In reading one of the online news sites this last week, a headline caught my eye; “Court upholds federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.” I then flashed on an anonymous comment posted to a news site immediately after Barack Obama became President. At the time, it stopped me in my tracks.
The subject was President Obama’s lifting of the federal ban against funding for embryonic stem cell research. The comment was as follows. “It’s like we are emerging from the dark ages (Bush administration) into a new era of enlightenment. With increased funding, now we can really begin to research the benefits of stem cells and hopefully make significant strides in medicine. The only unfortunate outcome is that now we are going to have to listen to the crybaby right-to-lifers and how this destroys human embryos. Yes it does, but they will appreciate the outcome when these procedures save their lives.”
I found the comment dispiriting especially if it still represents a consensus opinion.
Again. A new era of enlightenment? Crybaby right-to-lifers? Yes, it destroys human embryos?
Using the resources of Priests For Life, I think it might be useful to quote some experts on this matter.
“To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion . . . it is plain experimental evidence” (Dr. Jerome Lejeune, “Father of Modern Genetics” and discoverer of the cause of Down’s Syndrome. Testimony to Senate Subcommittee on Separation of Powers, April 23, 1981).
“By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception” (Dr. Hymie Gordon, Chairman, Department of Genetics at Mayo Clinic, Testimony to Senate Subcommittee on Separation of Powers, April 23, 1981).
The widely used medical textbook The Developing Human, Clinically Oriented Embryology, 6th Edition, Moore, Persaud, Saunders, 1998, states at page 2 that “The intricate processes by which a baby develops from a single cell are miraculous…. This cell [the zygote] results from the union of an oocyte [egg] and sperm. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being….” At page 18 this theme is repeated: “Human development begins at fertilization [emphasis in original]….”
So the cultural debate is not about life but the value of that life––calling the embryo a “potential human being” is a ruse, it’s a “human being with potential.” At its essence, the only real difference between me and an embryonic cell is that I’m older. We both are unique and should be accorded dignity.
A number of books attempting to establish the complicity or not of the German people in the Holocaust have been written. The masterminds of the final solution and other barbarity could not have killed six million people without organization, chains of command, logistics, operations and people, plenty of people.
To be sure, they marshaled another essential element as well. The murdered victims, Jews and other undesirables, were considered less than human by many of the executioners but no doubt, many of the killers fully recognized that they were destroying human lives. Morality and reason were easily pushed aside by evil.
To those people who naively think that Germany is the poster child with respect to man’s inhumanity to man, I respectfully disagree. Notwithstanding the murderous exploits of Mao and Stalin who make Hitler look like a bungler, we are in the midst of our own American holocaust because morality and reason are again scarce commodities.
You see, I can rip the head off an unborn child, suffocate a newborn baby, put a bullet in the brain of a one-year old, hang a ten-year old or step on an embryonic cell (I could list 50 methods but my point is obvious) and in all cases, the “crime” is the same. A human life is extinguished.
In the confusing reports of the media, many people don’t realize that there are embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells, umbilical cord stem cells and amniotic stem cells. Concerning non-embryonic stem cell research, these efforts are greatly applauded because the greatest advances in stem cell research have come from this area, in particular, adult stem cell research. Granted, embryonic stem cell research has lagged behind the others due to lack of government funding, but, and I’m not trying to be callous, so what.
The good or benefits that could potentially result are immaterial. The exercise of evil for the outcome of good should never be acceptable.
Embryonic stem cell research is a tricky subject. Is my perspective too harsh?