Concerning President Bush's statement that federal funding of embryonic stem cell research would "take us across a critical ethical line," the Times says:
Never mind that this particular ethical line looms large only for a narrow segment of the population. It is not deemed all that critical by most Americans or by most religious perspectives. Rather, the president's intransigence provided powerful proof of the dangers of letting one group's religious viewsApparently, the Times would have us play ethics by the numbers. Right and wrong are determined by straw poll. We don't have to turn far back in our history books to find proof of where that kind of thinking leads, do we? Beyond that, the Times is being disingenuous in suggesting that the only reason for concluding that human embryos are individual human beings is religious. Prior to the politicization of the issue with Roe v. Wade in 1973, numerous textbooks on embryology and reproduction pointed to conception as the beginning of an individual's life as evidenced by the following quotes appearing in Frank Beckwith's Politically Correct Death:
dictate national policy.
[A]ll organisms, however large and complex they may be when fullgrown, begin life as but a single cell. This is true of the human being, for instance, who begins life as a fertilized ovum. (Dr. M. Krieger, The Human Reproductive System, 88 )The Times editorial goes on to say:
The formation, maturation and meeting of a male and female sex cell are all preliminary to their actual union into a combined cell, or zygote, which definitely marks the beginning of a new individual (Dr. B. Patten, Human Embryology 43 [3d ed., 1968])
The president's policy is based on the belief that all embryos, even the days-old, microscopic form used to derive stem cells in a laboratory dish, should be treated as emerging human life and protected from harm. This seems an extreme way to view tiny laboratory entities that are no larger than the periodThe conviction that embryonic life should be protected is only "extreme" if one begins with the premise that the value of any particular human life is proportionate to its size. But that's sheer nonsense. Our obligation to protect another human being from harm does not increase with his or her size or maturation. If anything, the reverse is true. The more vulnerable a person is to being oppressed and mistreated by those more powerful, the greater our responsibility to protect him or her.
at the end of this sentence and are routinely flushed from the body by Mother Nature when created naturally.
To argue from the fact of spontaneous abortions (the natural expulsion of zygotes from the womb) to the conclusion that the intentional destruction of embryos is therefore moral, is to commit what's called the naturalistic fallacy. Many of the degenerative diseases that proponents of embryonic stem cell research are hoping to cure occur naturally but I don't think the Times would therefore conclude that it would be moral to afflict individuals with those diseases if we had the ability to do so. What's the difference?
The editorial proceeds to advance its discriminatory agenda when it says:
These blastocysts, as they are called, bear none of the attributes we associate with humanity and, sitting outside the womb, have no chance of developing into babies. Some people consider them clumps of cells no different than other biological research materials. Others would grant them special respect but still make them available for worthy research. But Mr. Bush is imposing his differentHow foolish and/or deceitful can one be? Blastocysts bear all of the attributes associated with humanity at that stage of human development. The issue isn't what some people consider them. The issue is what they actually are. Some people consider members of certain minority groups inferior. Some consider children desirable sexual partners. Some consider the Holocaust a fictitious event. Others even consider it a good event. What do any of those statements tell us about the objects of consideration? Nothing. But they tell us much about those doing the considering.
moral code on both, thereby slowing research that most consider potentially beneficial.