Monday, January 28, 2008

An Entirely New Kind of Social Evil

Last night, in George W. Bush's final State of the Union Address, the President addressed a matter that has been a moral concern for him throughout his presidency: the sanctity of human life, even in its earliest stages and most vulnerable conditions. The only veto he cast in his first term pertained to stem cell research, destroying the lives of some in order to enhance and extend the lives of others. Last night, the President noted recent breakthroughs in stem cell research that will allow us to extend the benefits of scientific research without taking innocent life. So he called on Congress to empower our medical researchers "to discover new treatments while respecting moral boundaries."

On matters of life and science, we must trust in the innovative spirit of medical researchers and empower them to discover new treatments while respecting moral boundaries. In November, we witnessed a landmark achievement when scientists discovered a way to reprogram adult skin cells to act like embryonic stem cells. This breakthrough has the potential to move us beyond the divisive debates of the past by extending the frontiers of medicine without the destruction of human life. So we're expanding funding for this type of ethical medical research. And as we explore promising avenues of research, we must also ensure that all life is treated with the dignity it deserves. And so I call on Congress to pass legislation that bans unethical practices such as the buying, selling, patenting, or cloning of human life.


In November of 2001, President Bush established The President's Council on Bioethics. One of the eighteen members he appointed is Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. WORLD magazine recently interviewed Robert George and Chris Tollefsen ("Little But Alive," Jan. 26/Feb. 2, 2008; also this interview) about heir recent book, Embryo: A Defense of Human Life. They argue that we have turned a terrible corner in the barbarous devaluation of our humanity in our ongoing press to conquer fortune.

Here is the worst case scenario: the creation of millions of human embryos--human beings in the early stages of development--in order to perform scientific experiments on them, and in order to harvest their body parts for medical therapies for others. We have, sadly, seen the destruction of millions of human beings before, in a litany of tragedies of the 20th century. But we have never seen the creation of human beings precisely for the purpose of destruction and use. (WORLD: And we'd all be inextricably linked to that.) The research would be funded with our tax dollars. It would be performed in our public universities. The therapies would be used by doctors for all of us in any number of circumstances. All of modern medicine would be touched by the influence of research that was deeply immoral and corrupting, and it would be nearly impossible for us to avoid being benefited by, or contributing to, this research in some way. So the creation of a massive industry for producing human embryos by cloning for research in which they are killed really does seem to us an entirely new kind of social evil, on a scale of almost unimaginable magnitude.

1 comment:

Dilawar Khan said...

On a related note, you might check out "The Snowflake Program." Where the thousands of leftover embryos from IVF pregnancies are now being put up for adoption rather than being destroyed. The adoption of unborn humans... such a strange day.