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July 27, 2007

Comments

Great points Melinda, my friend Alan will surely be stymied!

Not at all Patrick, Melinda's points are predicated on certain theological beliefs to which she and you are certainly entitled to hold but which you all are not entitled to compel others to observe.

If she and you are correct that these are children then it would seem that we have several thousand hundred cases of child abuse and endangerment. Does Melinda advocate CPS going into court and making these "children" wards of the court? Do you?

If you want to regulate the number of embryos created, this would seem to be a valid approach but, for cost reasons would have to be part of a national health plan.

Of course that would mean looking at the issue from a rational public policy point of view instead of the preferred theological/sentimental approach.

alan says: "Does Melinda advocate CPS going into court and making these 'children' wards of the court?"

I don't think CPS has jurisdiction. Congress could certainly create jurisdiction (and possibly an agency to administer it), in which case it would have to deal with the specifics of the situation (which are by their nature different from the specifics of the situation that CPS was designed to deal with).

Or do you believe -- are you trying to argue -- that IVF should be deregulated, and NO jurisdiction applied to it?

"If you want to regulate the number of embryos created, this would seem to be a valid approach..."

I don't understand the connection here. Please expand on this. To try to clarify my probable misunderstanding, let me point out that we don't regulate the number of children under jurisdiction of CPS, so why would you use that analogy to justify regulating the number of embryos created? And why, in the first place, do you postulate that "we" want to regulate the number of embryos created?

"Of course that would mean looking at the issue from a rational public policy point of view instead of the preferred theological/sentimental approach."

This is nothing more than namecalling. If it were taken seriously, it would refute itself.

A public policy is an attempt to reach a desired goal. A desired goal is desired, by definition, because of a sentiment (desire IS a sentiment).

You, alan, wish to pursue rational public policy without sentiment, which is equivalent to pursuing rational public policy without any purpose. Throw away the sentiment that defines the purpose, and you throw away the goals. Throw away the goals, and you throw away the ability to evaluate effectiveness. Throw away evaluation, and you throw away rationality.

So don't throw out sentiments.

Explain why it's wrong for us to _base_ our public policy on our desire to protect the lives of these innocent human beings. Or take us back to the foundations of this discussion and explain why they're not innocent human beings. Or perhaps explain why the public policies we're advocating could never be refined to achieve our desires (note that we've never claimed to present a complete policy; we want a chance to produce one).

Alan wrote:"Does Melinda advocate CPS going into court and making these "children" wards of the court? Do you?"

That does not matter as it does not speak to the ontological status of the unborn Alan, it is a different question altogether.

Alan also wrote:"Not at all Patrick, Melinda's points are predicated on certain theological beliefs to which she and you are certainly entitled to hold but which you all are not entitled to compel others to observe."

You are absolutely 100 wrong. What you and others have to do is refute the clear science, as clear as the earth is round and not flat, that these unborn are human beings. You have no right to compel unborn humans to surrender their life because of your scientific imbalance and ambivalence.

Alan,

Your snobbery is extremely distasteful.

A philosophy derived from Christian theological foundations is not second class nor null and void in public discourse. Like any philosophy it seeks to provide answers for ethics, metaphysics, epistemology and logic.

RATIONAL = None theological derived thought?

Even a "RATIONAL" public policy point of view would require some sort of moral presupposition as a basis of discussion. Who's fundamental moral elements would be used in your rational discourse?

Is the person in your garden compelled to do anything? Or is his/her personhood void, only claiming for themself what narcissistic thoughts come to mind?

Alan -

I should be used to your arrogant and condescending attitude by now, but I guess it still takes me by surprise sometimes.

The pro-life stand does not need to be theological or sentimental in basis. In fact, I know someone who is an atheist (and also very interested in science) and yet is pro-life. Why? Because she understands that an embryo is a human being.

And the question that I always ask pro-abortion people is, if it's not a human being, then what it is?

Not only do I never get a satisfactory answer to that question, I usually don't get an answer at all.

I don't think Alan is being snobish, he's bringing up a valid point. Congress stepped in with the 1866 Civil Rights Act and ultimately the 13th & 14th Amendments to give the stateless persons, formerly black slaves, standing in the law. Because of the uneducated state in which the vast majority of those slaves existed, they became wards of Congress.
Alan,from a judicial view, aren't the frozen embryos effectively wards of the court/government right now until this is settled one way or the other? Possibly of the Executive Branch?
I think governments primary duty is to protect it's citizens, and since the human life cycle begins at conception, then it seems to me that government should err on the side of the embryo in a dispute. The courts statement in Roe, 'that we don't know when life begins', seems to be an ignorant statement, even in 1973.
We all are taking our positions based on our theologies, I and others from Christian theology, Alan's is from atheistic theology.
All theology means is how we view the subject of God. We view Him from a Biblical perspective and Alan denies His existence I assume.

Hi William, if an eight-celled entity is indeed a child then the laws protecting children should be invoked. A parent who locked their child in a closet 24/7 would have their parental rights terminated and the child would be placed in foster care at public expense. if our embryo is indeed a child then keeping it frozen is abuse akin to locking it in a closet. The "child" should be seized by CPS and a donor womb located and the "child" implanted at public expense.

I have a simple rule: If the solution seems unworkable, there is a flaw in the reasoning somewhere along the line. In this case, it is the curious notion that a frozen blastocyst is a child.

There is nothing wrong with emotion or sentiment as long as it is grounded in reality. When it isn't we wind up with bad policy.

It also helps to be honest. The honest approach here would be to make IVF illegal. As long as we have IVF, there will be more embryos produced then will ever be implanted and as long as we persist in a for-profit health care system there will be more embryos implanted then will ever be born.

Australia limits the number of embryos that can be implanted, eliminating the necessity of later reduction. This is possible because Oz has a national health care system that picks up the cost.

That solves the problem of implantation, however the problem of fertilization remains; fertilized eggs are culled based on apparent quality, as I understand the process, and there seems to be no way to avoid this.

Of course we could look at this realistically and understand that if a fertilized egg is a child then over 50% of the humans that have ever existed never got past the first month of life. What that says about the value of the individual in the eyes of any "designer" is interesting, to say the least.

Why is there a refusal to acknowledge a simple reality here? We have several hundred thousand frozen embryos that will never be implanted and are slowly degrading. "Adoption" will only deal with a very small number of these and only the "freshest" ones at that.

"Hi William, if an eight-celled entity is indeed a child then the laws protecting children should be invoked."

Indeed. Same with a million-celled entity. That makes sense.

"if our embryo is indeed a child then keeping it frozen is abuse akin to locking it in a closet."

This is equivocation. You're confusing the stages of human development. Locking a blastocyst into a closet (alone) will kill it almost instantly; locking an older child into a closet alone won't. Freezing an unsupported blastocyst will save its life; it will kill an older child.

"I have a simple rule: If the solution seems unworkable, there is a flaw in the reasoning somewhere along the line. In this case, it is the curious notion that a frozen blastocyst is a child."

No, it's your curious notation that a blastocyst can be treated identically to an older child. Both are children (in the broad sense of the word); but they are children at different stages of development. A teenager cannot survive on colostrum; a newborn cannot survive on the food the teenager needs. The CPS' policy takes this into account; it does not and cannot under current law take into account the differences between proper treatment of embryos and already-born children.

But that's just a matter of establishing laws.

"There is nothing wrong with ... sentiment as long as it is grounded in reality. When it isn't we wind up with bad policy."

A human's purposeful desire is the ground of that human's actions. In that sense, sentiment shapes reality. You're correct, of course, if you meant to say that the desire must be achievable (it seems reasonable to guess that this is what you meant).

I do agree that IVF complicates the situation enormously. I don't agree that the only alternatives are to have taxpayers pay the bill or to ban it; it would also be reasonable to have a law stating that preplanned reductions are not permissible, so that performing IVF with larger numbers of embryos than are actually supportable would not be legal.

This would reduce the expected success of an IVF, reducing the number that are performed but decreasing the willful killing rate (and giving incentive to increase the survival rate).

Of course, other laws would be needed as part of this policy, but that should sketch out the shape of my policy on the subject.

There's certainly (well, probably) nothing intrinsically wrong about IVF. The problem comes when we set up the incentives such that it's more encouraged to kill embryos than it is to bring them to birth.

P.S. -- apparently there are actually 100 trillion cells in an adult human body. My post above speaks of a "million-celled entity", which probably makes that entity pre-viable. I intended to refer to an older child.

Here again we are missing the point. The point is that it is human. From conception through a normal human life cycle, a human changes. The characteristics exibited by a human blastocyst is as normal part of the human life cycle, as say the changes that take place at puberty. The question is whether it is human, not what portion of its life cycle it's in.

That is the main thing, Tim. As I said in my previous comment, the question I never, ever get an answer to is, "If an embryo (at any stage of development) is not human, then what is it?"

As usual I suppose I will continue waiting.

Hi William, no equivocation here. In both cases development is being prevented. If you wish to argue that implantation is an important determiner of status, I will, of course, we willing to consider that argument.

While I have some problems with your other arguments, your main point seems to be that the situation is more complicated than one might deduce from the "it's a child" approach that seemed to form the basis of the original post and that was my point. In fact, the level of complication is such that, much as with Ptolemaic astronomy, we are better off discarding the original proposition, as the weight of the explanations is too much a burden.

As long as we have a for-profit medical care delivery system, procedures like excess implantation will have an incentive. Fixing our health care system would have a lot of advantages.

""If an embryo (at any stage of development) is not human, then what is it?""

Hi Mo, that is not the central question once we move into the legal realm. "Human" begs the question once you advocate criminal sanctions in a secular nation and once again we are back to theology.

A little digression:

"As long as we have a for-profit medical care delivery system, procedures like excess implantation will have an incentive."

That's simply not true -- or if it is taken as true, it ignores the fact that a not-for-profit system will have the exact same incentives. It CLEARLY saves resources to inject more embryos at a time. This is true no matter who's paying the bills.

Therefore the question is not who's paying the bills; the question is whether they are allowed to make the decision to attempt more implantations than can actually be carried to term. The same laws can bind private actors as well as public ones.

"Fixing our health care system would have a lot of advantages."

Definitely so. I don't agree with the way you intend to fix it -- and clearly the reasons you're citing here are not good arguments for your fixes.

"Hi William, no equivocation here. In both cases development is being prevented."

No. In one case development is being distorted; in the other case it's being "put on hold". You might as well argue (in the other direction) that giving a teenager only human milk in a cup (and no other means of sustenance) is the same sort of action as giving a blastocyst nothing but a steak and a steak knife. One will stunt growth; the other will destroy life.

Sensory-depriving a newborn is abuse. Sensory-depriving a blastocyst is normal.

"While I have some problems with your other arguments, your main point seems to be that the situation is more complicated than one might deduce from the 'it's a child' approach that seemed to form the basis of the original post and that was my point."

No. My point is that your argument ad absurdum requires the lemma that "all human phases of development should be treated identically," which is indeed absurd; you've proven only that _that_ is false.

I will state what you know to be true: it is abuse to treat a 3-year old the same way you _should_ treat an 18-year-old.

That doesn't affect the fact that all stages of development of an individual human being are worthy of human rights.

"...that is not the central question once we move into the legal realm. 'Human' begs the question once you advocate criminal sanctions in a secular nation and once again we are back to theology."

So you believe that criminal sanctions MUST be theological in a secular state? That's an odd statement.

-Billy

"Therefore the question is not who's paying the bills; the question is whether they are allowed to make the decision to attempt more implantations than can actually be carried to term. The same laws can bind private actors as well as public ones."

Hi William, you neglect a couple of important points. In our for-profit system, one of the driving forces is the insurance companies. Under our present system, limiting the number of embryos implanted would put the process out of the reach of many. A national health system , especially in a nation of 300 million, has a huge base which would make limits feasible.

Dude, I'm trying to help you out here. Folks who are motivated enough to go through IVF will likely make good parents so it is probably to our advantage to help them out. If we can accommodate your concerns by spreading the cost around, it seems like good policy to me.

Your objections might make more sense except that we have several decades of experience with many varieties of national health care systems. Every industrialized nation except the United states has one and they all work better then the health care system we have (better overall outcomes at far less cost). I would prefer my health care dollars to go to reduced implantation than some insurance company executives bonus, but that's just me.

Now, we have a fertilized egg in a freezer. It is a wasting asset. Biological entities that are frozen deteriorate over time. A child in a closet, deprived of human contact will never acquire certain normal human features. Every human stage has its critical windows. Our embryo needs "A", our three year old needs "B", and our twelve year old needs "C". the system is currently able to deal with providing "B" and "C", yet you doubt its ability to provide "A".

There are two issues here. If you wish to prevent more embryos that will never develop or that wind up being culled at creation then ban the process.

The other issue is the hundreds of thousands of embryos that are currently frozen. Creating a policy paralysis by insisting are defining them as "children" hardly seems helpful. At some point each one will age to a point that no one will want to risk implantation. The number of prospective donors and prospective wombs for "adoption" is no where near the number that would be needed (hundreds of thousands). You keep skirting around what is a qualitative difference that can't be overcome by insisting on placing them in the "child" category.

Sorry if I wasn't clear. A theological basis alone isn't sufficient to impose a criminal penalty in a secular state. That's what I read what I wrote as meaning but I hope this clarifies things.

Adultery and murder are both against your religious laws but we prosecute one through the state abd not the other. That is because one can not make a convincing secular case for jailing adulterers.

>>A theological basis alone isn't sufficient to impose a criminal penalty in a secular state.

It's interesting to me that you consider our arguments to be completely theological. Nowhere does the Bible teach explicitly that a fetus or an embryo is a human being. The only "theological" (i.e., "value") statement we make is one I think you would agree to--that is, that all human beings are created equal with rights that no one has the right to take away. Beyond that place of common ground, all of our arguments throughout our website addressing why the fetus should be considered a human being (and why the differences between us and a fetus aren't relevant for determining rights) are completely secular, based on reasoning. You might disagree, but the arguments aren't theological.

On the other hand, for a person to randomly decide between human beings which characteristics make a person worthy of rights seems to me to be quite a "belief" statement that one can't back up concretely, but is only based on preference. And this doesn't seem to me to be worthy grounds for removing rights from a human being.

"Creating a policy paralysis by insisting are defining them as 'children' hardly seems helpful."

So? Is it *correct*? I mean, defining native-born people as "citizens" wasn't *helpful* to former slaveholding states -- but it was the right thing to do.

"You keep skirting around what is a qualitative difference that can't be overcome by insisting on placing them in the 'child' category."

No; we keep pointing out that they are qualitatively immature human beings; minors, to be kept under care and protection.

What exactly is the qualitative difference to which you refer? The only thing you've brought up is that they have to be cared for in a different manner, but I've carefully rebutted that by pointing out that there are many other human stages of normal development that require special care.

On a side issue:

"In our for-profit system, one of the driving forces is the insurance companies."

More accurately, our regulations which make those insurance companies so highly incentivized. They aren't the only possible option, you know.

"Under our present system, limiting the number of embryos implanted would put the process out of the reach of many."

And this is a problem... why? No, really! It's a good thing. IVF is expensive and dangerous (to the fetus). Making it less dangerous makes it more expensive, but the expense can be reduced by increasing the chance of success ... as a positive side effect, the costs of 'reduction' abortions would no longer be a factor, so the total cost would go down.

Making IVF 'free' to the customer would increase the number of IVFs carried out (obviously), thus reducing resources available in other medical fields.

Hi William, I fear one of us is missing something here. Are you under the impression that we can keep several hundred thousand frozen embryos implantable forever or until what?

The "invisible hand" isn't going to solve the implantation problem, only regulation will.

Instead of making up scenarios, please explain why national health care systems that work just fine in every other industrialized nation (better overall outcomes at lower cost) are unworkable in the United States?

"The only "theological" (i.e., "value") statement we make is one I think you would agree to--that is, that all human beings are created equal with rights that no one has the right to take away."

Hi Amy, while not so dramatic, our rights are probably more accurately rooted in the natures with which we East African Plains Apes evolved over time.

The notion that these rights extend to conception is meaningful only in the context of an immortal soul that is somehow part of things from conception and in the context of a creator God who is involved in matters. That is theological.

Otherwise experience and biology would seem to argue against the concept. We are faced with a simple biological fact; around 50% of all fertilized human eggs fail to implant and another 10% or so will abort on their own, most of them in the first month of pregnancy. I think it fair to use that statistic as a fair indicator of the value an impersonal nature or (if you will) a personal God assigns to the unborn.

And the central issue here isn't being able to come up with some rationale that provides a continuum from conception to senility. Rather it is when, under our Constitution, the interest of the state trumps the right of a woman to not be forced to carry a pregnancy to term.

While your "secular" case may properly work to influence social policy, it simply doesn't measure up to the standards required to deprive folks of life, liberty and property. It is just as plausible, if not more so, to assert a concept of personhood that is dependent on neural development.

The term "human being" is being used as sort of a deus ex machina here, an evasion and equivocation that obscures rather than clarifies.

>>The notion that these rights extend to conception is meaningful only in the context of an immortal soul

The notion of any equal rights for humans (apart from their characteristics--race, intelligence, etc.) is meaningful only in the context of a God who created us equal, which is why I said that was the only theological part of our arguments. However, this view of equal rights is a belief that we have accepted in our society, whether or not it can be grounded in non-theistic thought, so I think it's a good "common-ground" place to start.

What you're missing is that, from that point of equal rights, all of our arguments address why we ought to have rights from conception with completely secular arguments that have nothing to do with God by explaining why the differences between us and a fetus aren't relevant for determining rights--including arguments from experience and biology (or are you not familiar with SLED?).

>>Rather it is when, under our Constitution, the interest of the state trumps the right of a woman to not be forced to carry a pregnancy to term.

It's always in the interest of everyone for the state to protect human life, even if some people are inconvenienced. And, again, we argue that the fetus ought to have rights based on completely secular arguments (beyond the argument that people in general have rights, of course, which is, as you pointed out, something that can only be grounded in a Creator, but also something we accept in this society).

>>While your "secular" case may properly work to influence social policy, it simply doesn't measure up to the standards required to deprive folks of life, liberty and property. It is just as plausible, if not more so, to assert a concept of personhood that is dependent on neural development.

Actually, we give secular reasons as to why that view is *not* as plausible. But…are you familiar with our arguments, or are you just assuming they're theological?

"Hi Amy, while not so dramatic, our rights are probably more accurately rooted in the natures with which we East African Plains Apes evolved over time."

Why do you characterize this as less dramatic? It seems, furthermore, to be equally as metaphysical of a statement as the claim that rights come from a personal God.

"The notion that these rights extend to conception is meaningful only in the context of an immortal soul that is somehow part of things from conception and in the context of a creator God who is involved in matters."

Why? What does the immortal soul have to do with human rights? Why do we award some humans "human rights" without checking to see if their soul is immortal? What does conception have to do with an immortal soul?

Your claims above are _entirely_ theological, and worse yet, they're being made by a person who is almost entirely ignorant of theology.

"I think it fair to use that statistic as a fair indicator of the value an impersonal nature or (if you will) a personal God assigns to the unborn."

Another theological argument. This time unabashedly so. And this time it's without any attempt to apply your theology to our lives. Suppose that this IS the value Nature or God assigns to embryos. So what? What does that imply WE ought to do?

Nature assigns a low value to the life of a man stuck in a burning building. Does that mean firefighters shouldn't go in after him?

"And the central issue here isn't being able to come up with some rationale that provides a continuum from conception to senility."

Nobody's offering a continuum. The issue is: how shall we treat the unborn, the thing that you are proposing we should be able to kill? It's a very simple question, and answering it requires that we first answer the question: "what is the unborn?"

"it simply doesn't measure up to the standards required to deprive folks of life, liberty and property."

Exactly our argument. Thank you.

"It is just as plausible, if not more so, to assert a concept of personhood that is dependent on neural development."

In order to talk about this, you have to start wondering what a _person_ is. That's frankly metaphysical. Then you have to start wondering what the rights of a person (as opposed to a human) might be. Why don't you want to stick with what we actually know -- humanity and human rights?

"The term 'human being' is being used as sort of a deus ex machina here, an evasion and equivocation that obscures rather than clarifies."

Okay. Then what _are_ you proposing a woman should have the right to kill?

Sorry, I know this thread is about abortion, but Alan slipped this one in: "Instead of making up scenarios, please explain why national health care systems that work just fine in every other industrialized nation (better overall outcomes at lower cost) are unworkable in the United States?"

Are you serious? I guess you need to define "fine" (as in "work just fine"). What is your yardstick for "overall outcomes"? Please don't tell me you're relying on Michael Moore for your information. Socialism will never be able to compete with capitalism for producing innovation and the best product at the lowest cost.

Alan, your comment:

'Hi Mo, that is not the central question once we move into the legal realm. "Human" begs the question once you advocate criminal sanctions in a secular nation and once again we are back to theology'

Of course it is the central question. And that's why whenever this issue comes up, this particular question is avoided and ignored and the topic is changed. At least you are taking it a step further in claiming that it should not be the central question.

But how can it not be? If the answer is yes, it is a human being, then other questions are raised about how this human being should be treated. If the answer is no, it is not a human being, then the questions about how it should be treated would be completely different. Would they not?

Why does this discussion need to be theological at all? Like I said before, I have a friend who is an atheist. She has no religious basis for being of the conviction that an embryo is a human being. It is because she is convinced of the scientific argument, not any religious argument.

The question of whether an embryo at any stage of development is human or not human is a scientific question, not a religious/theological question.

Cannot atheists also have a respect for human life that says it is wrong to murder an innocent person, at whatever state of development it happens to be?

Hi Paul, I didn't slip it in, I was merely pointing out some possible solutions to the problems with IVF.

Here is an interesting chart:

http://angrybear.blogspot.com/2005/04/real-crisis.html

Here is a report:

http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/publications_show.htm?doc_id=401577

Ezra has an interesting series of comments including a summary of several national systems down in the mix:

http://ezraklein.typepad.com/blog/health_care/index.html

Hi, Mo, I guess I'm not a humanist. I see it as a developmental issue so up to a certain point the Constitution and our mammalian wiring trump any arguments to the contrary. The built in mortality rate for early stage humans argues against the high value you place on them.

>>The built in mortality rate for early stage humans argues against the high value you place on them.

Can you explain your thinking on this a little more for me? Infants die more easily than teenagers, as well, but I'm not sure I understand how that changes their value. How do you see that changing their value?

I'm afraid Alan Aronson makes a valid point in showing that the problem is IVF. There must always be a surplus of embryos harvested in order for several tries at implantation before a successful pregnancy. This surplus begs the utilitarian argument we deal with now. Is it really possible for all surplus embryos to be adopted out? The Roman Cathlolics were ahead of the curve on this one in the '70's. I really don't think we will be successful politically on this one. It's time to cut our losses. God needs to come down and sort this one out, along with some other issues. It won't be pretty.

'The built in mortality rate for early stage humans argues against the high value you place on them.'

I am unclear on this as well. It sounds like you're saying that because babies are completely dependent on someone else in order to survive (and therefore would die easier than say, an older child) that because of this they are worth less. Therefore, it's no big deal to kill them.

Now, if I'm correct that this is what you mean, it would make sense for someone who is for abortion to say it. At least it is honest, as well as consistent.

Hi Amy and Mo, I'll try to answer this evening. No Mo, that is not what I mean.

Hi Alan,
I read the links you posted. The first gives very little in the way of hard numbers, especially when the numbers they give can be influenced by many things unrelated to health care (e.g., infant mortality rate may or may not be related to the quality of the healthcare system). The second didn't really give an explanation for how they arrived at their scorings, and I didn't see scorings for other countries. What it certainly didn't show is that a system of socialized health care would fare better (you think our "efficiency score" is low now, wait until you throw in a heap more bureaucracy to run it). The third is a bunch of emoting and conjecture from a leftist blogger. None of them provide much in the way of evidence for the future success of any socialized medical program in the U.S.

I think what Alan meant by "the built in mortality rate for early stage humans argues against the high value you place on them" is something along the line of: "if God places such a high value on these unborn humans, then there wouldn't be so many of them dying (before being born)". Please correct me if I'm wrong, Alan, I'm just trying to infer your meaning. I don't think his argument works very well, since one could as easily argue: "look how many humans (of all ages) die -- ALL OF THEM. God must not care about people at all."

"I'm afraid Alan Aronson makes a valid point in showing that the problem is IVF. There must always be a surplus of embryos harvested in order for several tries at implantation before a successful pregnancy."

No, Alan isn't right in this one. IVF is not intrinsically immoral, because its purpose is to create life that would not otherwise exist, NOT to destroy life. However, IVF as it is currently practiced is immoral, because it involves creating more children than the parents can possibly support, simply because we're not skilled enough at IVF to give the first try a reasonable chance to succeed (and we're not willing to pay for an attempt without ensuring a reasonable chance of success).

Alan's correct that there are two morally correct choices: either ban IVF entirely, or regulate it so that the problematic practices are not an option. The former choice would "throw the baby out with the bathwater"; the latter choice would decrease the probability of success for each attempt, but would provide strong incentive for medical science to improve the chances of success.

Of course, Alan also thinks that state-controlled and funded medicine is part of the solution, but that's a completely different argument.

"No, Alan isn't right in this one. IVF is not intrinsically immoral, because its purpose is to create life that would not otherwise exist, NOT to destroy life."

Hi William, my understanding of IVF is that after fertilization, there is a preliminary sorting for embryo quality. Something like this seems unavoidable hence any use of IVF will unavoidably involve the destruction of fertilized eggs.

Alan, it's possible to sort eggs and sperm -- I do not see why ONLY embryo sorting could accomplish what you wish. There's certainly nothing intrinsic about it.

...although I admit that I would expect triage to occur.

For example: I don't expect to attempt to implant an embryo which will not survive implantation; I hope we can use our existing political system to choose the correct policy for where to draw the line. It's clearly not triage to decide not to implant a female fetus (it's simply abandonment); it's clearly triage to not implant a fetus with a profound defect which will kill it a few days after implantation. In between are some gray areas -- and of course, what happens to the rejected fetuses?

But the gray areas are in the definition and performance of triage, not in the acceptance of "choice". We can no more chant "leave it between a mother and her doctor" than we can chant "leave it between a man and his hired assassin!" We must flesh out the gray areas so that they serve public policy; not so that they _define_ public policy.

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