Friday, September 07, 2007

On Mutants, Medical Ethics and Reality

September 6, 2007 -- BRITAIN'S fertility regulator decided in principle today to allow scientists to create human-animal hybrid embryos for research.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) gave the go-ahead to controversial plans to create “cytoplasmic” embryos, which merge human cells with eggs from animals such as cattle.

Applications to proceed from researchers at Newcastle University in northeast England and King's College London can now be appraised by a licence committee in November.

Scientists argue such research could pave the way for therapies for diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

An HFEA consultation found that people were “at ease” with the proposals once the possible implications had been explained.....

The...embryos are therefore mostly human, with a small animal component.

Stem cells, which can grow into different kinds of tissue, are then formed.

The embryos could give researchers a large supply of stem cells to work with.

Scientists have had to rely on human eggs left over from fertility treatment, which are in short supply and often poor quality.

When I first heard this story, I asked myself the question, 'are they talking about England, or the Island of Dr. Moreau?'

That was a great -- and horrifying -- movie of my childhood starting Burt Lancaster as the "evil Doctor" who spliced the genes -- or genetically engineered -- crosses between men and animals. Without giving the end away, lets just say his experiments went awry as men became more like animals, and the poor animals became more like men. It was not only a movie nightmare, it was a moral nightmare.

So to will be these experiments approved by the British "fertility regulator" -- as if having a government office by that title isn't already sinister enough. Ostensibly, these "scientists" are hoping to "create" just enough life in these embryo's to engineer cures for diseases, the long promised miracle cures that they can never quite seem to perfect.

Of course, medical science and technology have made great strides in curing diseases and aiding those who suffer from various illnesses. Until recent decades, however, Medicine had a longstanding tradition all the way back to the Hippocratic Oath to "first, do no harm." Now, in the name of progress, with a promise of cures to the desparate and the frightened, they have jettisoned such moral notions. What could be more noble than surrendering your morality on your way to becoming a god?

The implications of these "experiments" go far deeper than the arrogance of "scientists" or the devaluing of human life. How long before human embryos become valuable commodities for sale to the highest bidder, and abortion becomes the means by which these "embryo's" are harvested for "special research?" Oops, some of that is already happening. How long before some "Dr. Moreau" decides that a Man-Cow hybrid, or Man-Dog, or Woman-Cat, or another cross-species amalgamation could prove lucrative as his own creation, or perhaps helpful as a servant in various mundane chores and tasks which other "full breed" humans just won't do?

These scientists are about to open a pandora's box as did Dr. Moreau on his fictional island. The results at the very least will further muddle the unique role of humans in the Creation, as well as cheapen the value of human lives. And perhaps worst of all, from the perspective of an animal lover, it would infuse those poor instictually driven beasts with something that to now has only belonged to humanity -- a fallen nature, a soul bent toward evil. If such a creature could have a soul at all.

The dangers are immense in this kind of foolish pursuit. It will become another "Tower of Babel" which must be struck down, for the sake of the very men who build it. For if it is not, our very noble "creations" could become the instruments of our destruction.

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