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Utilitarianism vs. Ethics; When does life begin?

One of my Latino Issues readers made a statement that shows the growing influence of utilitarian approach to medical experimentation. It reveals a weakening of the moral ethics of scientists that would be willing to risk killing a human for the sake of a "potential" cure or benefit.
In religious terms, life begins when a spirit is placed into a body. When does that happen? I think that is happens sometime during pregnancy. Perhaps when the fetus is viable to survive on it's own. I think that the spirit comes into the body and at least takes a few "test drives" in the womb. I am anti-abortion, but I do not see an abortion as exactly equivalent to murder. I respect life and hold it sacred, I also see terrible suffering, pain and death of those who need treatment.

As for life, we cannot get so hung up on the technicalities that we take the approach of the some sects in India where they only walk down the street if they can have a broom in front of them so as to never steps on and kill an insect! I wonder how they would handle the knowledge of the legions of little bugs that live on our skin, not to mention the bacteria and viruses which we swallow daily that are alive too. Indeed we eat living things - plants, all the time. A grain of wheat is alive - it has the potential to grow a living plant.

My bottom line is that this is not an easy answer. I want life to be respected: both the living and the unborn. I don't consider the embryonic stem cells to be unborn life the same as a fetus developing in a womb.
Milt | 08.08.05 - 10:38 am | #
If I was to use this argument that we do not really know when the Spirit enters the "body" during the pregnancy, I would argue the ethical thing to do would be to not risk killing a human being, and simply take the high road. Killing embryos cannot possibly be ethical, even for those that claim ignorance of when life starts.

To do so is to be utilitarian. History has shown the horrors that unbridled utilitarian approach to medicine and science and the treatment of human beings brings about. I believe this is what Dr. James Dobson was referring to when he made his Nazi comments, and it is a valid comment.

As far as Milt's reference to India's religious practices, everyone with any sort of intellect understands the difference, in regards to ethics, between human life, and plant or insect life. Well, almost everyone--perhaps some of the extreme, nutty animal-right groups don't.

Milt, I too have seen the suffering of those that are sick or disabled. The truth is that embryonic stem cell research offers no hope for treatment. All the research has demonstrated this for a fact. I am sorry you have been deceived by the media and the left, who are simply eager to show the administration in a negative light and are willing to omit the facts for the sake of their cause.

I have said this before--do your research, and know the facts before you come argue about the so-called potential cures that embryonic stem cell research could provide. The point here is that even if embryonic stem cell research did offer any sort of hope for cures, it would still be unethical and immoral to pursue that avenue. Specially when we consider that adult stem cells can provide all the functionality and requirements for these kinds of treatments.

It just doesn't make sense.

You can read the full discussion here. You can also read the original post that started the conversation: Denver Post calls Dr. James Dobson "lunatic fringe"

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