>National Review Online gives us an editorial written by Dennis Boyles about the difference between the United States and most of Europe when it comes to abortion and stem cell research.
Abortions are limited or illegal after the first trimester in much of Europe, and there’s even a discussion about pulling the UK’s limit back from 24 weeks to 22 weeks or earlier. Laws in other countries forbid or limit abortion according to the weeks of gestation:
France: 12 weeks
Germany: 12 weeks
Italy: 13 weeks
Sweden: 18 weeks
US: limits after 26 weeks
Australia: No limit
While the US has no national laws that ban any sort of embryonic stem cell research or cloning by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT), most nations in the world has laws to forbid any cloning at all for research and few allow destruction of embryos for research. France, in particular, forbids SCNT and only allows research on embryonic stem cells from donated embryos. The European Union actually tightened their policies this summer.
From the NRO article:
When the issue of stem cell research came up before the EU last July, Germany and Austria led the effort to impose common-sense restrictions, as the Daily Telegraph reported. Elisabeth Gehrer, Austria’s science minister, asked if the EU really wanted “300-400 fertilized human embryos to be destroyed to create stem cells? This destruction of human embryos to create stem cell lines is not something we can support. We do not want community money, which includes Austrian money, to support this.”
Gehrer’s comment was reported under a wistfully misleading headline and lead in the International Herald Tribune, which also quoted the EU’s research commissioner: “[The EU] will not pay for the destruction of embryos with EU money,” he said. This was echoed by Germany’s research minister, Annette Schavan, who told reporters, “The protection of human dignity, the right to life, need to be properly entrenched. There should be no financial incentives for the destruction and killing of embryos.”
>Not a good idea in the US. The situation there is *far* too polarised for a compromise right now. Look at South Dakota for an example.If the US were to lose its currend (untidily imposed) judicial limits on prohibiting abortion… then very quickly, a limit would be set. The limit would be zero weeks. There can be no middle ground, because one side of the debate – yourself excluded – is a collection of self-rightous fanatics who are convinced that allowing a single abortion is a terrible crime that can never be justified – and both sides have demonised their opponents to the point where whenever one side makes a statement, the other immediately claims the opposite.If history had gone differently, if there was no Row ruleing, then sensible term limits could work. They could have been debated and legislated on calmly and reasonably. But in the current climate, its just not going to work. Its one way or the other, no compromise, no debate.
>I'm curious about your use of the term "self-righteous." Please explain.I see the change similar to emancipation and/or sufferage without regard to race or sex. We handled both in the past, and I hope we learned a few lessons about how to make changes for a wider, more inclusive group of humans.
>You wont get agreement on who is truely rightous – its completly subjective.Thats the problem with rightousness. Anyone can honestly believe they have it. Some of the most immoral people I can think of, judged by general consensus, believed they were campaigning for 'right.' Hitler believed he was acting for the rightous cause of restoring the superior race. Stalin, and most of the famous communists, believed they were working for the rightous cause of freeing the workers from oppression. The Inquisions had the most rightouts of all – they were saving the immortal souls of the people by rooting out and removing heretics. In more recent times, the infamous Phelps is convinced it is his rightous duty to inform the world that 'God hates fags.'This is why I dont think anyone is competant to judge their own morality – everyone is good in their own eyes.A self-rightous person is someone who doesn't just judge their own morality (noone can help doing that, even if they are incapable of doing it objectively), but who then claims loudly that they have the moral high ground – that they are the undisputed Right, acting in the cause of Good, with those capitals well-earner. The term applies espicially when the 'rightous' position is either contriversial or actually unpopular.The emancipation and sufferage comparison doesn't work here. This is not a question of 'do embryos/fetuses have rights?' – its a question of how to balance the rights of two groups. The developing humans and the mothers – both of them, argueably, have a basis for various rights. The embryo a right to life, and the mother the right to make decisions regarding her own body and fertility. Awkwardly, increasing the rights of one of those *must* reduce the rights of the other. Its an unfortunate consequence of biology.A right to life is a fairly fundamental thing, and under most circumstances would easily outweigh the competing rights of a woman's authority over her own body and future. But the development really complicates things here, as whatever it is that *earns* the right to life, embryos dont seem to have it. My response to this is to assign the right gradually, and admit that there is no magic moment when the boundry is crossed. Yours is to assign that moment at conception, on the grounds that human life is inherently special, not because of any unique attribute that seperates it from other life, but simply because it is human.There are further complications after that, still. At times, perserving the life of the embryo/fetus will endanger the life of the mother. Even more complicated, it could endanger just the health of the mother. Which takes priority: The life is an as-yet-undeveloped human, or the health of a fully-developed one who already has their own life, memories, friends and family, personality… very complicated.Thats part of the objection I have to the pro-life position. Its polarising – it demonises abortion so heavily, it paints *all* abortions as terribly immoral acts – even ones which might be absolutly vital to saving the life of the woman.
>It does seem there's a lot of self-righteousness going around.The slave owners did make the point that they had the right to property. Of course, property is less fundamental than life. Women and various groups have been – Non-islamic men and women are still in certain Islamic countries – denied the right to vote or own property on the grounds that they were/are not persons.Lots of issues require a yes or no decision. That's life, not "polarizing." Especially when the laws are changed to afford less protection for more humans – and when that change is defended or used to defend the removal of the right to life of ever more people.I exchanged email the Phelps several years ago. They believe in predistination and works. And of course, none of us can be good enough. So we just keep trying to be better – unfortunately, some choose to be better by declaring others less than we are. They protest. The Islamic behead and blow up. I prefer persuasion.