Ethics Escape, 8/24/2020: The “Not Watching The GOP Convention” Edition

The fact that Bill Clinton was going to speak at the Democratic National Convention was sufficient to justify my personal boycott of that event, and the fact that Scott Baio (“Happy Days,” “Charles in Charge,” “Joanie Loves Chachi”) is speaking at this convention is enough to to keep me away from the Republicans. I assumed that Scott was a speaker the last time because the Republicans were shunning Trump, forcing the nominee to scrape the bottom of the barrel, but he’s the President now. I refuse to accept that there aren’t better choices than Scott Baio available. He’s not only a washed up actor, he’s a washed up actor whom other actors never liked when he wasn’t washed up. He couldn’t even get along with Dick Van Dyke! Baio starred in one of the most degrading reality shows yet—that’s saying something—in which he visited all of his old girlfriends who he had abused when he was a star, admitted how horribly he had treated them and begged for forgiveness, resulting in about half of the women excoriating him on camera. Baio also has been accused of sexually assaulting one of the teenage girls Charles was supposed to be in charge of. Nice.

“the best people…”

1. I don’t understand this story at all, but I do know that the people who run the Susan B. Anthony museum are grandstanding jerks.  Last week President Trump pardoned suffragist Susan B. Anthony, who died in 1906, for her conviction in 1872 for voting before it was legal for women to do so. I wrote about it and rated the pardon a cynical move even for Trump, and a transparent sop for  feminists. Then, based partly on the completely unproven theory that  Anthony would not have wanted to be pardoned, and partly on the now familiar efforts of “the resistance” to deny the President the opportunity to engage in the most benign uses of his legitimate power without being attacked for it,  the leaders of the Susan B. Anthony Museum declined the pardon on her behalf, and the news media dutifully reported that the order had been declined.

The museum has no more power to decline a Presidential pardon for Anthony than I do.

2. Stop telling me I’m picking on Democrats unless you can find a Republican candidate as bad as this creep—who won his primary. If you do, I promise I’ll write about him, too. Aaron Coleman, a 19-year-old Community college student, won his primary race for the Kansas state House of Representatives despite confessing that he has engaged in “bullying, revenge porn, and blackmail.” Coleman defeated 13-year incumbent Stan Frownfelter,  in the Democratic primary for the 37th District. The results were certified this week. He’ll be running unopposed the November election. (nice work, there, GOP. Can’t you get Scott Baio to run? During the campaign, Coleman told former Republican state lawmaker John Whitmer that he would “laugh and giggle when you get COVID and die,” according to the Kansas City Star. His apology was about what you would expect.  But Coleman is a professed “progressive,” and matters of character are secondary (at best) to his target voters, like those of the rest of his party.

3. And now, a bioethics break! The Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board, appointed by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, voted to block 13 out of 14 applications for fetal tissue research to the HHS on “ethical grounds.”  That’s a misnomer: they were blocked on Moral grounds, because the majority of the board believes that abortion is immoral, and fetal tissue is available because of abortion.  However, there is no ethical argument for not using the tissue that will be discarded if it is not used for crucial research. The ban will not hasten a review of Rose v. Wade. It will not save a single unborn life. It will, almost certainly, cost lives.

Of the 15 members on the board, at least ten oppose abortion fetal tissue and stem cell research.   Only one is an open advocate for fetal tissue research.  Now there’s a balanced board for you! All of the  applications came from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and had been  approved  as promising and based on solid  science. The only proposal that passed by a nine-to-six vote was an attempt to develop an alternative to human fetal tissue.

Professor Turley, who gets the Pointer for this story, concludes,

This is using science as a surrogate for politics. The fact is that we have this material which will be discarded at hospitals but can be used to help others with debilitating and lethal conditions. At a time when we are losing so many to Covit-19, we do not need our government closing avenues for valuable new treatment and cures for a wide variety of illnesses.


16 thoughts on “Ethics Escape, 8/24/2020: The “Not Watching The GOP Convention” Edition

  1. I really want to comment on your Number 3, but I am distracted by your intro.

    Yes, Scott Baio May be a hack. But, your failure to mention his most vital role, Bob Loblaw in Arrested Development, is like judging William Shatner for his portrayal of Alyosha Karamazov in The Brothers Karamazov.

    Though fictional, I bet the Bob Loblaw Law Blog never got blackballed by Facebook.

    Okay. Time to calm down.


    • 1. MAY be?
      2. I’m all in favor of kid stars having each other’s back.
      3. I assume Opie kept Chachi away from his daughter, Bryce.
      4. Yes, I dropped out of AD when Scott dropped in. As my friend Tom Fuller likes to say, “There is some shit I won’t eat…”

      • Yes, he may have been the 3rd-rated lawyer on that show.

        Henry Winkler as Barry Zuckerkorn.

        John Michael Higgins as Wayne Jarvis.

        Surely, Scott Baio is at least third-rate behind them as Bob Loblaw, no?


  2. If I’m going for actors to speak at the Republican National Convention they can do better than Baio. Off the top of my head:
    1. James Woods–Who’s devastating on Twitter, but I’ve only read him write good things about those he’s worked with no matter their party.
    2. Nick Searcy–If we can get some Art Mullen level quips it would be beautiful. The fact that one of his children is African American would cause all the right heads to explode.
    3. Adam Baldwin–If they can get him off the golf course. Maybe he’d bring Vera. He still says nice things about crazy Joss Whedon.
    4. Kevin Sorbo and Dean Cain–Hercules and Superman. No other explanation needed.

    Yes, I know there are some women who would be good, but it’s my list.

    • If Adam Baldwin brings Vera, he needs to also wear that hat, so people know he’s not afraid of anything.


  3. Jack,

    How does Turley’s closing statement not constitute to a Rationalization #28, “these are not ordinary times”?

    I don’t currently have any statistics to back me up, but especially after we’ve had those sting videos released showing abortion providers selling off baby parts, isn’t continuing to make a commodity out of fetal tissue a problem? While I’ll agree when Turley says abortion seekers aren’t having abortions to provide fetal tissue, doesn’t incentivizing the use of fetal tissue give abortion providers reasons to push women to have abortions, even if they aren’t needed?

    • There are mountains of evidence that Planned Parenthood counselors, as a matter of policy, already steer women and girls towards abortion, and away from alternatives. They’re on par with timeshare sellers. It’s also proven that they profited from tissue donations, not massively, but it’s a nice additional source of revenue.

    • It’s definitely not #28. Banning the beneficial use of anything that will be wasted and thrown away is prioritizing emotion over ethical values. Turley is employing utilitarian analysis, and it’s not even a close call. My in-laws gave their bodies to medical schools. I see no difference. His reasoning is ethical now, and has always been. It’s in the same category for me as the “dirty money” argument.

      • I see a major difference between donating your body to science – your decision, and a third party collecting dead tissues for sale. If they were the same funeral homes could simply sell bodies to cadaver wholesalers.

        In Economics, when the profitability of a byproduct (fetal tissue) of a process (abortion) rises or a loss minimized then we can expect a corresponding rise in the supply of the process that creates the byproduct.

        So, if abortion providers find that profits associated with fetal tissue sales can be had by increasing the number of procedures performed they will be incentivized to choose to push abortion as the best option relative to other options.

        • Do you think it would change anything if abortion patients could veto the use of the aborted fetus on moral grounds? Talk about hypocrisy! What do you think the number doing that would be, 5%? 2%? Less? Or if it were an opt in, which it virtually is. If a mother wnats the embryo for burial—seriously?—I’m sure she gets it.

          I think the body donations are a spot on analogy. No illegal act involved, no harm done to anyone (according to the law), no good from the non-use of the body/fetal tissue, potential good from its use. Meanwhile, hospitals DO sell organs, but a patient can demand to keep what has been taken, though they never do.

  4. Before I go any farther, I believe that fetal tissue is crucial to research. With that said, I can see an argument in favor of the Board’s decision to deny access to such tissues. Ryan and I may agree with Turley may not believe that such use incentivizes women to have abortions however I do believe it does incentivize sellers of such tissues. Such sales commoditize aborted fetal tissues and the commoditization of other human tissue donations is not a far fetched reality. Do we want to be like China that forcibly removes kidneys so that others can have a transplant.

    Imagine a society that becomes insensitive to the concept of the sanctity of life. It is not outside the realm of possibilities that we could begin to allow doctors to withhold life saving but costly treatments in order hasten the demise of a potential donor. For example: assume we have a 28 year old MVA victim with severe head trauma. His intercranial pressure has exceeded 30 for weeks and doctors have told the family that it is unlikely that he will ever recover significantly. After 3 weeks in the ICU the medical costs have risen to about $275,000. Are we at the point that we are going to say let’s stop throwing good money after bad. The guy is an organ donor and he is a match for a person in need. Are we willing to let doctors or insurers make the call to take the patient off the vent so he can become a heart donor? I certainly hope not. This could have happened to my step son who did make a reasonable recovery and lived for 15 more years. We need to incentivize doctors to save all lives not just the ones that can yield the greatest overall lifetime value as is recommended by Dr. Ezekial Emmanual.

    I don’t know if there is any way to evaluate this except on moral grounds. Ethically, you are not harming anything directly and may actually create great long term value. But this analysis is predicated on speculation as to the future costs and benefits. When I started thinking about the law, the concept of the fruit of the poisonous tree came to mind. I know that abortions are legal but I am looking at this from the point of view as to why we prohibit the use of evidence of a crime using Constitutionally proscribed methods. We are willing to throw out all sorts of incriminating evidence that ties a serial killer to a crime (waste) to protect the rights of the many. It is for that larger more important purpose that we are willing to waste valuable evidence and let a killer go free. The concept is a doctrine not a law that courts use to create a significant deterrent for law enforcement to not take shortcuts. Making fetal tissue available only for the most important research priorities and denying it to most would create a relatively high quasi-valuation that reflects how we as human being value that which had the potential of becoming a fully formed human being.

    There is no doubt that human fetal tissue is an important research commodity. However, it might be wise to evaluate how the costs of collecting and storing such tissues is recovered and who is permitted to do such collections. Widespread collection and sales of fetal tissues hastens such insensitivity to human life. It seems reasonable to not want to see a valuable research commodity simply incinerated as medical waste but it is equally reasonable to foresee the inevitability of abuses with respect to marketing, production, and distribution of human body parts for profit. Sometimes keeping the genie inside the bottle is a prudent call.

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