Kirsten's Fan Club
The public debate surrounding embryonic stem cell research
reached critical mass this week as activists on both sides of
the issue swarmed Washington to plead their cases before
Congress. At stake is millions of dollars in federal funding of
the research that ultimately destroys tiny human beings, but
might be the key to curing several deadly diseases.
As the debate unfolds, the public has been treated to a rare
glimpse of some of the ethical and moral decision-making that
occurs behind the doors of America's cutting-edge laboratories.
What we are finding out is that scientists live their lives --
and change ours -- according to a completely separate moral code
than the rest of us. Their obligation is to the research --
exploring every path that can be taken, regardless of the cost.
Whether the road leads to failure or even death is
inconsequential. The quest is really for knowledge, with
achievement being secondary. That said, it is easy to see why
scientists are single-mindedly pursuing taxpayer support of
their latest endeavor, embryonic stem cell research. To the
scientists, the research is simply a new frontier that must be
The worldwide implications of what information we already
have about stem cells are tremendous. These 'building blocks of
life' can be prodded and manipulated to renew all kinds of human
cells, such as heart, brain, and skin tissue. The researchers
are promising almost magical cures to some of the world's most
dreaded diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and
some types of cancer if they are able to continue their study.
So what is all the controversy about? Stem cells cannot be
harvested from human embryos without totally destroying the
embryo itself. An embryo, for those unfamiliar with the term, is
a human being at the earliest stage of life. An embryo is not an
egg, and it is not a 'clump of cells.' It is the product of the
union between egg and sperm, otherwise known as 'conception.' An
embryo is a baby.
This sacrifice of human life in the name of medicine has
rightfully offended many, but there are some who attempt to
justify the cost. These supporters of embryonic stem cell
research have subjected the public to a maddening display of
selfishness in past weeks, culminating with a disgusting and
exploitative parade of very young 'supporters.' For the past
three days, parents of adorable children afflicted with horrible
diseases have pushed these little ones (some as young as eight)
in front of the news cameras to beg for the cures that they say
can only come from embryonic stem cell research.
eloquence on the issue is alarming, as is their adherence to the
party line. These mere babes are far too young to understand the
moral question involved in this debate; they only know what
their well-meaning-but-selfish parents have told them. To put
these kids on camera in all their innocent and disarming
splendor to parrot their parents' ideas is reprehensible. They
are far too young for such responsibility, as they cannot handle
the consequences of their words.
What will happen when a member
of the very vocal opposition tells an eight-year-old point blank
that he is a cold-blooded murderer because of his beliefs? No
young child should be forced to publicly defend a value system
that he doesn't yet understand.
Congress is currently debating legislation that would permit
federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, but the veto
pen and the final decision rest with President Bush. The general
consensus seems to be that the President is 'damned if he does
and damned if he doesn't' permit federal funding of the
research, but the man campaigned and was elected on a platform
that included opposition to federal funding of any procedure
that destroys human life -- including embryonic stem cell
research. Breaking his promise now will be very politically
destructive, as it will anger his base without gaining him any
new ground with more liberal voters.
President Bush must keep his commitment to his smallest
constituents, those without a voice or a vote. He ought to
follow the example of Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), who has been very
outspoken in his opposition to embryonic stem cell research and
has introduced legislation in the House to require that stem
cells used in research only be obtained from life-friendly
sources such as umbilical cord blood and adult humans (who are
not killed during this procedure).
Representative Smith is truly
serving the interests of all of his constituents, even the ones
who have no political value to him. Embryos cannot speak, vote,
or give money to Smith's re-election campaign, but Smith
tirelessly fights for their rights because it is the moral thing
to do. President Bush would be wise to do the same.
See also: C'mon, Bork wasn't
Kirsten's Fan Club
The Case for Marriage: Why
Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off
by Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher
Scan your PC for viruses now!
Magazine of the Month
Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution
by Paula Kamen
DVD's Under $10 at buy.com!
M.D.: How Political Correctness Is Corrupting Medicine
by Sally, M.D. Satel
Sale (30 to 50% off)
Shop for Your Princess at DisneyStore.com
the Web for:
Free Online Games