License

I have written an e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which is free to anyone. To download that book, in several formats, go here.
Creative Commons License
The posts in this blog are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. In other words, you can copy and use this material, as long as you aren't making money from it, and as long as you give me credit.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Natural law and oocytes

A commenter suggested that there might be objections to the use of human oocytes (unfertilized egg cells) for the production of embryonic stem cells, on the grounds that their natural purpose is human reproduction, not preparation of cell cultures which might make artificially-produced human embryonic stem cells. (See my recent post on Altered Nuclear Transfer-Oocyte Assisted Reprogramming (or ANT-OAR)) I believe that this sort of objection would be an example of moral reasoning based on natural law. Such reasoning has often been used by Roman Catholic theologians, going back to Thomas Aquinas. Natural Law theory can be complex and ambiguous.

As I understand it, natural law reasoning is used to support the official Catholic view that most or all kinds of contraception are wrong, because the purpose of sexual activity is to produce children, so that thwarting that purpose would be wrong. C. S. Lewis, who was not a Roman Catholic, also seemed to hold that view. (The web page the previous link refers to was written by me, but I have been unsuccesful in persuading the publishers to correct the spelling of my name. There are a few other errors, also minor. I am grateful that it is available, however! The section on birth control is near the end.)

So, would natural law reasoning prohibit the use of oocytes for purposes other than "normal" reproduction? It might, indeed, but I am not sure that it would, or should, for three reasons.

First, both my sources for the technique described are significantly influenced by Catholics. The editor of First Things is a Catholic priest. The other periodical, Ethics & Medics, is a publication of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, which says it "derives its message directly from the teachings of the Catholic Church." The articles in neither periodical raised this objection. (This is a link to the article there, in .PDF format)

Second, under one circumstance, I'm guessing that natural law would not prohibit use of oocytes for such a purpose. That circumstance is if the person who wished to be cured provided her own oocytes. It would seem to me that using your own oocytes in an attempt to save your life, or to significantly improve its quality, would be justifiable morally, even if it wasn't their normal purpose. I'm not aware that the use of self-grafts is opposed on moral grounds, even though, say, removing skin from the back, and placing in the nose, changes the natural purpose of such skin. (Not as radically as using oocytes for ANT-OAR, I admit.) Coronary bypass surgery also generally uses self-grafts, I believe.

Third, selfless giving for others is encouraged strongly by the teachings of Jesus, and, I suppose, could trump natural law. Should a competent ovulating woman volunteer to donate a few oocytes for the purpose of producing embryonic stem cells to significantly aid the life or well-being of another person, even for a person or persons unknown to her, it seems to me that her gift should not be refused. I would oppose any exploitation or coercion of women in order to obtain oocytes, and compensating them materially would be questionable, in my view.

Even if Catholics raised no objections to the use of oocytes in this way, others might, and such objections should be seriously considered. Here's an article on the use of donor gametes in relation to Jewish law. It doesn't consider oocyte donation for ANT-OAR.

I appreciate all comments, unless they are automated ones using my blog to try to sell something. The commenter, Bonnie, has posted extensively on moral issues, including those related to human reproduction, and is worth reading on any subject she tackles. She has some recent posts on autoerotism.

ScienceBlog has a post on "Gametes and embryos from mammalian stem cells: religious and ethics perspectives," which doesn't consider ANT-OAR, but does deal with the subject of its title. Warning: there are quite a few ads on this page.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

[b][url=http://www.louisvuittonoutletmart.co.uk/]louis vuitton handbags[/url][/b] For private secured loan British isles, it is possible to borrow much larger loan amount of money, in comparison with any other personal loan. The speed of desire is usually small coupled with versatile conditions of reimbursement. For all such benefits of personal secured financial loan Uk, all you want to carry out is offer you collateral and be extra cautious about the reimbursement timetable on the loan quantity..

[b][url=http://www.cheapuggsstore.com/]cheap ugg boots[/url][/b] Exclusive message postcards are also successful for organization to business enterprise promotions. "Gatekeepers" who display the incoming mail in many business enterprise and expert places of work will often pass them through to the prospect. And because the postcard is more compact compared to other mail it really is generally put on best with the boss's mail pile.

[b][url=http://www.cheapuggsstore.com/]www.cheapuggsstore.com[/url][/b] Diamond ring would be the symbol of pure like, it generally signifies the loyalty and eternal pursuit to love, just about every bride-to-be hopes to wear by far the most glittering diamond ring on her engagement day. Consequently, women experienced improved study the way to hold your diamond ring glittering. Numerous equipment are extremely delicate into the oily content, the ring [.].

[b][url=http://www.louisvuittonsalemarket.com/]louis vuitton handbags[/url][/b] Most of the previously mentioned will result in lost time and effort, nevertheless, in case you don't have any strategy to capture all these potential customers you deliver. By capturing get in touch with facts you create a prospect database or Do you have one particular or numerous? If not, it large time to create 1. The greater individuals you've on the list, the higher your return on your own financial commitment..

[b][url=http://www.louisvuittonoutletmart.co.uk/]louis vuitton handbags[/url][/b] Weather modifications the feel of the hair. Adjust while in the season or possibly a geographical change implies that you must change your shampoo and conditioners. Medium hair cuts can alter the shape of the facial options. ahead of your generation of people assertive and perhaps outstanding services, men of all ages tend to not gift the true billfolds with each other with zip largely for the reason that it experienced turn out to be definitely not identified to slide simply. inspite of this zip purses associated with lately materialize by getting an uncomplicated and simple to slip after which drawn out going, sturdy zip which will not come to be wrecked basically. They make the standards preserved inside the credit score card abnormal attached like quotation with trouser pockets.

[b][url=http://www.cheapuggsstore.com/]cheap ugg boots[/url][/b] We require this information to your number of destinations we don go with any of our other issues. Section in the premise with the guideline is always to distribute specifics of hosting providers amid persons that wouldn on a regular basis be audience of our information. We want to introduce the internet hosting neighborhood, and hosting solutions, to an audience which will not be thinking about by itself always as internet hosting consumers but which includes the possibilities to learn from your internet hosting partnership.