Sunday 24 May 2009

The weak arguments of those denying human rights to embryos

In an extraordinarily flippant comment promoting destructive embryo research, David Norris, a Irish senator, told a press conference last month:
“Nobody takes an embryo to the zoo or the cinema or the church. Let’s be real about this.”
In response to Sen. Norris, Professor William Binchy, a Irish pro-life legal expert, wrote to the Irish Times:
"A child who shows wonderment at an elephant at the zoo delights us because of the child’s innocence, spontaneity and capacity to share experience. But no child’s rights should depend on such a fragile entitlement ... To attempt to condition the right to life on the capacity of a human being to relate to, or enthral, others is to contradict the core insight of human rights – that each of us, at all stages in our life, regardless of our particular capacities, has an equal inherent worth and dignity."
Sen. Norris confirmed the weakness of his position in a reply to Prof. Binchy:
"At 14 days or less the embryo is an undifferentiated cluster of cells. It possesses no intellect, no spinal cord, no organ development, no capacity to experience the material world, no consciousness etc."
In addition, Sen. Norris confirmed in his flippancy:
"I might also point out that nature in its own way is very cavalier indeed concerning the fate of these tiny entities, happily destroying hundreds of millions of them. Nature, that is, not man and this is all despite Prof Binchy’s quixotically amiable feelings towards them."
I've pointed out in a previous blog the cynical, self-serving, contradictory arguments for destructive embryo research, but in response to Sen. Norris, I would add the following:
  • Countless thousands of embryos, every day of the year, all over the world, go to the zoo, the cinema and to church - in their mother's wombs!
  • The embryonic stage of development ends at eight weeks after conception, not 14 days.
  • The embryo, even at its earliest stage, is not undifferentiated, as the late Professor Jerome Lejeune, the esteemed geneticist, testified 20 years ago: "[D]ifferentiation is, so to speak, prewritten in the first cell ... [I]t cannot be said that the first cell is a non-differentiated cell. It must be said now the first cell is knowing how to differentiate the progeny, the cell progeny."
  • If Sen. Norris were to be knocked unconscious, he would not be able to exercise his intellect or experience the material world. Would it therefore be alright to kill him by ripping out tissue from his body, for use in redundant medical experiments?
  • Nature is not a moral agent, but man is. Man has, throughout history, also destroyed hundreds of millions of innocent human beings, born and unborn. Is Sen. Norris saying that's alright, as long as the purpose is medical research?