Responding to Kmiec

posted at 11:38 am on March 30, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Dan Gilgoff at US News asks readers to contribute to a debate between Robby George and Douglas Kmiec, two Catholic legal scholars, on the nature of human life, abortion, cloning, and stem-cell research.  Gilgoff oddly refers to Kmiec as a conservative despite Kmiec’s support for Barack Obama and defense of Obama’s stem-cell policies and apologetics over Obama’s abortion stands.  Kmiec asked Gilgoff to solicit answers to a series of questions that the two will eventually debate in face-to-face meetings, and the first one is a dead giveaway to the spin Kmiec will provide:

Q. Assume we need a relatively clear answer to the question “When does life begin?” in order to avoid ethical arbitrariness and to show proper respect for the dignity of the human person. The Supreme Court, of course, has selected viability, but this is objectionable to many since it does not seem to be anything but an arbitrary point designed as a jurisprudential compromise. Since either fertilization or implantation is a bright line, is there a basis to decide between the two that is not dependent upon faith?

That issue has not been about faith for decades, if not a century or more, when biology began to be understood on a cellular level.  Life for multicellular organisms is absolutely and unequivocally demonstrated by the cellular multiplication process known as mitosis.  When a cell divides and multiplies, the organism is alive.  When the human zygote transforms into a blastomere as it travels down the Fallopian tube, it is alive — and since it has a unique DNA, it is a unique human life apart from its mother (or father) regardless of whether the blastomere implants successfully or not.

Kmiec is trying to make this question more complicated than it is, a quite obvious gambit from the rest of the questions he asks Gilgoff to publish.  The question of life is not one of faith, but science.  However, abortion advocates have been trying to distract people from the scientific certainty that abortion destroys human life.  They speak of “ensoulment” as if one could measure it, or implantation as if that has anything to do with the issue of abortion.  It does impact the issue of embryonic experimentation, though, because if Kmiec and others can argue that life somehow doesn’t exist until transplantation, then it gives hEsc researchers an ethics carte blanche to do whatever they want with IVF-produced embryos.

Faith does not speak to when the biological process of life begins or is present.  It speaks to what we do with human life once established.  Kmiec’s questions are designed to confuse the issues through overcomplication and sophistry.  Kmiec and other hEsc and abortion apologists want to avoid the obvious scientific conclusion that abortion and experimentation destroy human life and instead argue on the fringes about irrelevancies.  I’d have a lot more respect for Kmiec if he just argued that he sees human life as having only a practical value — but then he wouldn’t get described as a conservative any longer, and would have to get lumped in with more honest advocates like Peter Singer.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

The context is an embryo, knot a skin cell, you poor fool. You cannot try such lame fallacies and not expect to be called out on them.

No, the context is “when does a human life begin”? There are many answers to that question. Ed sees the moment of fertilization as the only one that matters. I have offered up my entire appendix, and someone else brought up skin cells, as examples of cells with unquestionably human DNA, which are alive, but are not “a human life”. I have also given examples where a single human has more than one set of unique DNA in his body, and where more than one human share the same DNA that sprang from a single fertilization.

The entire point of this exercise is to demonstrate the logical flaws in considering fertilization the beginning of a human life. If you find my comments ridiculous, it’s because you don’t understand “indirect proof”.

The Monster on March 30, 2009 at 2:08 PM

Life?

In short: skin cells, sperm, and all yoru other lame attempts at changing the subject from human embryos? No.

Embryo? Yes.

Now please stay to the topic.

OrdinaryColoradan on March 30, 2009 at 2:09 PM

No Monset, its because we find you using fallacious argumentation techniques and propagandistic methods.

OrdinaryColoradan on March 30, 2009 at 2:09 PM

So again “Monster”, if you are done bein disingenuous and obfuscating via red-herrings…

1) An Embryo is a form of life.
Yes from the definition of life
2) An Embryo is a human.
Yes from DNA

Therefore an embryo is a human life.

Thus it follows that destruction of an embryo is destruction of human life.

That much science does tell us.

Right and Wrong is the next argument, which you seem unwilling to engage.

OrdinaryColoradan on March 30, 2009 at 2:13 PM

Monster, you are being disingenuous – and using multiple fallacious arguments, all while dodging the central question.

here, to nail your slippery little lying feet to the floor:

1. Homeostasis
2. Organization
3. Metabolism
4. Growth
5. Adaptation
6. Response to stimuli
7. Reproduction

Your ad-hominem (“lying”) notwithstanding, which of those things can a fertilized egg do (for a meaningful length of time) without implanting in a uterus?

The Monster on March 30, 2009 at 2:14 PM

1) An Embryo is a form of life.
Yes from the definition of life
2) An Embryo is a human.
Yes from DNA

Therefore an embryo is a human life.

Again, what is there in the above that distinguishes a fertilized egg, the undifferentiated mass of cells into which it originally divides, an appendix, a skin cell, or a sperm, from an embryo? If you’re going to use Ed’s definition, which specifically says a fertilized egg is a human life, regardless of whether it is ever implanted into a uterus, then you have to explain why those other things aren’t “a human life”.

Your insistence that this is about embryos is what’s changing the subject, which is Ed’s definition.

The Monster on March 30, 2009 at 2:18 PM

OhioCoastie on March 30, 2009 at 1:42 PM
.
.
A fertilized human egg is a human life separate from, but dependent on his mother.

darktood on March 30, 2009 at 2:18 PM

Monster, are you being deliberately stupid or are you just trolling? Its hard to tell the difference.

I just laid the subject out, and you keep changing it rather than addressing the question as put.

Do you deny that the embryo meets the scientific, biological criteria for life?

Do you deny that the embryo is human based scientific biological criteria of classification, based on DNA?

So are you then denying science or do you deny logic?

Or are you simply evading again?

OrdinaryColoradan on March 30, 2009 at 2:21 PM

And its not ad-hominem to state a truth, such as you are a liar.

OrdinaryColoradan on March 30, 2009 at 2:22 PM

A fertilized human egg is a human life separate from, but dependent on his mother.

In vitro, it does not yet have a mother. It may yet, as I’ve alluded, separate into identical twins, triplets, quads…

The Octomom had six embryos implanted into her uterus, two of which divided into separate babies. If it is the moment of fertilization that defines “a human life”, then what makes those additional two children “human lives”?

The Monster on March 30, 2009 at 2:23 PM

A fertilized human egg is a human life separate from, but dependent on his mother.

darktood on March 30, 2009 at 2:18 PM

True. What conclusion follows from that fact?

OhioCoastie on March 30, 2009 at 2:24 PM

Anf FYI, substitute zygote and it does not change a thing about the definition.

It still meets the criteria for life and is still human based on its dna.

OrdinaryColoradan on March 30, 2009 at 2:24 PM

Ed’s definition, which specifically says a fertilized egg is a human life,

But this is an obvious falsehood.
A human diploid oocyte is not a “human life”.
A human diploid oocyte is a DNA blueprint for building an individual of species homo sapiens sapiens.
The fertilized egg is no more a human life than an architects blueprints are a relized house.

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 2:25 PM

Monster, are you being deliberately stupid or are you just trolling? Its hard to tell the difference.

I just laid the subject out, and you keep changing it rather than addressing the question as put.

On the contrary, the subject of my comments is Ed’s definition. I am not changing anything. I am pointing out that his definition is not adequate, by showing other things that fit his definition that are not “human lives” and things that do not fit it that are.

If you are not defending Ed’s definition, then we’re talking past each other, because I’m not talking about anything other than his definition. If you are defending his definition, then you’re doing a bad job of it.

The Monster on March 30, 2009 at 2:26 PM

Again “Monster” does it meet the biological definition of life? Yes. Is it human? Yes.

You cannot escape that argument. Its science.

OrdinaryColoradan on March 30, 2009 at 2:26 PM

realized house.
lol

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 2:26 PM

FYI: the Mengele argument… When do you draw the line for disposing of human lives? It depends on your ethics. And that’s what the argument should be about.

OrdinaryColoradan on March 30, 2009 at 2:28 PM

OK, I can see that you will never admit to the basics. SO go on believing your way – despite its fundamental flaw at the foundation. I have work to do and cannot spend any more time arguing with a fool.

OrdinaryColoradan on March 30, 2009 at 2:29 PM

Again “Monster” does it meet the biological definition of life? Yes. Is it human? Yes.

You cannot escape that argument. Its science.

OrdinaryColoradan on March 30, 2009 at 2:26 PM

By your definition haploid oocytes (un-fertilized) are also “human life”.
Now that is Real Science.
;)

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 2:29 PM

Again “Monster” does it meet the biological definition of life? Yes. Is it human? Yes.

Either you explain how identical twins are both human lives and a chimera is only one human life in the context of Ed’s definition or you are talking about something other than what I’m talking about.

It is increasingly clear that you are talking about something else, as Ed’s definition does not include the word “embryo”.

The Monster on March 30, 2009 at 2:33 PM

The fertilized egg is no more a human life than an architects blueprints are a relized house.

Bad analogy – the blueprints do not spontanously develop into a house. A fertilized egg WILL spontaneously develop.

That development begins at conception and continues until death. Most humans reach their full adult gropwth around age 17. Shall we decide that “human life” begins at 17, then? A 70-year-old has a lifetime of experience, and so is a very different person than she was at 17. Is a 70-year old “more human” than a 17 year old? No.

The only fundamental difference between a fertilized human egg and an adult human is time. The DNA hasn’t changed. It’s a human life.

@Monster, twinning is one of those things that can happen to humans at a very early stage of development. The result is two individuals who happen to have identical DNA.

skydaddy on March 30, 2009 at 2:37 PM

@Monster, twinning is one of those things that can happen to humans at a very early stage of development. The result is two individuals who happen to have identical DNA.

Now fit that into Ed’s definition.

The Monster on March 30, 2009 at 2:40 PM

skydaddy….since u and colorado are such science fans…is a parthenogenic clone a human life?

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 2:40 PM

parthenogenesis

A haploid oocyte that develops into an individual.
This occurs naturally in aves.

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 2:48 PM

A human haploid oocyte clone would be an individual organism of the species Homo sapiens. It would therefore be a human being.

OhioCoastie on March 30, 2009 at 2:53 PM

as a grrl, i have 10,000 haploid oocytes in storage.
are those all “human life”?

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 2:56 PM

Maybe I misunderstood “haploid.” Your oocytes aren’t human organisms. They become individual organisms by having have 46 chromosomes; in other words, they have the inherent ability to develop into a human adult.

OhioCoastie on March 30, 2009 at 3:01 PM

They become individual organisms by having have 46 chromosomes; in other words, they have the inherent ability to develop into a human adult.

then….your criteria is 46 chromosomes? then a parthenogenic clone that has 23 chromosomes is not human life? what is it then?

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 3:07 PM

A parthenogenic clone has 46 chromosomes, all from mom, right? Two identical sets of 23?

OhioCoastie on March 30, 2009 at 3:15 PM

then….your criteria is 46 chromosomes? then a parthenogenic clone that has 23 chromosomes is not human life? what is it then?

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 3:07 PM

BOY you really have to come up with some linguistic games to feel better when you kill your own unborn child.

Jamson64 on March 30, 2009 at 3:16 PM

So guys if we can find one human with less than 46 chromosomes (or one pregnant rape victim) abortion is cool.

sheesh there really is evil

Jamson64 on March 30, 2009 at 3:19 PM

A human diploid oocyte is a DNA blueprint for building an individual of species homo sapiens sapiens.
The fertilized egg is no more a human life than an architects blueprints are a relized house.

The analogy here is quite poor, as DNA is contained by the embryo itself, whereas the structure of a house need not contain its own blueprint, which is a separate entity.

And I’ve seen a lot of discussion about skin cells, etc., and how containing DNA does not a life make. But you could hardly argue that the removal of all skin cells–the entire organ of the skin, that is–from an adult human will result in the individual’s death because all of the remaining cells will be killed.

Well, so it goes with an embryo at its earliest stage, except that you need only take away one cell to effect the “killing” of it. But, dang it all, there’s a reason God keeps that one precious little cell far from any harm it might incur outside of the mother’s womb, even though a skin cell is exposed to a constant threat of destruction. And the reason is, God sought to make the survival of that tiny human life substantially more likely.

Not that any of this stopped mankind from devising ways to reach inside and terminate the life, of course. And then there’s the obvious fact that killing the mother would also kill the embryo before it has a chance to grow–which is why it was necessary to create the double-homicide rule. Regardless, however, those who don’t think life begins with conception have tended to strain credulity in making the case for why that tiny entity is any less a “human life” than any of us.

Morrissey is right to point out that much of the question is scientifically-oriented, but I think he draws too solid a line between biological processes and the worldviews through which we observe them. Knowing when a new and unique DNA blueprint is created does not answer the question of when “life” begins as far as many people are concerned. Otherwise, there would be no debate right now. Morrissey and I might agree that the contrary position is untenable, but it nevertheless exists.

Oddly enough, Ed, you’ve overlooked the fact that Professor “Hey, that Obama guy sure is pro-life!” Kmiec is right to a point in asking the question: “can SCOTUS possibly draw a hard-and-fast, non-religious line when it comes to the life question?”

I cannot speak for Kmiec (though I studied out of a con-law book he helped prepare), but I would hope that he might concur with me in suggesting that SCOTUS is not equipped to draw any such line–and for this very reason SCOTUS should pull their pointy, elitist noses out of the abortion issue for good and return the question to the States where it belongs.

cackcon on March 30, 2009 at 3:20 PM

They become individual organisms by having have 46 chromosomes; in other words, they have the inherent ability to develop into a human adult.

So now Trig Palin is not an individual human organism?

The Monster on March 30, 2009 at 3:21 PM

Correction:

And I’ve seen a lot of discussion about skin cells, etc., and how containing DNA does not a life make. But you could hardly argue dispute the fact that the removal of all skin cells–the entire organ of the skin, that is–from an adult human will result in the individual’s death because all of the remaining cells will be killed.

cackcon on March 30, 2009 at 3:21 PM

We are not talking about houses or trees or even little puppies.

Jamson64 on March 30, 2009 at 3:22 PM

a parthenogenic individual has no fertilization “moment”.
It may have only 23 chromosomes.

Egg cells may be produced via meiosis or mitosis oogenesis. If by mitosis, the egg that undergoes parthenogenesis can be either haploid or diploid, leading to a number of possible outcomes in terms of the genetic fingerprint of the parthenogen.

So….human life?

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 3:24 PM

So now Trig Palin is not an individual human organism?

The Monster on March 30, 2009 at 3:21 PM

It depends on the type of Down’s Syndrome…..Trig may have 47 chromosomes, or 46, depending if it is classic trisomy 21 or a translocation or point mutation.

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 3:29 PM

No human oocyte can develop into a human adult if it only has 23 chromosomes.

As for Trig Palin, he’s an individual organism of the species Homo sapiens. He’s a human being. He has 46 chromosomes (true by definition, because he has 47 chromosomes).

OhioCoastie on March 30, 2009 at 3:30 PM

The evolutionary purpose of genetic recombination is fitness.
Fertilization is an evolved reproductive form that increases genetic variability in species, and increased genetic variability means increased fitness in adaptation to environment.

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 3:36 PM

my intention was to say that a fertilized egg can and does naturally split and become separate individuals who share identical DNA. Though their’s is identical, each of them is a unique and separate individual.

Speaking from a purely biological standpoint, they are identical, however, those of us who acknowledge that human’s have a spirit that makes them as unique as their biological make up, they are in fact two or three unique individuals.

Jvette on March 30, 2009 at 12:44 PM

When the zygote splits into two embryos there are clearly two bodies. However, before the split there is only a single physical entity carrying the DNA. Is it possible for two beings to inhabit one body?

dedalus on March 30, 2009 at 3:40 PM

No human oocyte can develop into a human adult if it only has 23 chromosomes.

It hasn’t been done in humans yet, but it is certainly possible with invitro and the Johns Hopkins solution to mammalian DNA imprinting.
It has been done with laboratory mammals and occurs naturally in various species of reptiles, amphibians, and aves.
This is a thought experiment anyways.
So your response is? That a human parthenogen with 23 chromosomes is not viable? That simply isn’t true.
We share 98% to 99% of our genetic material with other mammals. If we can do it in primates and mice we can do it in homo sapiens sapiens.

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 3:43 PM

However, before the split there is only a single physical entity carrying the DNA. Is it possible for two beings to inhabit one body?

dedalus on March 30, 2009 at 3:40 PM

You misunderstand. Before the split there is one human organism. Afterward there are two human organisms that have identical genomes.

As for two beings inhabiting one body, that’s exactly the situation during pregnancy. What we pro-lifers dispute is the pro-abort claim that two organisms are one organism.

OhioCoastie on March 30, 2009 at 3:47 PM

What we pro-lifers dispute is the pro-abort claim that two organisms are one organism.

No, our argument is that 8-cell blastulae are not cute ittybitty homunculi with citizen rights.
But lets return to my thought experiment.
Is 46+ chromosomes the criteria that makes a cellclump into a “human life”?
And, if you really believe that, why aren’t you out there suing to have the 400,000 snowflake embryos implanted in host wombs before their USE-BY dates?

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 3:52 PM

So your response is? That a human parthenogen with 23 chromosomes is not viable? That simply isn’t true.

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 3:43 PM

A human parthenogen with 23 chromosomes does not have the inherent ability to develop into an adult human individual. I’ll reconsider my position when one does. Saying “they’ll figure it out soon” doesn’t cut it.

OhioCoastie on March 30, 2009 at 3:54 PM

I wonder how many cryostasis embryos there are in the states right now….a million? 2 million?
Why……ITS PRACTICALLY A HOLOCAUST!!!!
OMG!!

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 4:00 PM

8-cell blastulae are not cute ittybitty homunculi with citizen rights

You’re mischaracterizing the pro-life position. We contend that 8-cell blastulae are individual organisms of the species Homo sapiens, and as such have a right to life equivalent to yours or mine.

Nobody’s talking about cute little citizen homonculi. We’re simply arguing that unborn humans ought not be killed for any lesser reason than one that justifies killing a born human.

OhioCoastie on March 30, 2009 at 4:02 PM

A human parthenogen with 23 chromosomes does not have the inherent ability to develop into an adult human individual.

Oh, but it does. It just needs the environment, exactly like a diploid oocyte does. It has the same potential.
So you are saying that fertilization makes a “human life”, right?

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 4:03 PM

Since when has a human developed with 23 chromosomes? Who is he/she?

OhioCoastie on March 30, 2009 at 4:04 PM

We’re simply arguing that unborn humans ought not be killed for any lesser reason than one that justifies killing a born human.

Well then you are whited sepulchres if you’re not out there legislating for the rights of teh Cryostasised Unborn, arent you?
Aren’t the Cryostasised Unborn people too?

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 4:05 PM

Since when has a human developed with 23 chromosomes?

A haploid parthenogen has the same cell biology.
The “inherent potential”.

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 4:07 PM

Humans in cryostasis have a right to life, too. It’s wrong to create them and then destroy them.

As far as science can presently prove, a human parthenogen with 23 chromosomes is inherently incapable of developing. If I’m wrong & there’s somebody out there with 23 chromosomes, let me know.

OhioCoastie on March 30, 2009 at 4:13 PM

As for two beings inhabiting one body, that’s exactly the situation during pregnancy. What we pro-lifers dispute is the pro-abort claim that two organisms are one organism.

OhioCoastie on March 30, 2009 at 3:47 PM

The mom and fetus seem to be clearly separate organisms from the get-go.

dedalus on March 30, 2009 at 4:18 PM

So you are saying that fertilization makes a “human life”, right?

That is Ed’s definition that started this whole argument. I’ve given examples of one fertilization making two lives, and two fertilizations making one life, which no one has been able to reconcile with Ed’s definition. In the one case, one life somehow becomes two; in the other, two become one; in each case after fertilization.

The Monster on March 30, 2009 at 4:19 PM

The mom and fetus seem to be clearly separate organisms from the get-go.

dedalus on March 30, 2009 at 4:18 PM

Correct. And it’s also true that the unborn human being inhabits his mother during pregnancy. He is inside her without being her.

OhioCoastie on March 30, 2009 at 4:21 PM

Correct. And it’s also true that the unborn human being inhabits his mother during pregnancy. He is inside her without being her.

OhioCoastie on March 30, 2009 at 4:21 PM

Yes, correct. I think addressing rights for the unborn from the point of viability onward is somewhere that progress can be made. However, trying to assign full rights from the point of fertilization is not only philosophically shakier but has the added problem of scaring many voters away from the GOP.

Since fertilization can happen outside the womb, what is the moral responsibility of society once it does? The embryo can be frozen for a period of time, but eventually it needs a womb. If the sperm and egg donor aren’t available ought there to be some public service requirement for a woman to make her womb available? Perhaps, there should be a tax to fund a market fee for the service?

dedalus on March 30, 2009 at 4:34 PM

” a human parthenogen with 23 chromosomes is inherently incapable of developing”

No, because cell biology includes both meiotic and mitotic celldivision and blastomeres consist of mosaics of polyploid, diploid and haploid cells.
The parthenogen (unfertilized haploid oocyte) in our thought experiment would have exactly the same cell biology as a diploid oocyte once it started growth and differentiation, even though no fertilization occurred.
My argument is that fertilization does not a “human life” make, contra Ed.

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 4:35 PM

Strangelet, has a human parthenogen with 23 chromosomes ever developed into an adult human? Please give an example.

Now while this statement is correct …

blastomeres consist of mosaics of polyploid, diploid and haploid cells

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 4:35 PM

… your conclusion is flawed. What you misunderstand is the concept of categories.

If a being of type X is composed of parts A, B, and C, it does not follow that parts A, B, or C are themselves beings of type X.

Blastomeres have parts called polyploid cells, diploid cells, and haploid cells. Those parts are not themselves blastomeres.

OhioCoastie on March 30, 2009 at 4:46 PM

Perhaps, there should be a tax to fund a market fee for the service?

dedalus on March 30, 2009 at 4:34 PM

Nah, just nationalize the North Dakota Handmaid’s Tale bill.
Then we grrls can be jailed for using birth control and forced to be Wombs of the State.
Octo-moms for everyone!!!!

haha, I can see it now….a teenager is arrested for buying the morning after pill in a sting opperation by the Jesusland SS…..in order to avoid prison time for attempted murder she is offered the chance to wipe out her sentence by serving as a host womb for some of the Cryogenically Preserved Unborn.
Kinda like La Femme Nikita or Dollhouse with pregnancy.
lol

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 4:56 PM

f a being of type X is composed of parts A, B, and C, it does not follow that parts A, B, or C are themselves beings of type X.

Whaa? That makes absolutely no sense.
Okfine, enough attempting to debate the Science-Challenged.
Enjoy your magical thinking Ed.

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 5:02 PM

Yeah, strangelet, you don’t grasp basic logic. You have my condolences.

OhioCoastie on March 30, 2009 at 5:14 PM

regarding humans with 23 chromosomers and “Jesusland SS” …

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

skydaddy on March 30, 2009 at 5:32 PM

ahem. chromosomes

skydaddy on March 30, 2009 at 5:32 PM

strangelet:

One does not make rules by assuming the exception is the norm. Same with fertilized embryos in Cryostasis. Embryos did not magically or naturally become cryostatic, someone put them there for the purposes of human experimentation. Thus cryostasis is a red herring. Same with basically any process that requires more than an egg, a sperm, and intercourse.

BKennedy on March 30, 2009 at 5:36 PM

Monster,

Once a cell starts reproducing through mitosis, it’s alive. If it happens to split into twins, then both of them are alive, too. If it happens to split into quadruplets, then all four of them are alive, too. You’ve tried confusing the issue with what happens after human life begins. An embryo can develop spinal bifida, too, but that doesn’t make it not alive.

Ed Morrissey on March 30, 2009 at 5:57 PM

Enjoy your magical thinking Ed.

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 5:02 PM

Ah, the ad hominem — the sure sign that someone lost the argument. I’m not arguing faith, I’m arguing science. Just ask a biologist if mitosis can occur without the cell being alive. Or, if you prefer, stick with your magical thinking.

Ed Morrissey on March 30, 2009 at 5:59 PM

Our friend strangelet doesn’t understand categories.

OhioCoastie on March 30, 2009 at 6:01 PM

Once a cell starts reproducing through mitosis, it’s alive. If it happens to split into twins, then both of them are alive, too.

Ed Morrissey on March 30, 2009 at 5:57 PM

It is cellular life, and a distinct human organism, but is it a person? In the case of twins are two individuals people simultaneously inhabiting a single zygote before the split? If it is one person before the split is there any way to identify which of the two people the zygote is?

dedalus on March 30, 2009 at 6:11 PM

It is cellular life, and a distinct human organism, but is it a person?

That’s a political and ethical question. Kmiec wanted to know when life begins, and the answer is scientifically obvious. My answer to you is that I believe “personhood” begins at life, and that human life should be protected throughout its existence, as it has a higher value than just its practical use at any stage of existence.

Ed Morrissey on March 30, 2009 at 6:18 PM

Good heavens. I’d have retreated in shame from the public eye if I were Doug Kmiec. Either he’s been lying about his strong pro-life belief his whole life or he’s an absolute idiot. I wouldn’t be proud of either one.

funky chicken on March 30, 2009 at 6:19 PM

That’s a political and ethical question. Kmiec wanted to know when life begins, and the answer is scientifically obvious. My answer to you is that I believe “personhood” begins at life, and that human life should be protected throughout its existence, as it has a higher value than just its practical use at any stage of existence.

Ed Morrissey on March 30, 2009 at 6:18 PM

Fair point. It is an individual human organism from the point of conception, and clearly alive.

It seems like the political process in the U.S. is struggling with the issue with the tools it has. Sure Roe can be seen as a power grab by SCOTUS but the states with the large majority of the population would likely not restrict abortion access if Roe were overturned.

dedalus on March 30, 2009 at 6:30 PM

Monster,

Your arguments are so illogical it baffles me, let’s start with the appendix one. You don’t remove your appendix because it is inconvenient but because it is threatening your life and yes, the cells int it will die because they depend on the organism to survive which -if you think about it- makes abortion even worse than homicide, because you are removing a life that depends on you. Another great difference with the appendix: The inside of the uterus is a totally independent environment from the rest of the mother’s body; the reason? If it were not so, the embryo would be destroyed as “foreign” by the mother’s immune system thus proving that it is not the same or the “woman’s body”. You keep bringing how any cell with DNA would fit Ed’s definition of life, I have already told you how that is not true with the two examples above, but one more point: If we are to hold your point, then no life has value because after all, we are a bunch of cells that somehow are stuck together. While you willfully ignore the fact that in the blastomere, all the DNA code necessary to make you who and what you are is present already and from that all the different organs that make an entire organism evolve into the different structures. I would like to see you try and make an organism from a discarded appendix or skin cell, go ahead try it, and don’t tell me that’s what cloning is, because it is not, cloning means you introduce a whole organism’s DNA into a cell which is what happens at the moment of conception, not a skin cell multiplying until developing into a human being.

TitleofLiberty on March 30, 2009 at 6:35 PM

Once a cell starts reproducing through mitosis, it’s alive. If it happens to split into twins, then both of them are alive, too. If it happens to split into quadruplets, then all four of them are alive, too. You’ve tried confusing the issue with what happens after human life begins. An embryo can develop spinal bifida, too, but that doesn’t make it not alive.

But those twins or quads can’t be “a unique human life“, according to your definition. You’re the one who said that the unique combination of DNA is what makes the fertilized egg “a unique human life“.

What if a few cells split off during the first few rounds of post-fertilization division, but they don’t ever implant in the uterine wall, is each one a unique human life? You originally said that the fertilization itself makes “a unique human life” regardless of whether it implants or not. What are the criteria for being “a unique human life” when the mass of cells undergoes fission?

Are a sperm and egg? Are they some other species? Of course we know that they are alive, and they are human. That makes them “human life”. They are also different subsets of DNA of the humans they came from, so your “a unique human life” would seem to apply.

My appendix is “human life”, because it’s still in my body receiving nutrition and oxygen via my bloodstream, and it’s every bit as unique compared to the rest of my body as identical twins are compared to each other. But no one considers it “taking a life” if it’s ever removed from my body. And no one I know considers it “taking a life” when a live human egg cell happens not to be fertilized by a live human sperm. (I can’t speak for the “every sperm is sacred” crowd.)

What “begins” at fertilization is a particular combination of chromosomes. And even that isn’t the only time it can happen. As cells divide, sometimes chromosomes twist around each other and transfer a piece of DNA from one to another, etc. That not all of the cells in a body have exactly the same DNA doesn’t make it more than one life any more than a chimera formed from multiple fertilizations is.

The Monster on March 30, 2009 at 7:25 PM

Your arguments are so illogical it baffles me, let’s start with the appendix one. You don’t remove your appendix because it is inconvenient

Why someone would or would not choose to remove an appendix or embryo has no bearing on whether it represents “a unique human life”, which was Ed’s reasoning.

He’s the one who claims that fertilization is so important, and that implantation does not matter. Then when we talk about twinning, he says that the twins are two separate lives, even though they aren’t “a unique human life” by his own definition. Clearly, there is something else that happens beyond fertilization to make two lives out of one.

But it can’t simply be the physical separation of the undifferentiated cells into separate masses, or the removal of an appendix would cause two unique human lives to exist where only one was before. What is different about separating that mass of cells and removing an appendix? We know that there is something different, but we’re talking about definitions here. Define that difference. There’s something the appendix doesn’t have, that the rest of the body after it’s removed, and the identical twins, each have.

The Monster on March 30, 2009 at 7:33 PM

That’s as absurd as saying that identical twins have no human rights because they’re not unique from each other. I’m using the word “unique” to distinguish the blastomere from its mother, to distinguish it from an appendix in your silly construct.

Ask a biologist if an organism can initiate mitosis without being alive. I suspect you’ll get a short, and very clarifying, response.

Ed Morrissey on March 30, 2009 at 7:35 PM

Just ask a biologist if mitosis can occur without the cell being alive. Or, if you prefer, stick with your magical thinking.

Lol! It is the conservative party that is currently devolving into fundamentalist tribalism, complete with excommunication of defectors and magical thinking.
Examples of conservative magical thinking–
Polls lie.
hASCR is “superior” to hESCR.
The Econopalypse was caused by Dems abusing Frannie and Freddie.
“Victory” in Iraq.
Centerright nation.
An eight-cell blastulae is a “human life”.

By your fertilization argument parthenogens are not “human life”, since they are not fertilized, and teratomas are.
Since parthenogens are not “human life”, why then, let use parthenogens to restart the 21 unstable cell lines that dimwitted evangelical bumbler Bush authorized research funding for!
lol

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 8:50 PM

btw alive!=human life.
teratomas are alive.

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 8:52 PM

Cap’n Ed , you have already had a couple of brushes with magical thinking. other wise described as pre-rational or wishful thinking.
Weapons in the Bekkah Valley?
Harmony database?
lol

strangelet on March 30, 2009 at 8:55 PM

That’s as absurd as saying that identical twins have no human rights because they’re not unique from each other. I’m using the word “unique” to distinguish the blastomere from its mother, to distinguish it from an appendix in your silly construct.

So having “unique” genes means exactly what? The identical twins aren’t unique, but we agree they’re two lives. The chimera has cells with different chromosomes in different parts of its body, but is only one life. Clearly, the uniqueness of the DNA is not what makes “a human life”.

My “silly construct” is designed to demonstrate the absurdity of your definition. You recognize the silliness of calling an appendix a human life, saying that identical twins are only one human life, or calling a chimera two human lives. What you won’t get through your head is that these silly things are direct logical consequences of your choice of DNA uniqueness as somehow relevant to the question of when “a human life” begins. The silliness is inherent in the DNA argument itself. I just showed you where it lead.

We all know that identical twins are two separate human lives, a chimera is one human life, and an appendix is zero human lives. So, what is it about these three cases that allows us to easily distinguish them from one another? It isn’t DNA differences. So what is it?

The Monster on March 31, 2009 at 12:17 AM

The entire argument is missing one major component. That is natural potential.

An appendix has no potential to become a human life through natural processes. Neither does parthenogenic reproduction. Neither the appendix or an ovum can produce life in a natural process. You may be able to create complete human from cloning methods practiced on the cells of an appendix. You may be able to produce a blastomere through laboratory procedures with ova. But neither of those processes can occur in nature in human beings.

This is what makes your comparison apples and oranges. What we are discussing here is trying to determine when the beginning of human life takes place in the context of allowing termination of said life. I cannot think of a real logical explanation why we would terminate a cloning or parthenogenic reproduction, other than health concerns. Why would you bother to go through all that trouble to create a life which you are about to destroy? So if you are willing to establish that standard, I am perfectly content to accept that as the standard for naturally conceived zygotes as well. No termination except in cases of health risks.

So now can we get back to the INTENDED context of the discussion without all the purposeful misdirection?

Hawthorne on March 31, 2009 at 6:48 AM

Hawthorne on March 31, 2009 at 6:48 AM

Ed’s preconditions for “human life” are diploid (fertilized) oocyte and “alive”.
A teratoma is diploid and “alive”, at least as long its on the life support support system of the uterus.
A parthenogen can be haploid…..so it fails Ed’s definition of human life.
My proposal is to use parthenogens for hESCR since by Ed’s definition they are not “human life”. We can start parthenogens invitro and harvest them as blastomeres.
kk?

strangelet on March 31, 2009 at 8:54 AM

Hawthorne….Monster and I are just demonstrating with empirical data that an additional complement of 23 chromosomes does not a “human life” make.
I think we have proven Ed’s proposition to be false.
A blastula, an 8-cell cleavage stage, a nerula, etc, are simply not “human life”.
The supremes have gone for extra-utero viability as their criteria for the start of “human life”.
I would prefer sentience, and the developmental requirement for that is sufficient neo-cortical substrate to support thought and REM sleep.
About 6 months.

strangelet on March 31, 2009 at 9:09 AM

In other words, a differentiated cell clump (or in Ed’s words, a “fertilized egg”) is not a “human life”.
It is an unrealized plan for building an individual of homo sapiens sapiens.

strangelet on March 31, 2009 at 9:17 AM

Is a walnut an oak tree?

The Monster on March 31, 2009 at 9:19 AM

Hey, Morrissey

Why do you get everybody’s panties in a wad over Doug Kmiec?
You are giving Kmiec some kind of intellectual legitimacy by engaging in his completely invalid debate points without pointing out the truth in a loud and clear voice:

DOUG KMIEC IS A SELF-SERVING FRAUD.

Kmiec deliberately tries to sucker fair-minded folks into endlessly more complicated arguments in order to lead them away from the ugly truth about Kmiec himself. Kmiec is just playing with you.

Kmiec has abandoned Catholicism and he knows it. And he’s proud of it. He is using these debates to gain more cred with the Obama administration, and his goal is to become one of the inner circle. He is using the Catholic Church as his footstool.

jay12 on March 31, 2009 at 9:23 AM

Ed: did he mean theological conservative or political conservative? The two are not always equal.

jediwebdude on March 31, 2009 at 10:53 AM

Ed: did he mean theological conservative or political conservative? The two are not always equal.

jediwebdude on March 31, 2009 at 10:53 AM

Actually, yes they are. The two are are one in the same, some just refuse to realize it. Without theological standards, political standards cannot logically exist. Without some form of theological standard, there does not exist an advent of freedom or liberty, thus conservatism need not exist. Moral relativism is the ultimate problem, and cause of why we have so many stupid pointless discussions where people like the Monster and Strangelet and Allahpundit fail to understand basic points about human life, and wrong vs. right. These two live in a moral gray area 100% of the time using fallacious logic to control their actions and deeds while they hopelessly reach for some idiotic reason to retain some basic form of ethics.

Example: According to the declaration which provided our independent nation, everyone has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Without God present, I could easily deny you your right to life simply because I felt like doing so at the time without fear of justice (without a God, justice is a fallacy, as there is no standard by which justice can be measured).

By what standard does anyone consider denying someone a life purely to prolong another person’s life right? Does this now mean that I can murder someone in order to gain a business or political achievement? If not, why not?

Strangelet, Allahpundit, and the Monster live in a moral grey area because they’re cowards, and are afraid to abide by a standard. Like most people in this screwed up, twisted, sick hellhole of a world, they have trained themselves to refuse the ability to define what’s wrong and what’s right so that they can escape the discomfort of being accountable to themselves.

Prove me wrong.

leetpriest on March 31, 2009 at 11:58 AM

Prove me wrong.

leetpriest on March 31, 2009 at 11:58 AM

okfine, no prob.
The evolution of cooperation and promotion of consaguinous kin, and the instantiation of incest taboos and social mores preceeded the emergence of monotheistic religions by hundreds of thousands of years.
And btw, the United States of America was a slave-holder nation founded by slave-owners for two centuries.
Theres your freedom and justice for you.

Science is the record of dead religions.

strangelet on March 31, 2009 at 12:12 PM

And the argument was strictly about whether differentiated cellclumps (fertilized eggs in Ed’s terms) are “human life”.
I think Ed got served.

strangelet on March 31, 2009 at 12:15 PM

okfine, no prob.
The evolution of cooperation and promotion of consaguinous kin, and the instantiation of incest taboos and social mores preceeded the emergence of monotheistic religions by hundreds of thousands of years.
And btw, the United States of America was a slave-holder nation founded by slave-owners for two centuries.
Theres your freedom and justice for you.

Science is the record of dead religions.

strangelet on March 31, 2009 at 12:12 PM

I didn’t ask you to prove to me that you can read a passage from some liberal history book, nor did I ask you to prove to me that you’re a moron that can’t write in plain English. You expect someone to take you seriously as an intelligent being, yet you refuse to respect the elegance of the language by spouting off some crap you read out of a book, making a post with typos and language shortcuts used by prepubescent little girls? Yeah, right. Your mind is as empty as your purpose in life.

When I say prove me wrong, I’m speaking in regards to your moral relativism. Prove to me that you’re not a coward that turns a blind eye to escape self-accountability. Prove to me that you don’t live in a moral grey area. But most of all, prove that you have a purpose in this world other than taking up valuable air and consuming valuable resources that an individual with individual liberties that believes in individual justice could be putting to better use.

Oh and by the way, The United States of America was formed on July 4, 1776 with the Declaration of Independence. Slavery was abolished in the United States in 1863. By my math that’s 87 years, not 200, as you claim.

You expect people to take you serious when you can’t perform simple math problems in regards to key dates in American history? You expect people to take you serious when you can’t so much as formulate a proper sentence? Really?

I think Ed got served.

strangelet on March 31, 2009 at 12:15 PM

That’s rich. Ed got served by an illiterate moron that can’t do basic math. Cute.

leetpriest on March 31, 2009 at 4:13 PM

The original circa 1600s immigrants had slaves, and tried to enslave the natives also. Didn’t work because there was no slave culture to build on, like there was with African slaves and the Masai and Watusi historically enslaving the Bantu.
Native Americans just died trying to get away.
People in your sacred book, the Bible, had slaves too, didn’t they?

And I pwned Ed on human-life-at-conception.

strangelet on March 31, 2009 at 7:32 PM

And I pwned you too, non-leetpriest.
You got beat down by a scene chick.
;)

strangelet on March 31, 2009 at 7:35 PM

mora

strangelet on March 31, 2009 at 7:44 PM

Comment pages: 1 2