Sen. Brownback Stands Strong Against Stem Cell Research

He came. He spoke. He scored.

Okay, maybe not quite.

But Sen. Sam Brownback (R.-Ky.) pulled off quite the speech Wednesday night at Georgetown Law School.

Discussing "Laws and Ethics in a Brave New World: What Should Government do About Cloning and Stem Cell Research," Brownback was able to hold his own against even his toughest critics (there were a few fiery feminists in the room) and still present his message in a respectful, informative manner.

The senator prefaced his speech by saying: "We and you as a generation have an incredible situation that we should be humbled by right now, and that is we have the chance, and the choice, that we could remake mankind."

Giving a little background, he went on to explain that, as many already know, within agricultural industry genes are being taken from outside various species and put into new species — a better species.

And now, the great debate in America — and the world — is whether that would be the ethical way to treat human genes — more specifically, human embryos.

It’s possible to take the "best" of human genes and produce the "best" humans — supposedly.

But, as Brownback pointed out, who decides what genes are the "best?"

"Part of the reason that I’ve gotten so into this topic is because so much of the bioethics debate that we’re in today is about the lack of treating all human life as sacred and dignified."

The argument many people use is that with people sick and suffering — so why not take a few frozen embryos and find a cure?

Brownback said he doesn’t like that argument.

"The problem with that is that then you have gone to the position that this youngest of humans is no longer really a dignified person," he said. "It is somehow and somewhere a piece of property. Somebody’s got to be able to decide for this human that we’re going to sacrifice it. And, we’re going to use them for the use of somebody else who is superior in strength, or need."

"Look at this — you’ve gone from this being a person to this being a piece of property," Brownback said.

This type of mindset has huge ramifications for society, according to the senator.

Brownback said he wants to find cures but he believes there’s another way to do it — "without sacrificing the dignity of humans…at every stage."

Adult stem cells are an excellent alternative, he said. When multiplied, the cells can repair organs and tissues. Cord blood, from a mother’s umbilical cord, can be used for research and treatment as well.

Scientists like to work with embryonic stem cells because they grow quickly, but at the same time, Brownback cautioned, they produce many cancerous cells, or tumors.

He said with cloning that issue has come up as well, where cloned animals are developing tumors at a much faster rate.

In closing, Brownback said, "It’s a humbling time because we get to pick the future generations.I really pray we’re humble enough and wise enough to make the type of choices that we should for us and future generations. I think it’s critical that we get it right."