Mrs. Q’s Corner: Fetal Tissue Research And The Slippery Slope

by Frances Quaempts

[This, the latest installment of Mrs. Q’s Corner, responds to the discussion of the Trump Administration’s ban on fetal tissue research, and the issues raised in this post particularly.]

I know slippery slope arguments can be annoying, however we have seen, for example, how the years of race-baiting rhetoric that “all cops hate blacks” has led to the current madness. In that spirit I wonder, regarding this issue, just how far the commodification of unborn baby parts could go.

Once upon a time, child sacrifice in some societies was acceptable and even the rule. It would be nice to think we have evolved behaviorally to never entertain such horror, yet after seeing the way recently groups of teens and wild-eyed adults have chased and surrounded those they presume guilty of wrong-think, like jackels, could such barbarism make a comeback?

Could we justify using women to become “tissue-makers” if only they are compensated? Could we justify using the unborn for things like soda flavoring or hair products? Is that already happening? Could we jump from using the unborn to born but with defects or some other issue? Can we justify cannibalism as a means to “save the planet?” Is utilitarianism sometimes an excuse to rationalize the dehumanization of people in order to push through some grand and supposed ideal of humanity that isn’t even possible in a Star Trek episode? Will sacrificing a child or adult make the harvest plentiful when it has in the past?

The “downstream” issues that come up after supposed good ideas are well implemented can be the cause for even greater problems that generations have to deal with later. We have seen the good idea that women are equal turned into women degrading themselves in the name of a sexual revolution that mainly has benefited immature men.

We have seen how the good idea of fighting racism has led crowds to burn down the businesses of those most affected by racism. We have said the Red Scare was utterly without merit while Marxism has slowly poisoned our county using the arts, education, and media as a means for indoctrination.

Of course women should be equal, people of all races should thrive, and if someone wants to believe in some secular utopia where the proletariat magically rules the world, in this country they can. The downstream of it all is not simply the what of something or even the why, but the how. How do we avoid justifying dehumanization in the name of helping humanity? How do we use materials of any kind wisely and with respect? How do we check our unethical rationalizations so we don’t do more harm than good, no matter how utilitarian or beneficial the item or action is?

The fetal tissue/unborn baby parts debate demonstrates the potential for barbaric utilitarianism justified by man-made laws. It’s an excellent topic to examine the interplay of ideas, rules, benefits, and consequences in society. Ultimately my opinion on this topic is both moral and ethical. Flawed of course, but at least I am alive to make these considerations.

6 thoughts on “Mrs. Q’s Corner: Fetal Tissue Research And The Slippery Slope

  1. I abandoned the idea that “people will set logical boundaries themselves” when two well-respected and famous bioethicists, known for pioneering a framework for “secular altruism,” advocated, in writing, that the killing of newborn babies should be legal if the babies aren’t wanted. And especially if they’re disabled in some way.

    There is no objective standard now. Anything is possible, without hard legal boundaries. The slippery slope is real and slippery people go down that slope even faster.

  2. Mrs Q
    You have eloquently encapsulated what I was trying to get across some time ago.

    I have a great deal of trouble with using Benthemesque ideas such as Utilitarianism to justify anything. Anyone who has ever taken a first year Economics course is taught that utility is a subjective valuation.
    As a result, no one can accurately assess what is the greatest good for the greatest number. Such valuations are developed by individuals whose biases affect the costs and benefits. It is technically impossible to establish a fixed value for anything because individual ordinal utility rankings change constantly. There are very things that could even be considered for Cardinal utility in which we can accurately fix a priori value.

    You would think “life” would be one of those things but even then we create ordinal utility for life. We have no laws protecting insects but abuse a pet and you run afoul of the law. Think about it we have no problem if we smash a squirrel or possum under our car tire but we feel worse if it is a dog or a cat. We have no problem killing a fly but to physically end the life of a mouse is more difficult. When it comes to human beings the law creates what value we place on life. A mass of cells is ok to be destroyed with as much concern as swatting a fly to some. The law decides when we must stop destroying life and those laws are decided by very few whose valuations of life can be vastly different than society’s as a whole.

    On the flip side those who suffer no maladies that could benefit from fetal tissue research place much more value on the research than that mass of cells. If the law says that the mass of cells is able to be discarded at will and would be otherwise wasted then Jack’s original argument could be valid if and only if the law does not lead to further desensitization to the ending of human life.

    But, how do we know if the current value of life among inner city blacks has not been negatively affected by Roe v Wade insofar as they assume that aborting a potential baby is no big deal? Maybe the costs do outweigh the benefits because we have failed to understand the entire cost benefit matrix. Some claimed video games desensitized kids to killing but why just single out a fictional source of influence when they are aware of the real world destruction of life advocated by many in their communities.

    People learn the value of money through work. People learn the value of life when they are forced to look death in the face.

    Again, Wonderful Post

  3. I’m sure Hitler and the Nazis would have had no problem killing babies in the third trimester if there were signs of birth defects detected using ultrasound technology which fortunately wasn’t available when they were in power. Hopefully Roe vs. Wade will soon be overturned.

  4. I’ve often wondered if we will reach the point like in the movie “the matrix” with artificial wombs (I put the link on another post) and growing fetuses. The ick factor makes me shy away from the idea of babies who never have any humans to belong to and what happens to them. I hope this never, ever happens. There’s something so vile about this concept it’s not something I can think on.

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