly recommend that you check out. More info on how to respond to similar arguments is here.

Here is the best book for beginners on the pro-life view.

For those looking for advanced resources, Francis Beckwith, a professor at Baylor University, published the book Defending Life, with Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Adult stem cell therapy saves man who was told he had 120 days to live

A striking story from Life News.

Excerpt:

Tony Underhill lived a full, active life until Systemic Scleroderma ravaged his body and confined him to a wheelchair.  The autoimmune disease slowly hardened his skin until he could hardly move.

[…]Tony went to the best doctors in Nashville and later to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. They tried everything to treat him but nothing worked. Eventually they sent him home with devastating news.

“They told me I had systemic scleroderma,” said Tony.  “They treated me for 10 days and the day I checked out of the hospital, on my release papers under prognosis, it said “unfortunate.” I asked the doctor, you know, unfortunate, what does this mean?  He told me that, what he told me was there was no cure for it.  And that basically I had 120 days left. So I came home and all the things that I was doing last year was going to be gone – and I was gonna be gone too!”

But the story didn’t end there:

An acquaintance of Missy and Tony had read a story in Reader’s Digest about a patient being treated for Scleroderma with Adult Stem Cells.  Missy went to work researching and tracked down the patient featured in the story. The patient told her she had undergone an adult stem cell transplant several years ago in a clinical trial and that adult stem cells had saved her life.

Tony applied and was accepted into a similar clinical trial underway with Dr. Richard Burt at Northwestern University in Chicago. Missy says it was miraculous to see the adult stem cells go to work: “When he received the adult stem cell transplant, the day after, I have it videoed on my phone, literally we felt like he could move his hands slightly better, he could open his mouth wider. It was pretty immediate that we started to see results.”

Tony says, “Every day after I got my transplant, every day was getting better.  Every day was like getting a new shot of life in your arm every day.”

And as of today, Tony has his health back again and he continues to improve. He’s running his construction business, working out at his exercise bike and says he’s back to about 80% of his original mobility.

“I’m a walking miracle.  I’m lucky to be here, you know. Now, if I’m working with my guys, if they need me out there to work, run a machine for them to make the day better or something like that, I’ll run the backhoe, track hoe, drive a dump truck, run a Bobcat, asphalt roller, whatever I need to do.”

Adult stem cell therapies not only work, but they don’t involve the destruction of human life, like embryonic stem cell therapies do.

Related posts

Abortion debate: a secular case against legalized abortion

Unborn baby scheming about being only two months old
Unborn baby scheming about being only two months old

Note: this post has a twin! Its companion post on a secular case against gay marriage is here.

Now, you may think that the view that the unborn deserve protection during pregnancy is something that you either take on faith or not. But I want to explain how you can make a case for the right to life of the unborn, just by using reason and evidence.

To defend the pro-life position, I think you need to sustain 3 arguments:

  1. The unborn is a living being with human DNA, and is therefore human.
  2. There is no morally-relevant difference between an unborn baby, and one already born.
  3. None of the justifications given for terminating an unborn baby are morally adequate.

Now, the pro-abortion debater may object to point 1, perhaps by claiming that the unborn baby is either not living, or not human, or not distinct from the mother.

Defending point 1: Well, it is pretty obvious that the unborn child is not inanimate matter. It is definitely living and growing through all 9 months of pregnancy. (Click here for a video that shows what a baby looks like through all 9 months of pregnancy). Since it has human DNA, that makes it a human. And its DNA is different from either its mother or father, so it clearly not just a tissue growth of the father or the mother. More on this point at Christian Cadre, here. An unborn child cannot be the woman’s own body, because then the woman would have four arms, four legs, two heads, four eyes and two different DNA signatures. When you have two different human DNA signatures, you have two different humans.

Secondly, the pro-abortion debater may try to identify a characteristic of the unborn that is not yet present or developed while it is still in the womb, and then argue that because the unborn does not have that characteristic, it does not deserve the protection of the law.

Defending point 2: You need to show that the unborn are not different from the already-born in any meaningful way. The main differences between them are: size, level of development, environment and degree of dependence. Once these characteristics are identified, you can explain that none of these differences provide moral justification for terminating a life. For example, babies inside and outside the womb have the same value, because location does not change a human’s intrinsic value. More at Stand to Reason, here.

Additionally, the pro-abortion debater may try to identify a characteristic of the already-born that is not yet present or developed in the unborn, and then argue that because the unborn does not have that characteristic, that it does not deserve protection, (e.g. – sentience). Most of the these objections that you may encounter are refuted in this essay by Francis Beckwith. Usually these objections fall apart because they assume the thing they are trying to prove, namely, that the unborn deserves less protection than the already born.

Finally, the pro-abortion debater may conceded your points 1 and 2, and admit that the unborn is fully human. But they may then try to provide a moral justification for terminating the life of the unborn, regardless.

Defending point 3: I fully grant that it is sometimes justifiable to terminate an innocent human life, if there is a moral justification. Is there such a justification for abortion? One of the best known attempts to justify abortion is Judith Jarvis Thomson’s “violinist” argument. This argument is summarized by Paul Manata, one of the experts over at Triablogue:

Briefly, this argument goes like this: Say a world-famous violinist developed a fatal kidney ailment and the Society of Music Lovers found that only you had the right blood-type to help. So, they therefore have you kidnapped and then attach you to the violinist’s circulatory system so that your kidneys can be used to extract the poison from his. To unplug yourself from the violinist would be to kill him; therefore, pro-lifers would say a person has to stay attached against her will to the violinist for 9 months. Thompson says that it would be morally virtuous to stay plugged-in. But she asks, “Do you have to?” She appeals to our intuitions and answers, “No.”

Manata then goes on to defeat Thomson’s proposal here, with a short, memorable illustration, which I highly recommend that you check out. More info on how to respond to similar arguments is here.

The best book for beginners on the pro-life view is this book:

For those looking for advanced resources, Francis Beckwith, a professor at Baylor University, published the book Defending Life, with Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Learn about the pro-life case

And some posts motivating Christians and conservatives to take abortion seriously:

Nobel prize awarded for treatments developed with ethical adult stem cells

Wes from Reason to Stand sent me this exciting news from Reuters.

Excerpt:

Scientists from Britain and Japan shared a Nobel Prize on Monday for the discovery that adult cells can be transformed back into embryo-like stem cells that may one day regrow tissue in damaged brains, hearts or other organs.

John Gurdon, 79, of the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge, Britain and Shinya Yamanaka, 50, of Kyoto University in Japan, discovered ways to create tissue that would act like embryonic cells, without the need to collect the cells from embryos.

They share the $1.2 million Nobel Prize for Medicine, for work Gurdon began 50 years ago and Yamanaka capped with a 2006 experiment that transformed the field of “regenerative medicine” – the search for ways to cure disease by growing healthy tissue.

“These groundbreaking discoveries have completely changed our view of the development and specialization of cells,” the Nobel Assembly at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute said.

All of the body starts as stem cells, before developing into tissue like skin, blood, nerves, muscle and bone. The big hope is that stem cells can grow to replace damaged tissue in cases from spinal cord injuries to Parkinson’s disease.

Scientists once thought it was impossible to turn adult tissue back into stem cells. That meant new stem cells could only be created by taking them from embryos, which raised ethical objections that led to research bans in some countries.

As far back as 1962 Gurdon became the first scientist to clone an animal, making a healthy tadpole from the egg of a frog with DNA from another tadpole’s intestinal cell. That showed that developed cells carry the information to make every cell in the body – decades before other scientists made world headlines by cloning the first mammal from adult DNA, Dolly the sheep.

More than 40 years later, Yamanaka produced mouse stem cells from adult mouse skin cells by inserting a small number of genes. His breakthrough effectively showed that the development that takes place in adult tissue could be reversed, turning adult tissue back into cells that behave like embryos.

Stem cells created from adult tissue are known as “induced pluripotency stem cells”, or iPS cells. Because patients may one day be treated with stem cells from their own tissue, their bodies might be less likely to reject them.

Adult stem cells are not popular with the pro-abortion secular leftist crowd, but they do get you a Nobel prize.

Related posts

Ethical adult stem cell treatment leaves two men HIV-free

There are two kinds of stem-cell research. The first kind is called embryonic stem-cell research (ESCR). This kind is opposed by pro-lifers because it kills unborn persons by extracting their stem cells for use in medical research. The second kind is called adult stem-cell research (ASCR). This kind is supported by pro-lifers.

Which kind produces more scientific discoveries and new treatments?

Well, consider this article from Life News which describes a new treatment made possible by ethical adult stem cell research. (H/T Mary)

Excerpt:

Adult stem cells are responsible for another incredible scientific breakthrough.

On Thursday at the AIDS 2012 Conference in Washington, DC, researchers unveiled that two HIV-positive men have been found to be HIV-free following bone marrow transplants. Researchers believe giving bone marrow transplants, which by nature involve the use of adult stem cells, to patients undergoing anti-retroviral therapy could potentially cure the AIDS-causing virus.

“We expected HIV to vanish from the patients’ plasma, but it is surprising that we can’t find any traces of HIV in their cells,” said Dr. Timothy Henrich, one of the researchers studying the two men. “It suggests that under the cover of anti-retroviral therapy, the cells that repopulated the patient’s immune system appear to be protected from becoming re-infected with HIV.”

Only time will tell if the two men have been permanently cured of the virus. “Studies over time including biopsies of lymphatic tissue would be required,” said Dr. Michael Saag, an infectious disease expert from University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Pro-abortion people love to throw money at unethical embryonic stem cell research, but the real cures are all being produced by adult stem cell research.

In case you haven’t been following the controversy over stem cell research and the different viewpoints of the Bush and Obama administrations, here is a good article from Public Discourse that tells the story.

Related posts