Saturday soapbox

Saturday’s soapbox

Saturday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation.

You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, to muse or amuse.
:) kindest, Boris

19 Responses to Saturday soapbox

  1. Andrei says:

    The deconstruction of marriage

    The only question worth asking about gay marriage is whether anyone on the left would care about this crusade if it didn’t come with the privilege of bulldozing another civilizational institution.

    Gay marriage is not about men marrying men or women marrying women, it is about the deconstruction of marriage between men and women. That is a thing that many men and women of one generation understand but have trouble conveying to another generation for whom marriage has already largely been deconstructed.

    The statistics about the falling marriage rate tell the tale well enough. Marriage is a fading institution. Family is a flickering light in the evening of the West.

    The deconstruction is destruction. Entire countries are fading away, their populations being replaced by emigrants from more traditional lands whose understanding of the male-female relationship is positively reactionary. These emigrants may lack technology or the virtues of civilization, and their idea of marriage resembles slavery more than any modern ideal, but it fulfills the minimum purpose of any group, tribe or country– it produces its next generation

  2. TraceyS says:

    Away from the topic of gay marriage, just for a moment, if no-one minds too much…

    A few years ago I would never have supported the idea of mucking around with genes in human embryos. Whilst it is easy to sit back and make arms-length judgements about these things, it is not so easy to take the moral high-ground when the experience becomes a personal one.

    My views changed when my niece was born with a genetic disease caused by a recessive gene that many of us in the family carry, something we were previously unaware of. However, in the United Kingdom advice from the Human Fertilization Authority (HFEA)(http://www.genomeweb.com/blog/broad-support-mitochondrial-dna-transplants) to the government may soon lead to decisions which will allow processes to be applied to human embryos in order to prevent such diseases.

    I don’t see any choice. If we have the technology to prevent disease and suffering then it should be made available to people. All parents deserve to have healthy children if they can, however they can.

    Many people might be unaware that NZ offers a small number of couples the opportunity to have their embryos tested so that the healthy ones can be selected. But a large number of eggs need to be produced and this isn’t always possible. Technologies such as the one being considered by HFEA might overcome that problem.

    The research indicates that the procedure is safe, so why wouldn’t we?

    I would suggest that anyone against this has no idea what it feels like to pass on suffering to their children from their own genes. See also http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/call-raise-awareness-rare-disease-video-5379346

  3. Andrei says:

    Oh Tracey, no!

    This is a big, big, topic.

    We are all mortal and we all carry genetic baggage which will eventually kill us – it is part of our humanity and the human condition. The woman in the video, Memory Eternal, was no spring chicken and had had kids. She might lament that she has passed some bad genetic baggage to her kids but do you think she regrets their very existence?

    For a start genetic screening in petri dishes is wrong because it destroys embryos who are human beings and denies them their right to life and who is to say what these people might have been if given their opportunities that were denied.

    My wife’s family carries thalassaemia, she has an afflicted sister, put it down on a form when she was pregnant and was asked if they wanted to test the unborn for it. But why, we were going to love our child whatever. Anyway who knows if our kids are carriers, life is a lottery and carrying thalassaemia is not all bad as it confers an immunity to maleria, which is why it is common in Eastern Europe and Asia.

    Here’s the thing Tracey everybody will in their extended family find some genetic disease or other. And as science advances in this area more afflictions will be related to genes, so you will know at birth the chances of this cancer or that cancer, heart disease etc etc etc and ultimately if you weed all the “bad” genes out there will be nothing left

    There is and always will be suffering and heartbreak in this life and using science to alleviate it is good but using science to snuff out life because that life if permitted to continue will endure some suffering is wrong and following this to its logical conclusion means we should just go extinct to end all human trials and tribulations forever.

  4. Andrei says:

    You know Tracey, I’m no luddite, I’m all for using genetic engineering to create better onions or bacteria to produce human insulin for diabetics but to monkey around with the human species itself fills me with alarm.

    This is Frankenstein stuff which will inevitably lead to designer children, ultimately to the extinction of males if some get their way.

    Ever read “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, highly recommended

  5. TraceyS says:

    Is performing medical procedures on an egg or embryo really so different to surgery on a foetus or a new-born? Any procedure should meet the criteria for being absolutely necessary of course, especially on someone who can’t have their say about it. But some conditions are so serious that they warrant intervention in my view.

    My children don’t suffer from the genetic condition their cousin has, but they could be carriers like my siblings are. I have not organised the testing because I have finished having children and we do not need to know if the children are carriers for the time-being. I’m not going to say what it is, but it is not just a genetic disposition to cancer or heart disease. That news would be much easier to handle, mainly because you have some level of control over these things via epigenetics. Other diseases are not so easy to modulate and will follow a set course pretty much. So there’s a lot of hope for some conditions, and with others – not so much. You really rely on future medical innovation.

    The medical technique I referenced might actually help avoid selecting and deliberately discarding embryos – something that already happens as you know with IVF treatment. An agonising situation for many and not something I’d want my children to have to go through when they are older. Not many people seem to be aware that NZ funds a handful of genetic screenings per year, only for very specific conditions. Ours is one of those funded.

    The woman in that news item, Debbie Tatai, only wanted to raise people’s awareness of neurofibromatosis. Maybe she considered it was better to be informed than not to be. What anyone decides to do with that information is a very private matter.

  6. TraceyS says:

    “This is Frankenstein stuff which will inevitably lead to designer children, ultimately to the extinction of males if some get their way.”

    I cannot agree with you Andrei. Denying medical innovation to good people because there are some nut-cases out there who might exploit it is quite abhorrent to me. It’s not a good justification at all.

    You obviously don’t know much about the IVF process. You’d have to be bonkers to choose that over the natural method unless you absolutely had to. But some people are crazy and that will always be the case.

  7. Andrei says:

    I cannot agree with you Andrei. Denying medical innovation to good people…….

    Would you accept conceiving a child to be a tissue donor for a living person who needs a transplant Tracey?

    It has happened, to obtain bone marrow for transplant at least – we are not far off from the day where a child will be born to provide a liver, kidney or heart for an ailing sibling or even parent perhaps, maybe this has happened already on the hush hush.

    How do you feel about people being born not to live for themselves but to be providers of spare parts?

  8. TraceyS says:

    Given your views, Andrei, how would you propose to prevent a couple with these intentions from having a baby? You couldn’t. The only way would be to hold back science and that deprives all deserving others of relief from pain and suffering. See:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130218103026.htm

    My original comment drew attention to a procedure that uses a spare egg (not a fertilized embryo) to prevent mitochondrial disease. The above link refers to the use of stem cells, which are often harvested from umbilical cord blood at birth.

    Ironically, medical innovation may in future eliminate the need for the kind of horrors that you describe.

    Let’s hope that it does.

  9. Andrei says:

    how would you propose to prevent a couple with these intentions from having a baby?

    That’s the thing people like you don’t seem to get about people like me, perhaps because of self projection, but we do not seek to “prevent” anybody from doing anything, rather we seek to convince people via reason why they shouldn’t doing this and why it is terribly wrong

  10. TraceyS says:

    Is convincing not a means of preventing, Andrei?

    I see that you try to convince people. Rather forcefully at times.

    That’s not a problem for me. But some might not find it very convincing.

  11. Andrei says:

    I guess when children through childish ignorance and naivety are about to hurt themselves and/or others badly in trying to prevent this forceful is good.

    No?

  12. homepaddock says:

    Our sons had degenerative brains disorders. An obstetrician told me if we wanted to have another baby s/he could be tested in the early stages of pregnancy and I’d have the choice of an abortion.

    We never found out what caused the boys’ problems so wouldn’t have known what to test for but I wouldn’t have gone into a pregnancy with abortion as an option anyway.

    However, had we been able to rule out the condition by using IVF I would not have hesitated. You might think I’m dancing on the head of a pin but I see a significant difference between the two.

  13. Andrei says:

    This is heavy stuff for an Easter Sunday evening

    One of my sisters carried a child she was told to abort, she carried this little girl because she shares my views of course.

    The little girl was called Rachel, she lived a day and was baptised and buried – very sad for all concerned.

    But she lived and we believe lives still and she is not forgotten.

    Your boys live too I believe and I feel your grief but despite the pain aren’t you glad that they are real people that were part of your life, if for an all too short time.

    I don’t know if you are a believer or not but the real meaning of this Sunday is that your boys live on.

    Christ is risen from the dead,
    Trampling down death by death,
    And upon those in the tombs
    Bestowing life!

  14. Andrei says:

    There is an old saying “Hard cases make bad law”

    And here is the promise with IVF we can weed out fell genetic disorders that make us all weep.

    But IVF is becoming ever more common and mostly not used for that purpose.

    And it can be also used to pick embryos to produce blue eyed boys just as easily as it can be used to weed out thalassaemia, say.

    Thus multiple embryos are created, and this is how it works, multiple embryos are created and some,usually more than one, implanted.

    So how do you feel about discarding the brown eyed girls and keeping the blue eyed boys?

    Think this wont, or isn’t happening? Bearing in mind that China is thirty million females short today through sex selective abortion favouring male children.

    And of course another dirty little secret about IVF is that multiple embryos are implanted and if a multiple pregnancy results some are culled, the unwanted are killed with a needle through the heart – this is not all sweetness and light, it is scary and needs to be openly discussed.

    Remember when abortion was supposed to be “safe, legal and rare” and yet here we are with one in four pregnancies in this country ending in “termination”.

    None of this fills me with confidence for the future.

  15. homepaddock says:

    Yes, I’m glad my sons were, and still are, part of our lives. They taught us so much for which we are grateful.

    Science and medicine can be used for good and bad. The Chinese example shows misuse is not just an ethical issue but causes social problems too.

    That doesn’t change my support for IVF – with strong ethical protocols, even though there is a danger it could be used for eugenics or to produce designer babies.

  16. TraceyS says:

    The technique I wrote about is called spindle transfer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spindle_transfer and http://www.nature.com/news/dna-swap-technology-almost-ready-for-fertility-clinic-1.11651). It does not make it possible to alter eye colour etc. It works only to prevent mitochondrial diseases, including diabetes, and some neurodevelopmental disorders. But if it is accepted then this may (or may not) lead on to more advanced techniques.

    The big question really is; should fear of what “might be” prevent people from being helped in the present? I do not think so.

    If an unfertilised egg is known to have a faulty shell and a transplant (from a donor) can be done before conception, in order to prevent suffering, then that is humane. This could actually avoid making lots of embryos and choosing the least affected such as occurred when a woman in the US last year “used standard genetic screening to select an embryo with low levels of faulty mitochondria. She also chose a male embryo” (Fertility and Sterility, vol 98, p 1236).

    According to Shoukhrat Mitalipov, the pioneer of spindle transfer, if the UK or US don’t do this then other countries with less oversight will. Would China make a more ethical setting?

    UK consultation with the public has indicated support for the procedure (http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-announcement-of-hfea-advice-to-government-on-mitochondrial-replacement/).

  17. Andrei says:

    The big question really is; should fear of what “might be” prevent people from being helped in the present? I do not think so.

    For all the spin this is an abomination – it is creating in the lab a human chimera, a child with two mothers, neither of whom may be the one who actually carries said child in her womb.

    You might be beguiled by Satan’s sweet words about helping people but it is all coming <a href="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+3&version=KJV"<from the master of deceit

    Not that you will listen – like all of our miserable , self absorbed, self centered generation the most important thing is to get what we want now and bugger the consequences for everyone else, including your own children who will be the biggest victims of these follies.

    You know the character behind this has created monkeys with six genetic parents including some that are both female and male genetically. Do you really want this Frankenstein introducing his laboratory creations into the human gene pool?

    You will probably accept all of this is it means wealthy post menopausal women and homosexuals can produce their vanity children, which is what this technology is really about at this point.

  18. TraceyS says:

    “Not that you will listen – like all of our miserable , self absorbed, self centered generation the most important thing is to get what we want now and bugger the consequences for everyone else, including your own children who will be the biggest victims of these follies.”

    You might be surprised, Andrei, to know that I opted for no pre-natal testing during my second pregnancy – not even a scan until I went overdue.

    My first Midwife said there was no point testing if you wouldn’t act on the results.

    That was right for me and my family, but I would not dare to say that it would be right for everyone.

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