Thursday, August 13, 2015

How Bad Is That?

[Squick, emotional-trigger, and seriously-grown-up-content warnings.]

Oh-oh. Presidential campaigning is always an invitation to muckrakers, and somebody's finally found a bit of dirt that could "stick" to Dr. Carson.

How bad is this? Y'know, I don't think it's bad at all. In the early 1990s everybody was reading/viewing The Case of the Frozen Addicts (one for that "Best Movies" forum on Blogjob!) and thinking about the hope and promise of fetal tissue work. It was a few years later that researchers admitted that, of the things they'd hoped to do with human stem cells, none absolutely required fetal tissue; adult bodies grow stem cells too, and adults are often willing to let their stem cells be harvested.

Then again, I've never been in any confusion about the difference between a fetus and a baby.

I am admittedly disgusted by the idea of marketing abortion to young women as the "right" to the "choice" they should be more concerned about protecting than any other right or choice. I'm more disgusted by that than I am by the "pornography" in Cosmopolitan. Chalk it up to the formative experience of having sat with the would-be mother of a fetus who had naturally, unpreventably, spontaneously aborted his repulsive-looking little self rather than become an adorable baby. I did not observe the aftereffects of anything I would ever consider choosing. Women can die that way.

I'm disgusted by the idea of making use of fetal tissue, which would inevitably lead to marketing fetal tissue, which would very likely lead to encouraging young women to start and abort more fetuses. If fetal tissue had turned out to have any special medical value, that might have offset the squick factor associated with using it, even the moral questions involved in its becoming available. But the value of fetal tissue turned out to be just like the hope that spontaneously aborted fetuses could be artificially incubated and reared into babies in hospitals: a flash in the pan.

Turns out that a fetus really is, in some critical ways, a female body part. Once it gets outside the female
body to which it belongs, about the most useful thing to do with a fetus is bury it. And, yes--much as I would've liked to think that, in the twenty-first century, fetuses like the one I had hoped would be my baby brother would have a chance to become babies, and children, and adult humans--it does satisfy my feminist soul that at best, even for laboratory purposes, a fetus is a poor substitute for a person.

In 1992 we did not know this, so how is it possible to blame a doctor for working on one of the research projects that taught us that there's no special medical use for fetal tissue?

It's possible if, and only if, you believe a fetus is a baby. To me that suggests some sort of severe perceptual impairment--nobody would ever sing "Isn't She Lovely" to a fetus--but apparently some Republicans have that brain quirk. Possibly those Republicans are also unable to forgive Dr. Carson for not sharing it.

I hope not. Before this tidbit came in, I had been planning to reply to a comment on another blog that I know my Republicans--the ones who send me news items and campaign documents, at the rate of two to three hundred e-mails a day plus the Blaze feed and things they tell me in real life. That's true, but then again the popularity of Bogus-As-His-Hair (or, at the Language Log, "Hell Toupee") demonstrates that I don't know some Republicans.

Looks as if the question now facing Ben Carson is what percentage of Republicans both (a) believe that a fetus is a baby, and (b) do not practice Christian forgiveness. If it's a substantial percentage, I will be disappointed in Republicans. (Not for the first time; Nixon's resignation speech was one thing I did have an opportunity to watch on TV.) And nature may have intended Dr. Carson and his family to be happier in the U.S. Senate, anyway.

If a majority of Republicans do practice Christian forgiveness, we may still be talking about our first fully ethnic-minority, genuinely blue-collar-origin, Republican President. And jolly high time.