Hannah, the Little Embryo That Could

On the Senate floor, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback attacked stem-cell research by introducing the world to Hannah, the Little Embryo That Could:

We're talking about destroying the youngest human lives for research purposes. ... I hope some people that may be watching or hear about this -- that have frozen embryos, human embryos -- consider putting them up for adoption 'cause a number of people want to adopt them. The couple that adopted Hannah had infertility problems themselves -- could not conceive, IVF or otherwise -- and so they adopted her as a snowflake, as a frozen embryo implanted. And now we've got Hannah.

Brownback showed the Senate Hannah's self-portrait, where she's drawn herself as a smiling six- to eight-celled clump alongside two less fortunate companions:

This is her smiling because she got adopted and she's here. Here is another frozen embryo -- these are embryos -- that's sad because he's still sitting in a frozen state and then here's one that as she explains is saying "What, are you going to kill me?"

Hannah, the little embryo that could, courtesy of Kansas Senator Sam Brownback

There are at least 400,000 unborn snowflakes that could potentially grow up to become props on the Senate floor. They exist because in-vitro fertilization produces as many as 12 embryos per couple trying to conceive, which clinics will store for a yearly cost of around $500.

The process of getting them donated to another family and implanted costs about $10,000 per snowflake, according to a Christian adoption group.

Only two percent of families allow their excess embryos to become somebody else's snowflake. The rest store them or allow them to be discarded.

Meanwhile, there are at least 100,000 snowchildren in the U.S. who need adoptive parents, many of whom will wait three years or longer. Here in Florida, 4,600 children need parents and could be adopted for as little as $500, which the state will often reimburse. Florida also pays their full college tuition.

Hannah beat incredible odds, surviving the 1-in-50 chance her biological parents would consent to donation, a 50 percent survival rate from the thawing process and a 65 percent chance of an unsuccessful implantation.

If you share Brownback's view that embryos are the "youngest human lives," in-vitro fertilization produces 52 dead, discarded or frozen snowflakes for each Hannah.


It's almost as if he were a double agent planted to make 'pro-life' people look bad. (See what watching TV news can do to a person?)

That goober Brownback (what an appropriate name) could make anything look bad, but none so much as himself.

Can fully matured orphans be frozen indefinitely until being adopted? I think it is an unfair advantage that a child, level: blastocyst, would get greater attention than one that actually breathes oxygen.

This is the sort of absurdity you run into when moral absolutism is pushed to its logical conclusion.

Brownback Mountain is using these "snowflake" kids to try to get people to oppose stem cell research?

Sooo... he's trying to prevent serious scientific reasearch using kids who wouldn't exist without serious scientific research.

Good luck with that.

Do folk like Brownback Mountain and Imoffmymeds actually listen to themselves when they blather this nonsense or do they just tune in and out?

Spud loves the way the religious right has absolutely no scruples wotsoever exploiting children in order to advance their agenda.

Suffer the little children, indeed.

Be Well.

Brownback has no shame. I think it's a cheap, exploitative move to use Hannah's drawings this way. P.T. Barnum stunts can only repel the very people he might wish to persuade, if that's his intention.

Barn burners like this obscure the ethical issues that merit serious discussion by rational, grown-up people. Brownback's pandering to low-brow emotionalism is 'childish'.

I hope I'm not the only one who thinks there's something a little bizarre about calling a frozen embryo a "snowflake", no matter how few cells.

Would you call this de-anthropomorphization?

"Would you call this de-anthropomorphization?"

You could.

Spud calls it Rovean spin.

Spud calls it BUSHIT!

Be Well.

It does make me feel bad for all the children who need adoptive parents.

I think any conglomerate of cells that has the potential to become a person should be treated with respect, whatever its ultimate fate may be.

Brownback could hardly have been more disrespectful of that potentiality than by using them as a ploy in his political showmanship.

If this embryonic stem cell research is going to be such a scientific breakthrough, why does it need public funding? The private sector would be all over it.

That is the question, isn't it? It's not as if the government does this sort of thing better.

Anyway, Who Would Jesus Thaw?

Libertarians generally want a government that leaves us alone, and isn't profligate with the money it extracts from citizens. A rational argument can be made for leaving embryonic stem cell research to the private sector, though I would be concerned about its claiming proprietary rights to developments that could potentially save or improve the quality of millions of lives. I would hope that some arrangement could be worked out that would allow companies to realize a return on their investments, and yet not leave such vital medicine in the hands of corporate extortionists.

I've never bought into the rationale offered by Bush and Gang to wage their war in Iraq. But the same people who are offended by federal funding for stem cell research don't seem to care about the 'federal funding', so to speak, of Halliburton and its subsidiary, KBR.

oh brother

blah blah haliboiton, blah blah blah bush blah blah, bush, blah blah blah millions, quality of life will always suck

Pity the poor frozen zygote juggled by the Left and Right for ulterior motives.

This issue is being used to assist an increase in the use of embryonic stem cells, and not for "research," but rather to justify gathering them from US governement supported medical facilities: Abortion clinics, or private clinics which would be FORCED to sell them for "research" puposes.

Indeed, the argument that many of these stem cell sources are genetically variant, due to their age(s,) is specious, and since such genetic deviation would impact "research," as well as the viability of any scion produced from the embryo.

If "research" is truly the motive behind this issue, then attempts to increase the availability of viable embryos should be AVOIDED, and not included to justify continued government support of abortion(s.)

I think it would be hard to find a religion that would draw an arbitrary line defining the point beyond which a conglomeration of cells is a person, unless it be the moment of conception.

If I consider the problem as a religious question, any other position seems as fruitless as debating when those cells are imbued with Spirit.

"If I consider the problem as a religious question, any other position seems as fruitless as debating when those cells are imbued with Spirit."

The "question" is manipulated into being religious because the effort is not to study stem cells, which is done now without any significant lack of cells, but rather to allow them to be "bought" from various facilities which may gather them.

Of course, in the future, that would include abortion clinics and which would be USED to justify abortion(s) and support for those clinics to continue, even increase their "business."

In future, when cloning becomes practical, the argument will shift from "conception," or arguments about "trimester," and will evolve towards "consciousness" as the criteria. The same faction calling for increased stem cell availability will have shifted their attentions (a joke) onto the question of "consciousness."

It will be okay to have unconscious slave clones for their "research," then ...

If the possession of consciousness ever becomes the legal criterion for delineating personhood, it will raise some interesting philosophical questions beyond the definition of human consciousness.

There is growing scientific evidence for the possession of cognition by animals. As the zoologist Donald R. Griffin said "... it is more and more difficult to believe that the cognition is not accompanied by conscious thought." Would members of PETA, for example, support abortion clinics for mammals, and the likely consequent harvesting of mammalian stem cells at these same clinics, if they came to exist?

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