What Wine Goes Best with Stem Cells?

When making statements about the religious right, are you sometimes tempted to give Catholics a pass? Because they do things like acknowledge evolution or make overtures towards a belief in rational inquiry? Maybe that’s a mistake.

In the wake of Obama’s stem cell decision, Edwin O’Brien, Archbishop of Baltimore, said:

“It’s a pity that we have to turn to harvest other vulnerable human beings purposes for scientific purposes. I never thought we would be able to justify that.”

Note the word “harvest.” He isn’t the exclusive dealer in such lazy rhetoric. Many anti-science Christers have been using this language, using words like eugenics and making silly comparisons to Nazi “science.”

Are we really supposed to believe them? My dad posed it this way: I have diabetes. What is likelier to offer a cure? Stem cell research or the magic of baby Jesus?

It seemed, for a brief flicker there, that we were now able to stop having such conversations. Not so much.

And so it goes.


One Response to “What Wine Goes Best with Stem Cells?”

  1. chris_close_2000@yahoo.co.uk Says:

    Including people with learning disabilities in our communities cannot be done simply by saying ‘come in, the water is lovely’. Appropriate specialised training and support is needed to assist people’s development.

    I am a great believer in the validity of the work carried out by the earlier researchers. Anne and Alan Clarke, Neil O’Connor et al. before the fanatics put the boot in.

    Rational researchers concluded that if skilled and appropriate training was given even the most severely handicapped people could learn and develop in intellectual and practical ability.

    I believed that should be one of the principle roles of ATCs and staff experience and training should contribute to those objectives.

    For the ten years prior to NDG Pamphlet 5 1977, the will was there amongst many staff – but not the opportunities. After Pamphlet 5, between the late 1979s and mid-1980s, these aims were becoming fashionable and in those few years those who were able moved in that direction.

    They did not think they had it buttoned up — only that they were heading in the right direction.

    The promotion by the King’s Fund Centre of a total inclusion theory and its acceptance by the major charitable organisations and self appointed experts killed those projects just as the evolutionary process was beginning to get results.

    My concerns are that without a specialist and structured resource being available the opportunity to fight for one in the future will be irretrievably lost.

    For those not profoundly handicapped enough to get the Ivan Cameron input, nor capable enough to benefit from ordinary community resource input there will be no hope.

    When these resources are sought in future the predictable response from the eugenics lobby will be:

    ‘We tried that with Adult Training Centres for 40 years and it did not work’.

    Who will be able to argue against that unless it could be established that neither the evolutionary process nor ATCs as resource centres were given the same length of time to prove their worth as Valuing People and Valuing People Now have been given without much glimmer of hope of success?

    When Wolf Wolfensberger, wrote to my friend Charles Henley in 2006 comparing the points Charles was raising in the UK with what was happening in the United States he added significantly that:

    ‘It is also ironic that “valuing people” has become a slogan used by people who are all in favor of abortion, infanticide and euthanasia.’

    Eugenics was by no means a NAZI creation.

    The principle that the white race was superior was widely accepted in both intellectual and mainstream thought in America and Europe during the 19th and early 20th century.

    After Darwin published his land mark principles of evolution, important writers in America and Europe began to develop a new science which they called eugenics. Many eugenic laws were passed in America and other countries, especially Protestant counties, aimed at sterilizing retarded individuals–often youths.

    The NAZIs in fact used American laws to justify their program, but built a much expanded program aimed at not only retarded children and adults, but physically handicapped children as well.

    At first the NAZI program focused on sterilization, but eventually it evolved into the T4 euthanasia program–state sanctioned murders by medical personnel.

    Charles Darwin’s land mark work on natural selection had been widely accepted by the turn of the 20th century by scientists if not by the general public.

    This an increasingly sophisticated understanding of genetics gave rise to the Eugenics Movement in the early 20th century.

    Eugenics has been described as the science of improving the human race through the careful selection of parents.

    As practiced in the early 20th century it is probably best described as a movement than a science.

    Those with “good” characteristics would be encouraged to have children. Those with “bad” characteristics would be sterilized.

    The problem was in defining just what constituted an improvement. Many promoting the program focused on outward physical characteristics which usually resembled themselves.

    Eugenics gained an enemas following in America and European countries. There was also an eugenics program in Australia which took mixed race children away from aboriginal mothers.

    I fear for the growth in this being an acceptable viewpoint in terms of people with learning disabilities unless we move away from the process of marginalizing learning disabled people and promoting the idea that lives that cannot be ‘normalised’ are in some way ‘invalid’ lives.

    Hence my continual emphasis on the need for specialist and structured service and choice being the main themes and that evolutionary processes and rationally modernised day services should be accepted as contributory means towards that process.

    We can all share our knowledge and experiences; try to impress on all carers the extent of the current injustices; stress the need to present a united front and, and not least, to understand that Carers have been taken for a ride.

    Although local authorities are pulling the trigger it is their own charities that have supplied most of the bullets.

    The way I see it is that the decimation of structured and specialist support services is so irrational it is almost incomprehensible that it is allowed to continue.

    The fact that the destruction continues bears testimony to the power of those who have promoted extreme inclusion theories and the vested interested support they have gathered from freeloaders beguiled by career prospects and commercial gain.

    Nothing will change until one of the leading lights has the integrity and the courage to admit they got it wrong – an adults’ Baroness Warnock. I can’t see that happening so there is need for objective and informed debate in the public domain – fair publicity could blow the frailties of the current trends apart and shame or expose the culprits.

    That is when the full weight of carers and practitioners’ united opinions will be crucial.

    But getting into the public domain is not easy. There is a lack genuine interest from the media if not dramatic or sensational, and an absence of intervention by a high level popular public crusader.

    This has been the most disastrous policy debacle in half a century and these folks and their carers have been betrayed by the people and organisations they most trusted.

    I can never be convinced that ad hoc and fragmented services will economically meet the widely complex and diverse needs of the people concerned.

    To my mind, the only way an equitable and coherent policy can be reached is under the wing of a professional national government agency able to offer a range of genuine choices as outlined in the spirit but not content of Valuing People.

    Equally, day centres can never hope to respond to other than a proportion of these needs – but, if properly run, are essentially a vital part of an overall programme.

    In the same respect an ‘incremental’ evolutionary policy is right for some, whilst the ‘situational’ inclusion policy appropriate for others. I do not think that private enterprise is geared up to perform the assessments in this respect.

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