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Will members of the religious right pass on smallpox vaccines
November 29, 2001 8:27 PM   Subscribe

Will members of the religious right pass on smallpox vaccines in the event of an attack? Apparently many of the smallpox vaccines now in use come from work done in 1966 on aborted fetuses – which presents a small dilemma for some anti-abortion conservatives.

"I think this scenario puts pro-lifers in a tough spot, and I'm not sure we need to accept this as the only alternative," Earll said. "We need to call on the government to put more research effort into this before we invest our tax dollars into a vaccine that comes from a tainted source."

Of course these are the same people who oppose potentially life saving research on stem cells and cloning. Some think that eventually the religious right will have to make some hard choices about their stance on fetus research. As scientific research marches on, will potential medical pay offs out weigh moral opposition in the future?
posted by wfrgms (14 comments total)

 
I question your premise, wfrgms. On what basis do you presume that hypocrites will have the least difficulty in decrying the technique while reaping the reward?
posted by rushmc at 9:13 PM on November 29, 2001


Yeah, rushmc. Isn't that why we're stuck with 64 colonies of stem cells that won't regenerate, so Bush's friends wouldn't end up hypocrites when they could have had those perfect-match heart transplants except that initial research tainted the whole methodology. Boy am I glad I was out of the country during that stem cell stuff.

Isn't the scary part what happens when you get an outbreak in some area where everyone rejects it on moral grounds and passes it on to the rest of us so we can die too? Real pro-life, uh huh.
posted by phoenix enflamed at 11:08 PM on November 29, 2001


On what basis do you presume that hypocrites will have the least difficulty in decrying the technique while reaping the reward?

By this logic, we should decry as "hypocrites" all those who question our government while enjoying the safety and freedoms that it provides. Let's set the nonsense aside, OK?

As scientific research marches on, will potential medical pay offs out weigh moral opposition in the future?

Historically, it seems to be the case that mainstream religious belief moves with the times, albeit slowly. For example, 96% of all Catholic women in the United States who have had sex have used a modern contraceptive at some point. 50 years ago, unthinkable!

Depending upon the spin one wants to put on it, this sort of thing reflects either gradual progress in the sophistication of religious practice, or an inevitable decay of morals in the face of temptation.
posted by marknau at 11:18 PM on November 29, 2001


First, I would like more information on the origin of this aborted fetus(singular)......you do know, don't you, that the medical term for any miscarriage is spontaneous abortion, right? After all, this was 1966 when abortion on demand was not legal(there may have been some exceptions, but I mean in general.)

By the way, I understand a lot of medical advances came out of Nazi Germany .....from the concentration camps where hapless Jewish victims were the guinea pigs.......
posted by bunnyfire at 11:55 PM on November 29, 2001


marknau, people participate in their government, at least in America, thus questioning it and reaping its benefits are not at odds. Questioning and challenging the government are part of democracy. So, no conflict there.
If a person were to believe that government is inherently wrong, on a moral level, then your analogy would hold.
If a person believes that fetal research is morally wrong, and that person knowingly takes advantage of that research, what better word than hypocrite can be used to describe him?
posted by Doug at 11:57 PM on November 29, 2001


Luddite hypocrisy, whether religious or not, is almost inevitable. For example, a person who is fundamentally opposed to computerization (for whatever reason) nonetheless purchases food at grocery stores which use scanners and computerized POS terminals, indirectly employs computers when registering a vehicle or using a telephone and all other manner of daily activity. The only luddites who aren't hypocritical are those that don't participate in technological society at all -- like Ted Kaczynski (sp?).



And it's not just Ludditism - for example, I am staunchly opposed to the US Social Security system, and I would prefer that it not exist at all. But I have no choice but to contribute, so I'm damned well going to take whatever benefit I can get.



Implicitly mandatory participation in modern society makes hypocrisies inevitable.
posted by yesster at 6:24 AM on November 30, 2001


Well, I'm "pro-life" and against fetal tissue research, but only because I'm afraid it will lead to more unborn children being killed. Even if there were any killed to produce smallpox vaccine, my not using the vaccine wouldn't bring them back to life or do them any good. It's too late to help them, so I don't see why using the vaccine would be hypocracy.

Maybe it would be worthwhile to refuse the vaccine if that would help prevent such research in the future, but that seems unlikely too, so I don't see any point.

So yeah, I might feel bad about where the vaccine came from, but I don't see why it would be hypocritical to use it.
posted by straight at 6:33 AM on November 30, 2001


straight: Fetal tissue researchers don't go to the local Planned Parenthood and ask for the day's stem cells. Stem cells don't work unless they're no more than a few days old - not the time frame for surgical abortion. Most are leftovers from fertility clinics that wouldn't have been implanted anyway. Non-viable embryos, not those cute little fetuses, a few dozen cells. If the clients already have their successful implantation and want no more kids, it's too late to "help" these cell clusters either.
posted by phoenix enflamed at 7:01 AM on November 30, 2001


By this logic, we should decry as "hypocrites" all those who question our government while enjoying the safety and freedoms that it provides.

Most certainly, if by "questioning the government" you mean "opposed to the democratic structure of the U.S. on moral grounds." As Doug said.

Implicitly mandatory participation in modern society makes hypocrisies inevitable.

Your examples don't match this particular case, though. It is in no way mandatory for an adult in this country to partake of a particular medical treatment (see "Christian Scientists").
posted by rushmc at 7:15 AM on November 30, 2001


So yeah, I might feel bad about where the vaccine came from, but I don't see why it would be hypocritical to use it.

What if it were being produced by a company in Bangladesh that was killing 5-year-olds and extracting it from them to ship to you? Would you still feel the same?
posted by rushmc at 7:17 AM on November 30, 2001


...like so many things, morality only seems to apply to other people...
posted by aramaic at 7:30 AM on November 30, 2001


So yeah, I might feel bad about where the vaccine came from, but I don't see why it would be hypocritical to use it.

What if it were being produced by a company in Bangladesh that was killing 5-year-olds and extracting it from them to ship to you? Would you still feel the same?


If it were going on *now* and buying the vaccine would support it, of course not.

If it had happened back in 1966 and the vaccine was still sitting there...well, I still might be inclined to say we should destroy the vaccine as a statement that such methods were totally unacceptable. Whereas I can't see saying that about the current smallpox vaccine, so maybe I am a hypocrite.

But I could understand someone who felt we should go ahead and use the hypothetical Evil Bangladeshi vaccine if the evil was over and done with and using the vaccine wouldn't support further such atrocities.
posted by straight at 8:35 AM on November 30, 2001


What if it were being produced by a company in Bangladesh that was killing 5-year-olds and extracting it from them to ship to you? Would you still feel the same?

What if your 5-year-old daughter was dying and the only thing that could save her life was an antidote produced by your hypothetical Bangladesh company? Would you softly kiss her forehead and whisper, "Sorry, honey, you have to die because of MY scruples"?
posted by joaquim at 12:59 PM on November 30, 2001


"When people talk about cloning, they're thinking about multiple copies of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and they're scared about that."
Daniel Perry, executive director of the Alliance for Aging Research, an advocacy group that promotes stem cell science.
A quote from today's New York Times.
It's enough to make you reconsider everything.
posted by y2karl at 5:41 AM on December 18, 2001


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