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Monday, December 05, 2005

A Serious Post

As anyone who reads this blog or knows me personally probably knows, a fair number of people and things irk me. The broad generalization I make for those people is "stupid people." One particular sub-class of these people who irk me in particular is that collection of people who insist that because I am a faithfully orthodox Catholic and oppose stem cell research, that I have to also oppose immunizations. (Because both interfere with God's plan for us to suffer, right?) Otherwise I'm not being "consistent" and am, well, stupid.

Let's get a thing or two straight, here. 1) I'm a Catholic, not a Luddite. 2) Immunizations alleviate the suffering for particular individuals caused by particular diseases. They are not panaceas with which we think we can remove the very concept of disease itself. This is what people tell us they want to do with stem cell research. I'm not opposed to us playing doctor -- I'm opposed to us playing God. 3) Immunizations don't result in the deaths of human beings (unless you catch smallpox from your immunization, but that is not an intended or direct and necessary result of the action), nor do they result in society making a Faustian pact in exchange for its medical breakthroughs. I don't think you can show that immunizing has decreased our regard for life the way embryonic stem cell research will (if we can go any lower, that is).

Someone in the class (where else would this happen? I don't read Andrew Sullivan, and nobody else but college students are this stupid) also engaged in an amazing form of multi-dimensional stupidy. She committed a crime against both reason and language at the same time. She said that it's stupid to oppose stem cell research because it destroyed embryos. Why, you might ask? Well, her reasoning went, since not all fertilized eggs implant, the mother's body "spontaneously aborts" lots of embryos, you're simply doing something that happens already!

GAAHHHHHH! First off, let's talk about how much I truly, truly, truly despise the phrase "spontaneous abortion." Abort is an active verb that requires a definite, intentional subject. You can say "the mission was aborted," but even there you imply that the action was taken by the people in charge of it. Someone has to DO the aborting. Compare this to a verb like snow. "I want it to snow." You don't want someone to go outside and engage in some activity that we call snowing, you want it to happen spontaneously, by itself, without a conscious subject moving it (for all the children out there, this is a linguistic, not a metaphysical argument -- yes, God makes it snow). So to say "spontaneous abortion" is to really do a number on the language. It's not just a matter of making a transitive verb intransitive (although it does that too), it's a matter of putting words together in ways that contradict their actual meanings. It's like saying "intentional precipitation" or "the watery block of marble." One shouldn't do such cruel things to the language, period -- one shouldn't even think about it for perverse political reasons.

Second, let's talk about the fact that a miscarriage (to use the correct term), is something that happens naturally. If I walk along a mountain with a friend, and a boulder comes down the mountain and crushes my friend to bits, I'm ordinarily not culpable (we could construct a scenario where I am, but we're assuming this is an accident). A wide variety of natural forces interact to cause a woman's body and her unborn child not to get along sometimes. That's a part of life, an unfortunate part made requisite by the Fall, but still a part. To compare that natural unfortunate occurance to the intentional taking of any action, especially the taking of human life, demonstrates truly twisted logic and a badly mangled conscience.

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Blogger Der Tommissar said...

3) Immunizations don't result in the deaths of human beings (unless you catch smallpox from your immunization, but that is not an intended or direct and necessary result of the action)


Some immunizations were developed from the cell lines of aborted fetuses. This leads to a dilemna when deciding whether or not to use those immunizations.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Really? Hellfire, I didn't know that . . .

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Chad said...

Yep. Rubella springs to mind; I think the varicella vaccine was made from such cells as well, but I'm too lazy to verify this late at night.

Now, here's a conundrum for you: I utilize in my research a cell line made in the 1970's from an aborted fetus--now, the fetus wasn't aborted with the express purpose of making the cell line, but still a bit disconcerting. Should I continue using the cell line or not?

10:52 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

I think that's a question for the Congregation for Ethical Conundra.

11:00 PM  
Blogger Der Tommissar said...

It looks like blogger ate this comment:

Vatican Statement on Vaccines Derived From Aborted Human Fetuses

3:12 PM  

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