Analysis

The obligatory “Amanda Marcotte’s lying about the ALS Challenge” post

Yeah, her again.

Now we’ve done it. Pro-life critics of the ALS Association Ice Bucket Challenge, which tacitly supports embryonic stem-cell research, have drawn the ire of Amanda Marcotte. At Slate, the notorious anti-life zealot accuses pro-life leaders of “hijacking” the issue to “scare their followers off of joining in on the fun,” and prioritizing life “in the cellular form” over real people like “your beloved grandmother who is dying of ALS.”

Under her title is a picture of an embryo, sarcastically captioned, “Forget your grandmother. Here’s a life that really matters.” It’s so clever, Marcotte imagines, that she links similar images throughout without commentary, as if glancing at them self-evidently proves her point. Yes, because nothing demonstrates which side is more intellectually enlightened quite like the knuckle-dragging bigotry of basing human value on outward appearance.

And make no mistake: nothing more sophisticated than bigotry was going on in Marcotte’s head when she wrote this. She lectures that “more human cells—mostly skin cells—probably die when you dump a bucket of ice water over your head than are actually in a four-day-old embryo,” and that therefore concerns “about cellular life” would be better served by “telling people to stop killing their skin cells for those greedy ALS sufferers.”

This is pure biological illiteracy, and considering how long she’s been peddling it, either none of her more educated allies have ever corrected her, or she’s willfully misrepresenting science for her own ends. Does she really not understand the difference between a cell and a genetically whole and distinct organism? And the number of cells comprising a human being doesn’t determine whether he or she is a human being.

Ironically, defending the destruction of embryos for research purposes pits pro-aborts squarely against their own bodily autonomy rationale, which justifies abortion on the grounds that no amount of need entitles a child to his or her mother’s bodily resources. That would also mean no disease can obligate an embryonic human to die in the name of finding a cure. Indeed, what is embryonic stem cell research if not the ultimate forced donation?

She also fails to address the fact that this throws a wrench into one of her favorite themes, that valuing life at conception is just an insincere front from our real agenda of policing women’s sex lives. Pro-life involvement in the ESC debate, which has neither a gender angle nor a sexual component, is a pretty blatant contradiction of her thesis, but it would take a far bigger person than Marcotte to admit it.

Marcotte also argues this is much ado about nothing because most of the ALSA’s research uses adult stem cells, and the only ESC study they’re funding uses an existing line, and therefore not funding any additional embryo destruction:

So anti-choice fanatics are discouraging people from fighting this horrible disease that causes much suffering to patients before they inevitably die because some embryo was used years ago to create a line of cells, none of which could actually develop into a human being. Got it.

Actually, assuming Marcotte bothered to read the LifeSiteNews piece she linked earlier, she already knows the concern is about more than “one exception”—ALS Association Spokesperson Carrie Munk admitted her group “may fund embryonic stem cell research in the future.” (And since when does the pro-life objection have anything to do with whether the stem cells themselves “could actually develop into a human being”?)

Yes, Munk also says that “donors may stipulate that their funds not be invested in this study or any stem cell project,” but it’s hard to imagine that option sufficing for, say, research or treatment using organs the deceased had not intended to donate (especially considering that pro-aborts’ own bodily-autonomy ethic is so absolute it applies even after you’re functionally dead). Upon learning that a group participates in any unethical practices, it’s perfectly reasonable to decide to entrust one’s money elsewhere.

But by far, Marcotte’s most malicious slur is that pro-lifers “are arguing that it’s not ‘pro-life’ to try to save the lives of ALS sufferers” and “discouraging people from fighting this horrible disease.” In fact, two of the articles she links have ALSA critics urging people to instead combat ALS by donating to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute. Other alternatives suggested by pro-lifers include the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center, trials at Mayo Clinic, the Adult Stem Cell Technology Center, LLC, and Team Gleason.

Now, how likely is it that Marcotte sincerely believed pro-lifers weren’t for doing anything to help ALS sufferers when she chose to accuse us of exactly that? That she didn’t read her own chosen sources?

Oh, and she also works in a dig at “Lila Rose—the leader of Live Action who was last seen throwing a fit because sex educators at Planned Parenthood were caught answering direct questions asked by clients.” Considering she apparently doesn’t think how PP answered said questions is worth mentioning, I guess it’s to be expected that she would choose to link such an astoundingly dishonest report on it.

Remember: all of this is from the very same woman who once claimed “conservatives don’t deserve equal time in papers if they’re going to lie” because “facts are a minimum standard.”

As pro-lifers debate the unintended effects of condemning rhetoric on those pro-choicers who could be turned to the light by a gentler touch, Amanda Marcotte yet again demonstrates that there are many who will never be reasoned or sweet-talked out of their hate.

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