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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  March 19, 2012 1:15am-1:30am EDT

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>> long book tour. i usually hit the first two weeks because my publicist makes me get up early. that's the only thing i hate about. but then i yelled smart her by going to california and she's not going to get me at four in the morning and i can stay on the east coast time so it's like i'm sleeping in. >> in two sentences with his demonic about? >> it's about the mob mentality and how it is a part of liberalism beginning with the french revolution, the american revolution and explaining to hundred years of the history of liberalism how they rely on mobs and you see it occupied wall street read it is consistent with what i talk about in the book. >> chris christi has endorsed mitt romney. >> i hang on everything so i guess i am a mitt romney role.
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no, i really am. i think it's going to be mitt romney and i'm going to write about that in my column. i've had it with the upstarts. he's not ronald then a fantastic in the the date, and best of all, he has a demonstrated the ability to track the liberals into voting for him. up next thomas sat down with book tv at georgetown university to talk about his book embryo politics. efiks and policy in a atlantic democracies. this is just over 15 minutes. >> we are watching booktv on c-span2, and every month we visit a different university to talk to professors who are also authors about their looks and now joining us on book tv is thomas banchoff, and he is the author of this book, and brio politics. professor banchoff, what do you
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mean by embryo politics? >> it is said to turn a critical ethical questions about when human life begins and deserves protection and when embryos might be sacrificed in scientific experiments for knowledge. it's something we are familiar with and in the context of the stem cell debates of the last decade, the passionate debates, what i do in the book is go back for decades at the beginning of this controversy, show how it's developed to the point is that today but place it in the broad international context through an examination of france, the u.k. and germany as well. >> why did you choose those and the subtitle refers to the atlantic democracy but why did you choose those nations? >> several reasons. i'm a european by training, political scientist and i've lived in europe for six or seven years, so i know the country's, and of the languages and the culture and it's important to be able to immerse yourself in a
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different culture in crafting a book like this, but i think the main reason has to do with the fact that these are leading scientific powers that have been on the cutting edge of the science, the technology as well as the ethical debates around these issues and it's in these countries the you see in the political systems take up the questions in the most systematic fashion. >> wind the history of embryo politics began? >> from 1968, a year of course that is familiar to us as one of great social unrest but i suspect historians looking back will note it for another reason and that is the first time in human history that a human egg and sperm were united in the laboratory. in 1968 in cambridge in england that is the beginning of a story that began around questions of in vitro fertilization, the story that led to the birth of a first test-tube baby that runs through embrey on next-gen
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salles research that initial breakthrough in 1998 and right up to today. >> who is the father and or mother of in real politics, who began the experiment that led to 1968? >> there is the team based in the u.k. who were first successful and the creation of an embryo in the laboratory and began to transfer to the womb but it was an international race that had been going on for some time including researchers from different countries. the politics really we picked up after it came to the public notice. the committees have looked into it in the 1970's. there were debates in the bureaucracy's on both sides of the atlantic but i think seeing that first child in 1978 which we all remember those of us who are old enough brought this issue to the attention of the public.
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>> the 1978 birth of louise brown. does that compare to the founding of a vaccine for polio, etc. as far as scientific experiments? >> i think so, absolutely. in fact it is a different kind of juncture. it's not another vaccine however important it's the first time in human history that a child is being conceived in a laboratory of side of the womb but it raises all kinds of issues about family life that we've been wrestling with, km, childhood, section of the from and what i focus on in this book is what it means for science and technology and where we want to draw the lines in the past and in the future about the kind of research that we are willing to count with embryos in the laboratory. >> professor banchoff, which you consider embryo politics to be a personal issue, a scientific issue, state issue, religious
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issue? >> i think it is all of those and as a political scientist most interested in the political dimension but what makes the book different from most political science books is the centrality of ethics and fundamental questions about life and death and human suffering that plank back to the personal level that you mentioned and look back to the great philosophical and religious traditions. for example and we are familiar with this from the in riyadh next ten sell de date. how do you balance the status of the embryo of human life at a very early stage against the promise of the regenerative medicine research through embrey on ext. themselves that may help us cure or at least address diseases such as parkinson's and alzheimer's. both of those are the moral imperatives and it's fascinating to see how the different societies with different histories seek to join the moral imperatives of practice and how the government and political parties take them up and pass
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the laws that regulate the activity. >> if you would give as a snapshot of the european approaches to the embryonic politics. >> they are different and that is one of the fascinating things i think i've learned how different and unique our debates are here. for the simple the polarization between the religious conservatives and secular scientists. you don't have that the same degree in europe, so ironically you have a country like to germany where religion plays less of a role in the political sphere than in the night it states or france is perhaps an even more perfect example. countries where religion is less important than politics and yet the politics and regulations that emerged are more conservative and more restrictive. >> how does that happen? >> it has to do with the different historical legacy that shaped the debate on both sides of the atlantic and in the u.s. and some degree the u.k. its
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abortion which represents the frame of reference and that emerged gradually so that the issue of embryo research and stem cell research with embryos gets grafted onto a very polarized abortion debate in this country there for the religious conservatives against scientists. in germany and france the abortion issue was never settled what sort of compromise as early on in the 1970's whereby abortion was recognized as a serious concern, the taking of innocent human life that legislators made the decision not to prosecute women are doctors and that kind of pragmatic compromise took a portion of the table so the issue of embryo stem cell research is framed by different legacies and in germany the most important legacy as eugenics, the human experimentation during the nazi era something that resonates in france as well and
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so there's generally more caution about science and technology than pushing some of the limits americans are willing to push on the scientific side and skeptical on the religious side. >> professor banchoff, do you agree or feel that abortion is relative to the embryonic politics debate? >> i think it is. i mean, the issues i raised up front about when life begins and deserves protection for issues we recognize in the abortion debate but the connection doesn't have to be as strong as it is in this country and in fact it's quite fascinating to see how the catholic church in the first decade after the 1960 breakthrough didn't from the issue of research in the abortion debate. their concern was with the idea of using technology of reproduction, taking such about the outside the married couple and into the laboratory.
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you can't really find much on the catholic side until the 1980's condemning this as the taking of an innocent human life. this kind of research happens is the abortion issue keeps up and the church finally comes out with a position in 1987 on embryo research that is constructed but it wasn't there in the beginning. >> are there pro-life movement in the country's you explore? >> their arcuri the u.k. is as i mentioned before similar to the u.s.. there was a time in the mid-80s and looked like the pro-life movement there might utilize the ban on embryo research and that effort failed and since then they've been on the defense. they don't have the same societal base the pro-life
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movement does here. if the movement in germany and france is much less significant. >> professor banchoff, where have we gotten specifically since 1978 when les brown was born? >> the juncture took place five years later when scientists were able to freeze or cry you preserve embryos. so since then we've dealt with the question of embryos left over from treatments and many of which will not be used by parents hoping to have children, so that a breakthrough of preservation and the of devotee to fall embryos and use them in research created new opportunities for scientists to work within the as and other research programs. the next major breakthrough was the isolation that human embryonic stem cells in 1978, which raises the prospect of a new era of regenerative have medicine and changed the ethical stakes of the debate by bringing
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in the question of healing and hope for people suffering from a degenerative disease so things became much more visible in the political sphere. since then, there's been a breakthrough in what are called potent storm cells which can be created without the use of embryos from body cells that are programmed to act like stem cells so that is a new twist over the last couple of years and some are you let's focus on that area because it doesn't raise the problematic questions and others argue science needs to afford and putting a embryonic stem cell research so that's been in more recent development and then there's more contemporary concerns around issues of the implantation diagnosis, with her in the context of an ips procedure parents can committee and even should look a different
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embryos in the petrie dish with the doctor's backend based on the genetic makeup about which ones to in plant and that raises a whole new set of questions about what are the criteria for making such a selection and where might we be going with that. >> are we at that point you can look at specific embryos and make judgments? >> we are indeed. for 20 years that technology has been there and usually as a rule it's been applied to avoid genetic conditions, genetically based conditions, but this is an iraq that isn't regulated in the united states very effectively where as in the u.k., germany and france it's illegal to select embryos for example on sex. there is an industry here, for to the industry that in some cases about 40% of the cases in
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one survey offers family balancing the families that want to make these kind of selections based on that criteria. we have to see whether science goes or the knowledge of the genome as we find out about conditions not just disease but qualities like height come intelligence, propensity to alcoholism to the extent the of a genetic basis we may be facing interesting debates about what kinds of criteria can be used in this election. >> i realize your studies the atlantic democracies europe and the united states but what about some of the emerging superpower such as china. >> that is a project i'm working on now and it's quite striking how unique the western atlantic experience has been because these are countries in the united states and its major allies that we are leaders in this technology early on that tradition of t


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