Embryonic Stem Cell Research

  Some of America's hottest celebrities have been delivering emotional performances lately, designed to strike a resonant chord with their audience. This time, though, their performances aren't scripted for TV or the movies. Instead, they're pleading with Congress to endorse government-sponsored research involving the use of human embryos. Why would Hollywood actors, more at home in sitcoms, suddenly enter the less glamorous world of congressional hearings? Because fetal tissue research -- especially research on embryonic stem cells -- is being trumpeted as a great scientific breakthrough and a biomedical revolution. This revolution, they say, could lead to cures for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, AIDS, and more. Some of the celebrities, in fact, (like Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's) have been diagnosed with various debilitating diseases. They're campaigning, they say, because they have a stake in seeing taxpayer dollars go for research programs that may alleviate suffering. Well that's all well and good, except that the real problem, of course, is that fetal-tissue research requires scientists to engage in unethical and immoral experimentation. Some may ask how anyone with a heart could oppose such well-meaning research. Well, the answer is that stem-cell research requires the destruction of living human beings. Only human beings produce the precious stem cells that scientists desire. So, to get enough of them for research purposes, babies, even embryos eight weeks old in the womb, must be aborted and must die. Yet researchers, along with the Hollywood celebrities, are only too willing to overlook these troublesome facts for the so-called "greater good of society." That's an argument straight out of Dr. Mengele's Nazi laboratories. From the Hippocratic Oath, of the fourth century, BC, to modern-day documents, medical ethics explicitly prohibit the harming of human life. "First, do no harm" has been the solemn oath of generations of physicians. But advocates of stem-cell research would have us believe it's not a problem. Some go even further, saying that refusing to conduct such experiments is unethical. And what's the basis for their assertion? The possibility that the therapies derived from stem-cell research could potentially alleviate the suffering of millions. But the argument, you see, is logically insupportable. Destroying life in order to save life? That's irrational and wrong. Killing one person to save another person cannot be construed as an ethical act. As one writer put it, this argument is like saying, "[I]f harming you benefits me, it is wrong to prevent me from harming you." But further, government-sanctioned destruction of human embryos isn't just unethical, it violates existing law. Federal funds may not be used for research in which embryos are destroyed. Some have tried to circumvent the law, but if Congress succumbs to the pressure to compromise, they'll be setting dangerous precedents for how human life is valued in the twenty-first century. Fortunately, several members of Congress are fighting for the unborn. And you can help them. Get a hold of your representatives and let them know how you feel. Urge them to stay the course, and make sure federally-funded stem-cell research remains illegal -- regardless what Hollywood superstars may say. ------- Contact information for representatives is available at and for senators at or through the Capital switchboard at 202-224-3121. General information about, and a Christian perspective on, stem cell research, may be accessed at . ------- For further reference: Ber, Jonathan. "Senators Hear Testimony on Stem Cell Harvest Ban." Baltimore Sun. September 15, 2000. Recer, Paul. "Embryonic Stem Cell Research Called Top Breakthrough of 1999." Associated Press. September 16, 1999. Sappington, Jay. "Victimization as Research: Human Embryonic Stem Cell Experimentation." Insight (Family Research Council: Washington, D.C.). October 4, 1999, pp. 3-4. Section 511 (a)(2) of the Labor/HHS Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 1999 (enacted as part of the Fiscal Year 1999 Omnibus Appropriations Act, Public Law 105-277). Weiss, Rick. "Clinton Hails Embryo Cell Test Rules." Washington Post. August 24, 2000, p. A11.


Chuck Colson



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