Not So Fast, Art Caplan

ChelseaEmbryonic Stem Cell Research, video2 Comments

In this recent exchange with Charmaine Yoest on Fox and Friends (h/t Jill Stanek), Art Caplan was defending embryonic stem cell research with the false idea that ESCR is still very “primitive” and that, when it comes to stem cell research, (@ 3:39), “If you’re in a wheelchair, if you have a child with diabetes you want to see everything tried.”

Mr. Caplan, I am in a wheelchair and I certainly do not want to see everything tried. Not when “everything” involves the deliberate use and destruction of tiny human beings. Excuse me, but my ability to walk is not worth the cost of another human life, no matter how small. Besides that, many people in wheelchairs like myself and stem cell research advocate James Kelly, would rather see money and scientific effort focused on using ethical stem cells that have actually had real success in treating human patients with spinal cord in jury (see here, here, here and here)

As to his assertion that ESC science is still “too early” – this is just a typical auto-response from ESCR advocates who don’t want to turn their backs on the research, but cannot come up with a good excuse for its complete failure so far. This despite decades of research in animal models. To be clear, when Caplan and others comment on the “primitiveness” of ESCR to explain why it’s so far being out-shined by the success of ASCs, they’re talking about the federal tax dollars that presumably are not being spent on ESCR. Says Caplan (my emphasis):

The science is very primitive because we haven’t had federal money backing the embryonic side

This is just simply not true. The federal Government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on ESCR in animals and humans. See Jivin J’s critique of Caplan’s other remarks in this regard.

And what about those pesky “left over” IVF embryos that Caplan mentions? Someone recently asked me if I would rather have them used for research to save lives, or just destroyed. I responded:

Inevitable death does not justify the use and destruction of human life for scientific research. My ultimate choice would be that none of these embryos be created in the first place. Since they are, however, there really is no ethical option for IVF embryos that will never be implanted. Being thrown away, used for research or perpetually frozen – all are equally beneath their dignity as human beings.

The bottom line here, of course, is that no matter how primitive or advanced the research is, it’s simply unethical, period, and it’s advancement is no real progress for human-kind – no matter how effective it may ever become in the future.

2 Comments on “Not So Fast, Art Caplan”

  1. I like your statement that “Inevitable death does not justify the use and destruction of human life for scientific research.” This follows from JPII’s personalist principle–that we are never to use someone as merely a means to an end. This principle goes for the youngest human beings as much as for anyone else, and the fact that we will die one day does not change our dignity as human beings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *