If I Were A Blastocyst Would You Still Love Me?

March 24, 2009 09:00 AM

Egregious as it is, not to mention arrogant and evil, there are still people in this world who either refuse to admit that if not for their first days of life, they would not be who they are today, or who do know what they once were, but still insist that those who are today what they themselves once were must die anyway! I just read a commentary by one of those people and it shocked me!  After all these years, you would think that I would be numbed by all that has gone on within the shadowy underworld of the culture of death, it still stuns me that some people are so ignorant of basic truth and fundamental scientific fact.

Eric Mink is the commentary editor for the St. Louis Post Dispatch and he writes for other publications as well. I am sure he is a fine man but his opinions on human embryonic stem cell research are so far off base that I can only surmise that he has forgotten his roots.

But let's begin at the beginning, with the blastocyst stage of a human being's life. According to the Carnegie Stages of human development, the blastocyst exists from about the fourth day of a human being's life until the sixth or seventh day.

As Professor Dianne Irving describes it,

This single-cell embryo is totipotent, that is, capable of forming all the cells, tissues, and organs of the later embryo, fetus, and adult. The cells (blastomeres) of the early developing human embryo will also exhibit a range of totipotency, that is, if separated from the developing embryo, these totipotent cells are capable of forming new human organisms (as in natural and artificial monozygotic identical "twinning"). This totipotent capacity also applies to the cells of the developing embryo from 2 cells (about 1/2-3 days) until the first formation of the free floating blastocystic cavity (about 4 days), to the cells of the inner cell mass of the implanting blastocyst (about 5-7 days), and to the diploid primitive germ-line cells (future haploid sex gametes) (as early as 2 1/2 -12 weeks) of the later blastocyst….

This may sound Greek to you but it is extremely important in view of what Mr. Mink is attempting to tell the naïve public in his recent commentary. Mr. Mink has asked his readers

Would it be right for society to treat the five-day-old blastocyst — which has no body, no brain, no heart, no spinal cord, no nervous system, no placenta — as the legal and moral equivalent of the baby, the young student and the older woman?

Would it be right, Mr. Mink, to have killed you for your stem cells at this stage in your life? Hmmmm! Probably would cause you a bit of angst right now, don't you think? Oh, I forgot, if you had been killed at five days of age, you would not have been able to think, even though all that your body needed to be what you are today was present and accounted for at that time.

Mr. Mink is one of those people who, having survived the actual preborn cycle of growth for human persons, has decided that he has the right to suggest that other human beings at the earliest stages of their lives should be deemed less than human, less than persons, less valuable, but valuable enough to rob them of their lives in order to acquire their stem cells for research. It has always fascinated me that everybody who favors this research has survived their earliest period of life unscathed and obviously alive!

Mr. Mink quotes from a special report that emanates from the pro-human embryonic stem cell research National Institutes of Health, an arm of the federal government:

The principal ethical and religious objection to hES [human embryonic stem] cell research is that the derivation of hES cells involves the destruction of the blastocyst, which is regarded by some people as a human being….Like all scientific work involving human embryos, hES cell research raises profound questions about the status of the human embryo, the extent to which it is justifiable to use human embryos to expand knowledge and ameliorate human suffering, and the conditions under which these goals may be pursued. Throughout its deliberations, the committee was keenly aware that some view human embryos as morally equivalent to born human persons....

In contrast, many religious traditions — Islam, Judaism, and numerous Protestant denominations — do not recognize the human embryo before 40 days after conception as an entity that should be accorded the same moral status as a person.... To be sure, in these traditions, the human embryo may have greater moral status than other collections of cells, but not so much that its cells may not be respectfully applied toward the other goals to which the faithful are committed.... This diversity of deeply held views must be respected. However, that respect does not require that we, as a society, prohibit hES cell research, but rather that our society create institutions for the oversight of this research that, with due moral seriousness, take into account the special status of the human embryo.

Note that the sum and substance of this quote from the scientific arm of the federal government sets forth a type of moral relativism  that literally equates the value and dignity of the human being with the results of a poll. In this case, according to NIH and apparently Mr. Mink, the moral status of the human embryo is in question and therefore even though some views to the contrary are "respected," society can go right ahead and murder these people anyway!

This is the equivalent of stating that the residents of a nursing home who have a particular condition could at some future date be relegated to less than human status if a diversity of opinion were to arise among a certain group of policy makers regarding whether or not these patients were human enough to be cared for any longer. Such bunk is ludicrous and inane yet at the same time the obvious basis for arriving at public policy statements.

It is enough to make one shudder!

When I was younger, I remember fondly listening to June Carter and Johnny Cash sing "If I were a Carpenter." One of the lines of that song goes like this: "If I worked my hands in wood, would you still love me?"

I thought about that today as I read Eric Mink's commentary and wondered how many lawmakers, writers, scientists or policy makers ever sat down and contemplated the question, "If I were a blastocyst, would you still love me?"

Anybody who is reading this was a blastocyst and God loved you then as much as He does now. But that is God's way; it is clearly not man's.

It occurs to me that there is a great sadness that has invaded our land. Many no longer love those who are unseen, yet still very much alive. American culture has become utilitarian in its worldview. Human dignity is a non-sequitur to those who have placed science above all else as the supreme entity to which man owes his allegiance. Those who hold such views for the most part are more interested in self-adulation and personal acclaim than in loving others for their own sake.

If I were a blastocyst, would you still love me?

Sadly, the answer is no, not really. At least not people like Mr. Mink who claims to care very much about "all mankind" but far too little for the individual human being. And though I hate to burst Mink's bubble, there is one thing that he should be thinking about. The blastocyst that might one day have grown up and found an ethical cure for Alzheimer's could well be among the dead already.

"If I were a blastocyst, would you still love me?"

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