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Scientists in South Korea, unhampered by the tradition of anti-intellectualism that still bedevils the United States, have made a major breakthrough in stem cell research. They took eggs from volunteers, snipped out the nuclei, and inserted nuclei from the skin of eleven patients sick with various disorders. They then jump-started cell division, and the resulting cells were as though they came from the 11 patients. Ideally this process could be used to grow organs and regenerate brain and nerve cells, so as to cure a variety of diseases, including Alzheimer’s.
The US Congress may actually do the right thing and loosen restrictions on Federal stem cell research. But the bill is opposed by rightwing Christian congressmen who have the odd idea that their religion teaches that “life begins at conception.”
The problem is that no religious scriptures teach any such thing. No one even knew about conception (i.e. the fertilization of eggs by spermatazoa) until recently. If you think about it, the discovery had to come after the invention of the microscope. When the Bible and the New Testament were written, and for centuries after among church fathers and authorities, life was thought to begin with the “quickening” (i.e. when the mother could feel the baby move). A blastocyte is not a human being and it is not a person. It is a blastocyte. It may or may not develop into a human being. Large numbers of fertilized eggs never get attached to the uterine wall and just get flushed down the toilet. Shall we hold a funeral for each of them? The poor deluded fundamentalists who know about this even think they will meet brothers and sisters in heaven that they never knew about. And on such irrational and frankly stupid bases (who told them they were going to heaven?), they want to forbid us to cure Alzheimers, and want to force raped women to give birth to the babies of their rapists. It makes a person want to tear hair out, thinking about it.
International Criminal Court and Bush? Billmon has photoshopped it. It isn’t likely to happen, but his photo is amusing.
Galloway vs. Coleman: That’s going to leave a mark.