Well if this isn’t timely…

Does William Saletan read this blog? Based on this piece on Slate, I think he does, because it sounds a lot like some of the comments in this post. He may have a cool chart, but I still like you all better. While this is a good piece (possibly because he doesn’t do much of the writing himself), Saletan has too consistent a history of ticking me off for me to throw myself blindly behind this article. But the chart is interesting.

Even better than Saletan is an anonymous person on Slate’s forum, who writes one of the most compelling arguments for stem cell research (and one of the most scathing attacks on the “culture of life”) that I’ve read in a long time.

As it happens, I have adopted one of those frozen embryos in a fertility clinic that this debate whirls around. My son—my six month old baby boy—is the blessing of embryonic adoption and that has without question transformed my life. It is troubling to hear so many talk about the disposition of these embryos when so few actually have any exposure to the process. So, having actually done more than talk about those frozen entities and done something about it, I’d like to take the opportunity to inform those who insist on meddling in the very private matters of those of us involved in these processes.


And inform he does. My favorite section:

First, ‘conception’, ‘life’ and ‘living distinct beings’ are not the same thing as ‘fertilization’, no matter how much it serves one’s purposes to make it so. Fertilization and the creation of blastocysts is an unremarkable event that takes place daily. If that embryo doesn’t implant, there is no conception, no life, no pregnancy. Every day millions of women have ’embryos’ floating around in their uteri, flush them during menses and nobody bats an eye. These embryos that have not implanted and sunk a vein and begun the process of advancement are not, even by the most conservative of standards, life. Nobody posits funerals or mourns for the millions of these that are, with no awareness, flushed every day.

Give a woman as many pregnancy tests with an embryo inside her that has not implanted as many times as you like—there will be no positive result, pee on as many EPT sticks as you like, no plus sign. This is why after an IVF transfer (the two week wait) people so anxiously wait—they are hoping—desperately—that they have CONCEIVED. It hasn’t happened yet.

That embryo may or may not implant and create a conception, a pregnancy, but one thing is for certain—those women who get their period without ever knowing there was a fertilized egg that failed to implant are not flushing ‘living distinct human beings.’ There is the potential for a conception—nothing more. So, ladies—suck it up and deal—Bush and DeLay need you to stop menstruating post haste—just cross your legs and get thee to a an OB-GYN every 28 days. You see, we need to blood test you and ultrasound the hell out of your uterus in case you absent mindedly were about to flush a ‘living distinct human being’, because we’re all about a ‘culture of life’—just not yours. You’re an incubator. We need to stem the flow of blood in this culture of death, and apparently that means your menstrual flow.

Secondly, these frozen embryos are so incredibly valuable to the administration that they cannot be used for embryonic stem cell research… because they need to be… THROWN OUT! What they fail to understand is that the disposition of these embryos, like banked chord blood or donated blood or tissue donation, lies with the donor. When you participate in an IVF cycle you sing a form that determines what happens to any leftover fertilized eggs. The choices are cryogenic preservation for: adoption, stem cell research, later transfer to the originating parent, medical research or destruction. DeLay, Bush and his cohorts are saving nothing. It’s not as though these embryos in cryogenic willed for research are know suddenly going to be adopted or implanted. They won’t—our ‘culture of life’ perversely demands that they be thrown into the garbage—that’s how precious they are, and that’s how much we value them. We must destroy life, according to the administration, to AVOID preserving life! Go back and re-read that sentence.

Go back and re-read the whole thing.


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5 comments for “Well if this isn’t timely…

  1. May 26, 2005 at 9:13 pm

    that was a convincing argument, especially considering the unique commentator. glag your blog continues to inspire debate and discussion, if not Slate articles!

  2. May 26, 2005 at 9:14 pm

    glad, not glag. that was one of the least elegant sounding typos i’ve made

  3. amanda
    May 26, 2005 at 10:21 pm

    I can’t believe you are dissing Saletan!

    Mostly, Saletan isn’t writing articles to try and convince people of things (although he does sometimes). He is usually analysing other people’s arguments, and pointing out the flaws in either side. That’s what he was doing with the table as well – showing how hypocritical Bush is by showing actual arguments Bush has made.

    Sorry, I love your blog, but I cannot put up with anything said against Mr. Saletan. I love him.

  4. May 27, 2005 at 3:03 am

    Yeah, I was a little hard on Saletan. He’s a great writer, and an important critic. But I have a long-standing beef with a lot of his views on the abortion issue and the pro-choice movement in general. I find him a little patronizing, short-sighted and more interested in dividing a complex issue into an “abortion war” than actually taking it on comprehensively. So that’s my issue with him. But I read his stuff often, and I think he generally makes sense. And as you pointed out, he’s a fantastic critic. Hopefully you can excuse my criticism of him and continue to read/love Feministe anyway!

  5. amanda
    May 27, 2005 at 4:08 am

    I’ll try.

    Oh – who am I kidding? Of course I will keep reading!

    Here in Australia the abortion debate isn’t nearly as horrible as it is in the US (although it’s getting that way), and I find Saletan really helpful in the way he points out the tactical mistakes made in the US by the pro-choice side, so that hopefully we can learn from them.

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