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Save the wingnuts from existential crisis

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, July 3, 2008 15:24 EDT
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Ken Blackwell, who did his part to help get war-mongerer George Bush back in office in 2004, has a maudlin article about life up at Townhall. No, not Iraqi life, you fools. We can’t imagine that he’s started caring about the lives of people who have nerve endings to feel pain, brains to sense fear, and families that will miss them. The only life that counts, which is embryonic life, with a side hat tip to the critical importance of Republican existence.


We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

-Declaration of Independence

It behooves us all, especially in this pivotal election year, to reflect on the words of our nations Founders in light of medical sciences capacity to infringe upon the first human right, the right to life.

The right of women, who are citizens after all, to have lives, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? No, women, like Iraqis of both genders, seem to fall outside the category of “life” he’s laying out here.

The Sunday Times of London recently reported that a couple screened children shortly after conception who might have had an increased chance for cancer so they destroyed the embryos that had the defective gene. This medical capability in modern day eugenics has terrifying and profound implications for American public policy.

The article started, A woman has conceived Britains first baby guaranteed to be free from hereditary breast cancer. You would almost think that what she and her husband consented to was a good thing.

They had her eggs fertilized to produce 11 female children. They then had a lab genetically test all of them for a gene that increases the chance of breast cancer. Five of them were found to be free of the gene, of which two were implanted in her womb. Shes now 14 weeks pregnant.

The other embryos were all destroyed.

Presumably, all 11 should have been implanted in her, and if they didn’t all fit, then some random woman walking down the street should have been snatched up and implanted with the rest before she knew what was happening to her, and then held under house arrest to make sure she didn’t abort. In fact, considering that IVF procedures usually create more embryos than could be carried by one woman, there should be a program of forcing women to do this. If you focus on the right populations, someone hated like the rape victims of famous athletes or anyone that could be a reasonable stand-in for the hot cheerleader that wouldn’t fuck you in high school, this program could work with minimal objections from the public. Feminists would object, of course, but Time magazine will step in to assure everyone that the kidnapped mothers-to-be will be the recipients of one box of diapers each, courtesy of their local crisis pregnancy centers, which will set them up nicely for all the demands of motherhood. Anything but interfere with the only life that counts, which is the life of embryos.

Okay, there’s another life that so important that considering the haunting possibility that the world could have been deprived of it before we even knew it was there is too painful a thought to bear: The life of Ken Blackwell himself.

I am a cancer survivor. Eight years ago I was treated for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is one of the leading killers of men in the world.

I am also 60 years old. What if there was a genetic screening test for prostate cancer 60 years ago? Would I have been born? As I look at the faces of my grown children, I contemplate that they would never have lived if their father had never been born.

99.9% of people who say, “But if my mother/grandmother had been allowed to have an abortion, I might never have been born!” are arguing that the tragedy of illegal abortion in the past was much graver than we ever thought. They never realize it of course—the Ken Blackwells and Tom Coburns of the world think that their presence in this world was a self-evidently inevitable and important event—but reasonable people pretty much have to disagree with that assertion. But you can’t really argue with people on whether or not the world really needed them to be born, so I resort to saying that if my parents hadn’t gotten busy the night I was conceived, I would have never been born, thus the law must mandate non-stop fucking to be sure I don’t suffer an existential crisis.

How about insisting they be taller than average, or have superior abilities? While youre at it, why not also select the eye color and hair color? Dont just fertilize eleven eggs. Fertilize a hundred, choose the single best one, and destroy the rest.

Considering that no one ever gets pregnant the old-fashioned way anymore, but that the entire human race is being repopulated through IVF, this is indeed a situation we have to worry about. Within a year, no one will be leaving it up to chance. Enjoy those 17 pregnant teenage girls in Gloucester now, folks, because by this time next year, the pregnancy au natural will have gone the way of the do si do.

This is similar in one regard to our recent national debate on embryonic stem cell research. For several years the press and liberals pounded the president for opposing the destruction of fertilized embryos like those destroyed by British doctors for scientific research. But earlier this year scientists discovered a method for extracting stem cells from skin cells called somatic cell dedifferentiation. Now scientists can engage in all the research they like without harming anyone.

To make this clear, he’s arguing that while doing experiments with stem cells is harming someone, tossing those same stem cells in the trash is not harming someone. Which makes sense. If I pull all the hair out of my hairbrush and throw it in the trash like a normal person, I do not increase the world’s human suffering. But if I put some hair in my mouth and chew experimentally to see what it tastes like, I’m committing a grave moral error on the level of murder. These are the fine moral distinctions that plebes like us can’t understand, but Ken Blackwell can, which is why it was very important that he was born.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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