The "Big" Lie
Robert P. George in the National Review Online writes about the Big Lie
that John Kerry told in the second presidential debate:
Every reporter covering the election should, after the second presidential debate in St. Louis, be demanding of Kerry an answer to the following question: Who are the scientists who told you that "we have the option" of curing Parkinson's, diabetes, spinal-cord injuries, or any other disease using embryonic stem cells? If they won't ask him, the Bush campaign should defy him to name the names. He won't be able to do it. No scientists ? even those most pro-Kerry and aggressively in favor of the federal funding of embryo-destructive research ? ever told Kerry any such thing.
What Kerry has done here is told the big lie about embryonic stem cells. The claim that "we have the option" of curing Parkinson's disease, diabetes, etc. with embryonic stem cells is outrageous. No one knows when ? or even whether or not ? human embryonic stem cells will be therapeutically useful in treating any major disease or injury. There are profound ? perhaps insuperable ? problems with the therapeutic use of these cells. So, despite the fact that there is no federal ban on embryonic-stem-cell research, and that such research can be funded with state money and is being publicly funded in various places abroad, no embryonic-stem-cell-based therapy is even in clinical trials.
Mr. George is referring to John Kerry's answer to a question posed by a woman in the audience. "Thousands of people have already been cured or treated by the use of adult stem cells or umbilical-cord stem cells. However, no one has been cured by using embryonic stem cells. Wouldn't it be wise to use stem cells obtained without the destruction of an embryo?"
Now on the face of it, this seems to be a reasonable question; one technique has proven promising and actually works
, while the other has no proven
benefit. However, let's flesh
out the real meaning behind the question. This woman (and every one who opposes embryonic stem cell research) is not saying that she knows
embryonic stem cell research is a dead end; if that were the case, she would be entirely justified. What she and the religious zealots are saying is, "Should we not investigate or pursue this line of inquiry, because it destroys an embryo?"
Now the only rational rejoinder to this question is, what's wrong with destroying an embryo? And thus we arrive at the crux of the issue. These people believe, on faith (which means without any evidence and indeed regardless of any evidence to the contrary), that an embryo is essentially the same thing as you or I, because it possesses a soul
. So here is there argument, stated honestly
: We shouldn't do embryonic stem cell research because we believe that destroying a small clump of tissue is no different than murdering a human being. We have no argument as to why this is true - God said it, and we choose to believe it. Therefore we shouldn't do embryonic stem cell research.
Now, whether or not embryonic stem cell research is viable
is a scientific question that I can't answer. But morally, any avenue of scientific research that is open to improving the life of human beings
that doesn't violate the rights of other human beings
is completely moral and should not be stopped. This means testing on animals and even embryos and fetuses if appropriate. It is irrational and immoral to oppose any increase in knowledge because of a dogma, religious or otherwise. To do so when considering something that could possible improve human life is all the more irrational, and unwarranted. Every private
effort should be allowed to pursue this field, and to capitalize on it in the event that it is practical. It would be wonderful if we could have an embryo "farm" that would produce remedies for all kinds of debilitating diseases that ruin so many people's lives. Maybe embryonic stem cells won't yield any practical developments, but to write it off before it's attempted is completely foolish and dangerous. This is the true face of religion, which outlawed herisies in the early days of the church, tortured and imprisoned Galileo, and burned Giordano Bruno at the stake for refusing to submit.
As to the issue of public money, I agree with the zealots, but for different reasons. Public money should not fund any
type of research, religious, scientific or whatever. The zealots (with a few exceptions) have no problem with public funding of religious initiatives, which is just as immoral and unjustified.
POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 6:01 AM