One of the smartest takes you'll read:
"Most Americans believe there are gradations of life. Some living things are more alive than others, and so the later in the pregnancy it gets, the more uncomfortable people become with the idea of ending it. But in reality they believe both that a life stirs very early on and that a one-week-old embryo is more "killable" than a nine-month-old fetus. For them, determining whether "life" begins at conception really doesn't determine anything."Or, as George Carlin said (yeah, I quote him a lot, but I love the guy): "People say life begins at conception? I say life began about a billion years ago, and it's a continuous process."
Which is why the whole debate over stem-cell research is an open-and-shut case in favor of stem cell research: You're working on a collection of cells that are about 150 in number. There are no higher brain or organ functions because those don't even exist. It's never going to feel pain. More to the point, it's a fertilized egg that's a holdover from IVF treatments that is never going to be implanted, and is going to be thrown out if it isn't used for medical research. Jason Rosenhouse:
"The fact is that the embryo goes through a continuum. At conception it is plainly not a human being in any reasonable sense. At birth it is a human being in every sense. In between you have a grey area, as it gradually becomes more and more human-like. Any sharp line you try to draw will inevitably be a bit arbitrary, and doubtless there are difficult moral questions to be answered as we approach plausible line-drawing points. The fact remains that the sort of stem-cell research that is being seriously proposed is unambiguously on the “morally acceptable” side of the line."Which is why people who oppose stem cell research are completely off base. There is no moral quandry to be had. It's not human, we're not killing babies, we're going to destroy it anyway. The greatest crime is not letting those cells be put to good use in the first place.
Oh, and this isn't in the abstract, either. UPI:
"British scientists say they have developed a stem procedure that will reverse the most common cause of blindness, age-related macular degeneration.
The procedure, pioneered by the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London and Moorfields eye hospital, involves replacing a layer of degenerated eye cells with new ones obtained from embryonic stem cells, The Sunday Times of London reported."
Bonus reading material: Waldman is also the guy who made Rick Warren look bad in this wonderfully dry-witted post.