Another Blow to Pro-Life “Grazie a” President Obama

As most of you know already, the president signed an executive order today allowing taxpayer monies to be used to destroy live human embryos for stem cell research.  President George Bush had signed an order in 2001 essentially prohibiting such funding, so our current president is reversing what was a pro-life accomplishment of eight years.

The chairman of the USCCB’s committee on Pro-Life Activities, Cardinal Justin Rigali, issued a statement calling Presidents Obama’s executive order a “sad victory of politics over science and ethics.” He also said:

“This action is morally wrong because it encourages the destruction of innocent human life, treating vulnerable human beings as mere products to be harvested… ignores the fact that ethically sound means for advancing stem cell science and medical treatments are readily available and in need of increased support……If the government wants to invest in hope for cures and promote ethically sound science, it should use our tax monies for research that everyone, at every stage of human development, can live with.”

I like that last sentence.

I suspect unborn human embryos would also if they could speak for themselves.

I also suspect that this is simply warming us up for even larger invasions by the culture of death in the next four or five years. The pro-life effort will more and more include things like trying to get your 60 or 70 year old parents treatment for cancer or other chronic illnesses (they may be denied because they will be deemed “not worth the investment” of medical resources) or trying to prevent the state from encouraging your elderly relatives to take their own life “for the betterment of the young.”

This past year, we voted with our pocketbooks and not our values and moral convictions. I believe it will bring great shame on us all.

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona, Minnesota.
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5 Responses to Another Blow to Pro-Life “Grazie a” President Obama

  1. Rebecca says:

    I completely agree!

  2. Geoff says:

    I simply do not understand the animosity to this decision. Embryonic stem cell research was not illegal during the Bush administration. Federal funding was removed, but privately funded research continued. The federal funding ban was a tactic to gain votes. Since in-vitro fertilization is legal, millions of excess embryos are created each year. Embryonic stem cell research uses embryos that would normally be thrown out. A policy meant to prevent the destruction of embryos would ban most forms of fertility treatments, abortion, and birth control hormones (large doses of them can prevent implantation).

    To paraphrase a researcher, “If a fertility clinic was on fire and you had a choice between carrying out a baby or a fridge containing 2,000 blastocysts, which would you save?” As much as pro-life people like to equate embryos with human beings, it’s obvious that the life of a single child is worth more than a million tiny non-sentient cell bundles. If a million embryos are destroyed in research that saves a single child’s life, then to me that cost is outweighed by the benefit.

    If you honestly believe that a zygote is the same as a human life, then you should be doing more than voting (R) every couple of years. You should be outraged that politicians compromise on pro-life issues. Removing federal funding certainly wouldn’t go far enough. Not only should you push for all embryonic stem cell research to be banned (with life imprisonment as a possible punishment), you should advocate invading other countries to stop abortion and research overseas. Considering the sheer numbers of “lives” destroyed, there’s definitely a just war argument. The Holocaust is minor in comparison.

    Of course, you don’t honestly believe that life begins at conception. You are simply signaling to your tribe that you are one of them. (Similar to how I say “bless you” after someone sneezes.) Equating zygotes with humans makes less sense than equating acorns with oak trees.

  3. admin says:

    Thanks for your comment, Geoff. There is a lot to respond to in it. Just a few thoughts of mine follow.

    I know human life begins at conception as it is a fact of science. Biologists agree that human life begins at conception. The disagreement seem to be when human life becomes a person, and thus entitled to the legal and moral protections afforded persons in our society.

    I and others I know who are pro-life do more than just vote every couple of years. Many of us are out there working behind the scenes in the political, social, educational and medical institutions of our country to change policy and perhaps more importantly the minds and hearts of people about these issues. Many of us do not vote (R) consistently. I for one, refuse to affiliate with any party, and cast my vote based on many different criteria.

    I have always loved the phrase in Schindler’s List that reportedly comes from the Jewish Talmud (I am not sure if it is the case or not; perhaps someone trained in the Talmud could confirm this for me?), but it goes something like this: “He who saves one life, saves the entire world.” I take that to mean that even a single life has unlimited value. The moral dilemma you suggest above reminds me of this.

    God bless.

  4. Geoff says:

    Destroying an embryo doesn’t stop a heart beat or put an end to brain activity, since neither organ exists yet. In fact, no organs exist, since stem cells are undifferentiated. The cell DNA is human, but that’s where similarities to adults end. A blastocyst is just a ball of about 100 stem cells. There are no neurons (which are necessary for perceiving pain) and no brain (needed for consciousness).

    A lot of animosity toward embryonic stem cell research is due to the conflict between religion and science. Catholicism says the research is wrong, while ethics review boards find no evidence of suffering taking place. Stem cell research creates treatments for illnesses and injuries, so to a scientist it is clearly the right thing to do.

    I’m certain this controversy will evaporate once more stem cell therapies become available. Because of the federal funding ban, so far only one company in the US has gotten to FDA trials. Geron Corp invented a treatment for spinal cord injuries. Given a choice between paralysis and walking, can you honestly say you wouldn’t be tempted? Only the most devout believers would choose the former.

    You also didn’t answer my question from before: Would you save the single baby or the 2,000 blastocysts? Assigning unlimited value to a single life makes for some unusual math. Does that mean saving a single life is morally equivalent to saving 2,000 lives? If so, then killing a single person is morally equivalent to killing 2,000 people. If you chose to save the baby, then you imply that embryos are not equivalent. For your position to be consistent, you must choose the blastocysts.

    Saving one life is certainly not as good as saving 2,000 lives, no matter how poetic the Talmud is. If you ever have to choose between saving a single life or saving 2,000 lives, I certainly hope you save 2,000. If you ever have to choose between saving a child or saving 2,000 blastocysts, I hope you choose the child.

  5. admin says:

    Thanks again, Geoff, for responding.

    I think I understand what you are trying to say. I respectfully disagree with you on a number of things though.

    Some of your argument seems to assume that adults are more human than children, born or unborn. I don’t see it that way. We are human at all stages of our development, from conception to natural death and beyond. The presence or absence of certain body organs do not define whether someone is a person either, in my way of thinking. For example, a person with no arms is still human, or a person with no natural heart (mechanical heart) is still human, etc. If something like that were to happen to me, I certainly hope people would treat me as a human person.

    The moral dilemma you seem to want to push here (save a young child or save embryos) is one of those impossible situations that really, in my mind, is a false argument, for it avoids the question at hand, which I believe is, “When does human life become a person and entitled to moral and legal recognition and protection, given that biology has shown that human life begins at conception?” I know you want an answer to the dilemma though, so here is how I would answer. A young child with whom one has a relationship of whatever length, will have an emotional attachment of some sort to me and I to him/her. This would prompt me to retrieve and save that child, and I would. Does that mean that in doing so, I imply that the embryos are any less human? Not at all. They remain who they are, i.e., human beings. Would I directly do anything to will the death of those embryos or would I not do my level best, if at all possible, to save those embryos also? You bet I would. We do what we can do with what is in front of us. You deal with the individual standing in need before you, one person at a time often.

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