Re: Fetal tissue

Arjen Kamphuis (
Tue, 3 Mar 1998 17:15:32 +0100 (CET)

At 20:41 2-03-98 -0500, you wrote:
>I wrote:
>> Since the fetus at this stage is nearly indistinguisable from most other
>> mammals and many other vertebrates that would mean that a pig fetus has
>> same value & rights as a human, after birth the fetus somehow loses that
>> value/those right and it's ok to use it as a source of protein. Unless, of
>> course, you believe that a human fetus has something called a 'soul' from
>> the moment of conception.
>I find it most hypocritically ironic that liberals who would go into
>apopleptic fits if I shot a wild animal don't even sniff if a human
>fetus is aborted in a rather gruesome manner minutes prior to birth.

I agree with you 100%, I often have 'lively' discussions with my
'left-wing-liberal' friends about this. In my view anybody who wants to
consume animals should at least be _willing_ to do some of the killing
him/herself (I realize that the actual killing of animals for consumption
might not always practical in society today). It's the principal that matters.

>I approve of abortion, the death penalty, the right to suicide, legality of
>assisted suicide, self defense with deadly weapons, and the hunting of and
>consumption of animals. At least someone here is consistent.

I'm not against the death-penalty in principal but as I see it it's
preventative effects on society as a whole are unclear (and I believe that
a justice system should be based on prevention rather than revenge). Other
than that I more or less argee with you.

Reilly Jones <> wrote:
>Enemy? Why, the mother's unborn child and how it's viewed, take your pick:
>as imperfection, denier of comfort, inconvenience, responsibility, the
>weak, life itself, etc.

How do you know that all woman who have abortions view their child as an
enemy? Do think they walk away from an abortion smiling, saying: gotcha! I
think it's a little more complex than that (understatement of the century).

>What's wrong with picketing as a form of political
>activism? Is human life not worth defending? It's OK if your
>reli-fanatic-alarm went off, my kneejerk bigotry alarm went off in response
>to this, in fact, I think I heard the pilot light on the camp ovens turn

I don't think comparing womans clinics to nazi-death camps is appropriate.
Have you ever been present at an abortion or seen a concentrationcamp?
There's plenty of opportunity of both around the world. I suggest that
untill you have you stop making these kind of comparisons. Certain people
on this list might get extremely upset.

><Since the fetus at this stage is nearly indistinguisable from most other
>mammals and many other vertebrates that would mean that a pig fetus has the
>same value & rights as a human, after birth the fetus somehow loses that
>value/those right and it's ok to use it as a source of protein.>
>This may be true for very primitive humanity, but for many moons now,
>enlightened humanity can tell quite easily which is pig and which is human.
>Do a web search on "human genome project, and in vitro fertilization" and
>follow the links if you don't believe me.

I think you will find that most listmembers are very much aware of
technologies like IVF and genetic engineering. The existance of these
technologies does not change the ethics one bit. From the perspective of
the fetus it is irrelevant whether it is a pig or a human, up to a point.
And somewhere before this point abortion becomes illegal. The fetus now has
the status of human with all the usual rights attached.

>Also, regarding pig rights and
>sources of proteins, you might do a web search on "animal rights,
>bioethics, vegetarian, & Jainism" and follow the links. After a couple of
>years of in depth research on the topic, you may begin to see that the
>development of animals has been a political question for a very long time.

Nonetheless, most people have no problems with the killing of animals for
consumption. This does not make it ok but it's evilness is, to say the
least, debatable.

>Interestingly, the same groups that want animal rights typically support
>mothers murdering their unborn children.

Don't hold me (or anyone on this list) responsable for opinions I do not

>Likewise, the same groups that
>lobbied to have alcohol and tobacco warnings for pregnancy typically
>support the right to murder what the warnings are meant to protect.

Yes. They supported the possibility for each mother to make an informed
decicion for herself (and what could _possibly_ be wrong with that?).

>If a
>mother can murder her unborn child, why can't she smoke and drink to her
>heart's content without being warned about it?

She can. Ultimately it's her responsability. Nobody can stop her (legally
or technically).

> Even the most hardcore
>ethical relativist has a twinge of conscience over the birth of crack
>babies, permanently maimed human beings, maimed in the area of volitional
>freedom. Yet if a mother can murder her developing child, why can't she
>smoke all the crack she can afford? If the unborn child is just fetal
>tissue, why not genetically engineer it in vitro or in utero to become a
>slave or worker drone?

As long as you keep clouding the issue by calling abortion 'murder' this is
not going anywhere. And why in the hell would we want to create drones?
(even if we could). We need more smart people, not stupid ones.

>Why not maim it deliberately, using worse methods
>than crack, just out of cussedness, that's freedom of choice isn't it?

Yes it is and neither you nor I nor all the laws in the world can chance
this. It's the responsibility of the mother.

>There will never be an anti-cloning or anti-designer baby law that will
>hold water with the Supreme Court until Roe v. Wade is overturned. The
>right to murder an unborn baby because it has been defined away coincides
>with the right to use the baby however the mother wishes to use it. They
>are inseparable.

B.S. (pardon my French). Aside from the fact that I'm not specifically
looking forward to a anti-cloning law, it's perfectly feasable to have a
law allowing abortion to a certain number of weeks after conception. I know
this because we have such a law in the Netherlands.

><The parallel-server that I'm working on has no intelligence and thus no
>value&rights as a consious being.>
>I can't make sense out of this. Are you saying that the possession of
>intelligence is the source of rights?

The ability to have Intelligence & consiousness.

>How much intelligence is enough to
>get on the rights wagon? Who defines intelligence and why is it the same
>as consciousness?

Killing a fly, fish or cow seems to be no ethical problem to most humans,
killing a chimp is more difficult and only allowable for very specific
medical research, killing a human unnaceptable unless in a self-defense
situation. I _think_ most people will agree on this.

>Maybe all it takes is a processor-upgrade and smarter software? That would
>mean that this 'lump of metal' is a potential consious being. O dear. What
>right do I have feeding it all these problems that I want to have solved.>
>This is strange reasoning. Where do you think rights come from? If we are
>unconscious, say when we're sleeping or in a coma, do our rights go away?

Of course not! If a machine was smart enough to pretend it's a human over
E-mail or the phone (passes the Turing test) then pulling the plug would
have to involve some ethical debate. All consious beings should be treated
with respect whether they are humans, dolphins or computers.

>If everything that has the potential of becoming a human has the rights of
>a human then we're comitting mass-murder every time we have sex.>
>I don't know who you are arguing against here, but it's certainly not me.
>A fertilized egg with a normal full set of chromosomes is the starting
>point for human development, not earlier.


>At that point, with genetic
>engineering, we can modify what nature hath brought together.

also before that and after that. What's new?

>environmental factors that influence the whole development of a human begin
>right at this point, and it is these factors that produce a unique human
>entity every time, no matter how identical the raw material is to begin
>with. The environmental factors are all political questions, e.g., smoking
>and alcohol advisory warnings for pregnancy.

And in all these matter the woman in question decides (who else?).

><What's so special about that? lot's of cells contain a complete set (and a
>good thing they do!>
>But I didn't specify any old cell, now did I? What's the point of this

I meant to point out that with the current state of technology the
difference between a fertilized egg-cell and many other cells does not have
to be a fundamental one.

><Ah yes, but the political conclusion that was reached in most modern
>countries was: "This is a choice the woman in question must decide for
>herself, after having been duly advised of the pro's and con's." or
>something like that. If you have an alternative, practical, model for
>deciding these things I'd love to hear it.>
>In America, no political conclusion has been reached, only a judicial
>usurpation of the political question.

This shot is too easy to make (it's also pretty cheap) and since I
admire&respect many listmembers I won't make it.
I'll just say that sex-education & certain legislation may be leave
something to be desired in the US (Maybe if the sex-education was a bit
better most abortions would never be neccecary in the first place; prevent
& solve, don't illegalize).

>This is judicial tyranny, to define
>away human life without recourse to the Constitutional Amendment process,
>such as was used when slavery was abolished. Slavery and abortion are all
>about the private ownership and disposition of human life.

Depends on your defenition of human life. By law & consesus an fertalized
egg is not a human, a fetus more than a certain number of weeks is.

>My alternative is polycentrism, or particularism, many jurisdictions trying
>out many different treatments of the issue.

That's what's happening. In most western countries abortion is more or less
legal, not in all countries however (Ireland, the Vatican). Move to the
Vatican if you want, don't expect me to follow.

>The judiciary cannot usurp the
>legislative role. Individuals should have the choice to move to
>jurisdictions that honor life, or that worship death.

They do (or is thee some law that forbids you to emigrate?)

>The type of society
>that evolves in each jurisdiction will provide the incentive or
>disincentive for movement, but I know from moral reasoning from first
>principles that families trying to raise children will be drawn towards
>jurisdictions with an ethic of protecting and enhancing life.

If you have a 14 year old daughter who is raped by someone with a genetic
defect and becomes pregnant would you rather live in a 'jurisdiction' that
totally illegalizes abortion or in one here your daughter can decide to
have one (or not) for herself?

><Fact is that after an abortion the remains of the fetus are usualy
>destroyed, a great waste since some of the tissue's have great medical
>potential. If destroying it is acceptable, why would medical use (with
>permission of course) not be?>
>Why would permission be needed? If the sewage treatment plant wants to
>make use of a mother's fecal material, no one expects it to ask for
>permission, and the fetal tissue in the eyes of the law is exactly
>equivalent to fecal matter.

You stated earlier that there was no real law in this area in the US. Too
bad. IN many other countries there is and there is a _very_ clear
distiction between an aborted fetus and human excrement.

>Even better than medical use, why not eat them
>as gourmet delectables, like milk-fed veal with great nutritional value?

Yeah, that's right. let's keep the discussion rational and stuctured.

>What's wrong with cannabilism?

Nothing (did you see 'Alive'). The problem is the killing part, not the
eating part.

>What's wrong with the Chinese Communists
>harvesting body organs without "permission" from prisoners they've bumped
>off and selling them on the world market?

I suggest you debate the ethical nature of the Chinese penal system with
someone who's more 'pro death-penalty' than I am. The ethical problem in my
view is not the organ harvesting but the execution of 30.000 people yearly
for things that should not be criminal in the first place (political
activity, drug use, distribution of porn...).

>What's wrong with
>commercializing all life, at all stages of development, including humans,
>intelligent or otherwise, conscious or otherwise? Just make all life into
>products in the marketplace, all custom designed for any use whatsoever?
>"If destroying it is acceptable," why would any use not be, living or dead?

See above, a baby gains certain rights beyond a specific number of weeks
after conception. This is not perfect from an ethical viewpoint, but it is

| Philosophy of Technology:
| The rational, moral and political relations
| between 'How we create' and 'Why we create'

You've created this? Wow. Do tell (pay attention Max, you might be out of a
job ;-).

>Entropyfoe <> wrote:
>From: Arjen Kamphuis <>
>>Fact is that after an abortion the remains of the fetus are usualy
>>destroyed, a great waste since some of the tissue's have great medical
>>potential. If destroying it is acceptable, why would medical use (with
>>permission of course) not be?
>Destroying "tissue" is perceived as better, because of fear that medical
>would encourage abortion, morally off setting the destruction of
>life/consciousness with a medical benefit.

I know this is tricky terrain. Imagine the following situation:
A person has a brain/nerve disorder that could become lethal in 2 years
orso, there is no cure. With an implant of compatible fetal nervetissue the
person could be saved. Would it be unethical if the persons sister became
pregnant only to provide such material? And could you explain to this
person why?

>But what if we can manufacture the genes and tissues in pig fetus ?

That's the solution I'm for in the near-future. This would solve many
ethical problems (IMHO) concerning transplantation. For now however, we
have to make due with messier solutions (and try to find some ethical
answer for them).


Arjen Kamphuis | "Here Be Dragons", read the ancient maps | in all the white spots that seemed large
enough to hold the fabled creatures.

let's go dragon hunting.

Transcedo, the Dutch Transhumanist site: