Whether it’s delivered with flashlight pointed skyward below the chin as all are gathered around an open fire, or, as Halloween fades, it comes in the form of the latest horror movie or Charlie Brown TV special, most everyone enjoys a scary story.
For the most part, people like these stories because it enlivens their imagination and thrills their spirit. People also enjoy these stories because they know—no matter how realistic they may appear—they are fantasy, make-believe. In movie making they call it “willing suspension of disbelief.”
I am no different, but there is a story that deeply frightens me because it is true story. This is a scenario worthy of Dr. Frankenstein himself; one that not only defies the mores of science and medicine, but one that evokes nightmarish memories of a brutality and disregard for humanity that forever changed our world.
And what makes it worse is it is not a situation where some random, lone, mad-scientist is masterminding a diabolical threat to humanity or the work of a delusional dictator bent on world domination.
No, sadly, this is an effort that enjoys the support—to one degree or another—of the President of the United States, the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, and many of our country’s leading policy and opinion makers.
I am talking about embryonic stem cell research (ESCR). Before I can go any further, it is important to define the terms and set the parameters of this discussion.
Now I’m not a doctor, but you don’t need to be to understand the difference between success and failure, and between right and wrong. Then again, I’m not an astronaut, but I know that the world is round and spins on an axis. And I also know that I do not need to understand the finer differences between an ovum and a zygote, or between pluripotent and totipotent cells to know that embryonic stem cell research is wrong.
The term “stem cell research” does not accurately define or differentiate what we are about to discuss. If you listen to many in the mainstream media and the political partisans who favor ESCR there is just stem cell research, and you either support it all or you support none of it.
This is the first important fact to understand: there are many sources for stem cell research. Some are morally licit and have proven successful; others are wholly immoral and have not yielded a single positive result or treatment.
Stem cell research can be broken down into two categories: embryonic and non-embryonic, often referred to as adult stem cell research.
As of the writing of this column, scientists have not developed a single successful treatment involving embryonic stem cell research—that’s zero, zilch, nada, none, for those keeping count.
Conversely, research involving non-embryonic stem cells has been used to develop over 65 successful medical protocols that have healed hundreds upon hundreds of people. The sources for non-embryonic stem cells include bone marrow, fat cells, umbilical cord blood, adult blood, olfactory nerve endings and skin cells.
To perform ESCR, stem cells are removed from a living human embryo and that process takes the life of this child. None of the protocols using non-embryonic stem cells harms a single human being and has yielded amazing success.
Despite these compelling facts, George W. Bush opened Pandora’s Box by becoming the first president to grant federal funding of ESCR in 2001. Four short years later, Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.)—a medical doctor who should know better—is publicly backing a bill that would expand the current funding level and allotment of embryonic stem cell lines that can be used.
Proponents of ESCR will speak of the untapped potential, the need for more money and research, and tell us that we just don’t understand the science well enough to know that we should support it.
But these arguments are nothing more than distractions from the real facts that need to be understood in this debate. One only needs to consult your average public school biology book or human embryology college text to weigh this decision properly. According to these books, life begins at the moment of conception—when the sperm fertilizes the egg you have a complete, separate human life with its own individual DNA.
The rest then becomes elementary. If it is a human being, then we have no more right to take the life of that innocent human being than we would that of the average stranger we pass on the street. It doesn’t matter if this so-called scientific research could cure every disease known to man; obtaining knowledge through these means is inherently wrong and intrinsically evil. If this is now acceptable, then what’s next?
Have we become so shortsighted and self-absorbed as a country that we have forgotten the lessons we learned from Nuremberg? As a society, have we become so selfish that we would say yes if scientists told us they could really cure it all, but first they need to perform deadly experiments on every resident of every convalescent home in the country? At the end of the day, there is no difference between this scenario and what goes on in ESCR. Might, convenience, and demand do not make the research right.
Once you understand this, it leads then to the inevitable question: How can a president, a majority leader, a party and a movement who claim to be pro-life support research that requires the taking of innocent life? The objective answer is you cannot.
A wise man once said that principle is doing what is right when no one is looking. In this case, the eyes of the world are upon us and now we must do what is right for our nation, for our posterity and for the good of our own consciences. Call your family, your friends and your pastor and make sure they know why embryonic stem cell research is wrong. And then call your congressmen, your senators and the White House and tell them you do not want another one of your tax dollars spent on the Frankensteinian science of embryonic stem cell research.