Friday, August 05, 2005

James Dobson Owes America An Apology!

This is a blastocyst which is the source of embryonic stem cells:

These are victims of Nazi "medical research" by Josef Mengele:

This is a picture of Mr. James Dobson:

Mr. Dobson doesn't understand that stem cells are from clumps of cells called blastocysts. Blastocysts don't have any organs. They don't have any pain receptors. They don't feel pain. They don't feel fear. They don't feel at all.

But the victims of Nazi medical experiments were often children. Those abused and murdered by Josef Mengele were often twins as young as five years old. Some of the experiments performed by the Nazis included decompression chambers to simulate high altitude, freezing experiments such as those in 1942 in Dachau where prisoners were forced to endure a tank of ice water, sometimes for as long as 3 hours, Malaria experiments where healthy inmates were infected with Malaria, Mustard Gas experiments to investigate the most effective treatment of wounds caused by LOST gas, sea-water and sterilization experiments involving mutilation of thousands of inmates.

Victims of the Nazis were people; men, women and children. People who had family, people who had fear, people who felt pain, anguish, embarassment, and ultimately death.

They were not clumps of cells destined for the garbage heap.

Mr. Dobson on Wednesday stated:
But I have to ask this question,” Dobson said during Wednesday’s program. “In World War II, the Nazis experimented on human beings in horrible ways in the concentration camps, and I imagine, if you wanted to take the time to read about it, there would have been some discoveries there that benefited mankind.”

Unless ethics and morality guide scientific research, “you get what happened in Nazi Germany,” Dobson said.
Let's Review.

This is an blastocyst from which embryonic stem cells are derived:

And these are some more of the victims of Nazi experimentation:

Mr. Dobson owes America an apology!

There were no "discoveries there that benefitted mankind"! As experts have stated:
Doctor Jay Katz of the Yale University School of Law, who emphatically opposed the re-use of the Nazi data, suggests nonetheless that the experiments be republished in full detail so that no one may deny that they occurred. He would then condemn the data to oblivion. Dr. Katz dismissed the Nazi experiments with one phrase: "They're of no scientific value."23

Katz's opinion brings to mind the words of Brigadier General Telford Taylor, Chief Counsel for the prosecution at Nuremberg, when he argued that the Nazi experiments were insufficient and unscientific, "a ghostly failure as well as a hideous crime . . . Those experiments revealed nothing which civilized medicine can use."24 Arnold Relman, editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, similarly stated that the Nazi experiments were such a "gross violation of human standards that they are not to be trusted at all."

Doctor Leonard Hoenig, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of South Florida College of Medicine, categorized the Nazi experiments as "pseudo-science," since the Nazis blurred the distinction between science and sadism. The data was not recorded from scientific hypothesis and research, but rather, it was inspired and administered through racial ideologies of genocide. Doctor Hoenig maintained that nothing scientific could have resulted from sadism.

Allen Buchanan, Philosophy Professor at the University of Arizona, is also a member of the Human Subjects Review Committee at the University of Minnesota. He believes that bad ethics and bad science are inextricably linked together. He found that the human experiments that were ethically sound were also scientifically sound. Therefore, he concluded that since the Nazi experiments were unethical, they were, by equation, scientifically invalid.
To add insult to injury, Dobson works to deny scientists the right to study embryonic stem cells with support from the Federal Government. This research may yet lead to the cures of multiple diseases, including, as recently reported, spinal cord injuries:
Becht and several others with spinal cord injuries attended a news conference yesterday in support of a U of L study that shows that embryonic stem cells may have the potential to treat spinal cord injuries.

"The stem cell is where there's going to be a cure," Becht said.

Genetically engineered stem cells helped paralyzed rats move their legs again, according to the study, published last week in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The rats' spinal cords, partially severed in the lab, began to heal after receiving stem-cell grafts from rat embryos, the report said.

"This type of approach definitely has applicability to human injury," said Scott Whittemore, scientific director of the university's Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center and a lead researcher on the stem-cell project.
So apologize Mr. Dobson!

Apologize to the Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, and political criminals who suffered and died under the hands of the Nazis!

You compare research on clumps of cells to the suffering under the Nazis of millions of men women and children. Shame on you!

And Apologize Mr. Dobson to the victims of Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Spinal cord injury and diabetes. Victims who might benefit from research on these embryonic stem cells.

You interfere with Science by lobbying to stop the funding of research using discarded clumps of cells for the search for cures for Multiple Sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's Disease, Spinal Cord Injury and Diabetes. And you call that a "family value"?

Apologize Mr. Dobson! We are all waiting.



Anonymous Barbara Knotts said...

I don't think this guy owes anyone an apology. All he was saying was the Nazis thought they were doing a good thing. He didn't say HE thought they were doing a good thing. Personally, I think using embryonic stem cells for research is murder. Just because a baby doesn't look like a baby at that stage doesn't mean it isn't a living being. I'm fine with umbilical cord use, but killing embryos for research is just as bad as what the Nazis did in my opinion. THEY thought they were going to benefit mankind through THIER research, too. I'd rather not be like the Nazis, thank you.

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yours was a good blog. Yours was an important blog. It was also very instuctive to read Barbara Knotts response. It informs us of the failure of logic and reason to change deeply fixed ideas.
Keep blogging!


10:09 AM  
Blogger BobsAdvice said...

Thank you MAB.

Barbara, I am afraid that you also fail to be able to distinguish between clumps of cells that are destined for the garbage (old embryos at the blastocyst level that are about to be destroyed) and men, women, and children who were murdered, mutilated, starved, abused, and otherwise destroyed by the Nazis.

I have reason to take offense.

You may feel it is immoral to take a blastocyst and destroy it, but clearly you can see the difference! Blastocysts, if they were implanted, might indeed become people. But then again, science may show that any clump of cells with a complete DNA complement may soon become a person. You stretch credulity along with Dobson claiming to see no difference.


10:58 AM  
Anonymous Barbara Knotts said...

From Merriam-Webster's On-Line Dictionary:

Embryo - 1 a archaic : a vertebrate at any stage of development prior to birth or hatching b : an animal in the early stages of growth and differentiation that are characterized by cleavage, the laying down of fundamental tissues, and the formation of primitive organs and organ systems; especially : the developing human individual from the time of implantation to the end of the eighth week after conception;
3 a : something as yet undeveloped b : a beginning or undeveloped state of something

Blastula - : an early metazoan embryo typically having the form of a hollow fluid-filled rounded cavity bounded by a single layer of cells

This all boils down to when you think life begins. Both of those definitions suggest living organisms, not dead ones. I believe life begins at conception. That embryonic stage is early enough for me ... whether they are "old" embryos or "new" embryos. There may not be feet and hands but it's still a living thing with the possibility of becoming a person to me.

Obviously life doesn't begin for you at conception. You need to ask yourself ... well, when DOES it begin? Where is your line? Mine line is drawn much earlier than yours. I don't see how that's a failure in logic. It's just a difference of opinion. You can see how I would think of it as murder since I believe embryos to be living things. You do not believe that, therefore experimentation on them is okay with you. Totally understandable even if I don't agree with it.

2:13 PM  
Blogger BobsAdvice said...


The specific question is whether these blastocysts, which are indeed clumps of cells, which are destined to be destroyed are a good source for scientific investigation. It is not a question of whether they are alive. If I scrape the inside of my cheek with a spoon and I have a clump of cells, I haven't murdered anyone have I? Even if these clumps of cells are alive?

The question is whether this is on the same level as what the Nazis did. If you think that working on clumps of cells that are destined for the garbage...and that is an important point (!), is the same as what Nazis did to little children and men and women, I think you need a bit of a reorientation.

The ethical problem has been dealt with in other countries which prohibit working on cells that have developed a neural crest, the primitive spinal cord. This is before any sensory organs, etc., but is considered the limit on experimentation.

The problem grows more complex as our ability to take any group of cells in the human body and develop an embryo with it. Would that make it murder as well?

Anyhow, thanks again for writing. I believe you can see the difference between experimenting on blastocysts and young children. Perhaps if you would agree that this is a difference in degree we could start somewhere. Maybe you find both unethical. But I don't find it unethical to help an infertile couple have a child, do you? And what then do you do with the extra clumps of embryos?

Are you also against capital punishment?

What do you think about eating animals?

Just a thought.


6:37 PM  
Anonymous Barbara Knotts said...

You never answered my question of when you think life begins, hehe. :P To answer your other off-topic questions:

I'm not okay with capital punishment because you just don't know if the guy really did the deed. There's always that off chance you are killing an innocent person. Unlikely, but possible. My other reason is I think it's worse punishment to keep them in jail for life, also. I think that makes them suffer more.

I'm definitely NOT a vegetarian. I am a carnivoure. That's why I have sharp teeth! *shows teeth*. I love meat and I definitly know where meat comes from. I raise livestock (dairy goats and chickens).

Back to the topic at hand ... I believe if it's a human embryo and if it's alive then it's murder to kill it. Ask yourself those questions. Is it human? Is it alive? If the answer is yes to both questions then your only option is it is murder to kill it, right? But if it is no to either or both questions then you have no problem. I don't know what your answer is to those questions. Obviously it must be no to one or both. There is our difference.

I used to be pro-choice when I was a teen-ager. But having grown up and experienced more in life, including pregnancy, and seeing the ultrasounds and reading more about biology and science in relation to pregnancy, I've changed my mind over the years. It's because my feelings over when life begins have changed. I used to think it was okay to have an abortion if it was before a stage where there were no bodily organs, but I've changed my mind on that because I would have to be able to say that that clump of cells is not going to become a person if allowed to mature. This is probably due to the fact that I've had two children and miscarried a couple of times, also. That obviously colors my thinking. I just can't imagine having killed them when they were a clump of cells and weren't "formed enough" yet to be considered human by others.

Yes, I do think it's the same as what the Nazi's did because I don't think embryos should BE thrown away into the garbage to begin with. How can we be so careless with human life like that? We need to develop some kind of procedure for helping people have children that doesn't involve killing so many "unwanted" embryos. Basically you are saying it's okay to kill them because someone else was going to kill them first anyway.

Talking about cells from your cheek is totally different than talking about an embryo. Skin cells are not embryos so no, you haven't killed a person. Don't be silly. Sure ... maybe you could MAKE them embryos, but then we are right back to this topic again.

Enough said on this topic for me. I'm talked out. We aren't going to change each other's minds. hehe. (Although I am curious about when you think life begins. I answered YOUR questions. :P) It's been fun. Thank you.

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Barbara Knotts said...

One more thing I forgot to add ... if you take that thought of those embryos are going to be destroyed anyway one step further you can say ... those death row prisoners are going to be killed anyway so why don't we experiment on them. Just like the Nazis. No thanks.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Glyn (Zaphod) Evans said...

Wow. Very good blog. I think comparing modern day genetic research with Nazi experimentation is infantile. They are two completely different things. Perhaps some people are happy to throw away all of this research and never find cures for disease and disability on the genetic level, but I for one, am all for it.
Heck I will scrape the inside of my cheek right now for genetic research if it will help.
I also think that the distinction you have made between undeveloped clumps of cells and actual living, breathing people is remarkeable. It goes to show how close minded some folks can be.
And to avoid the wrath of Barbara, I would suggest the life begins when a male and female cell first join. Of course, to go way off topic I also believe that this life can realistically be ended under the proper circumstances and with the correct thoughts beforehand by the mother and her doctor. That being said, a single celled-life is NOT the same as a 5 year old child, or a 90 year old man.
Sorry Barbara... get out of the dark ages. Mankind will never advance beyond the savages we are quickly becoming if *safe* cell research isn't followed...

12:56 PM  
Blogger IFK Editor said...

Bob, your original post is dead on, but I do appreciate Barbara's contributions. Thank you both for maintaining a mostly civil tone.

Perhaps another distinction to add to the topic is the cell's "potential" for life. Perhaps life does "potentially" begin at conception, however the female body routinely rejects fertilized eggs as a normal bodily function. To take it to the extreme, should we bring these women up on charges of murder?

Look, science is regularly making this discussion more difficult because we can see how quickly those cells divide and resemble humans, however there can be ethically regulated research that balances both concerns.

The bottom line is that the genie is out of the bottle and the US is falling way behind other nations in research while other countries have already decided this debate and set morally acceptable standards for research.

5:04 PM  

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