Romney's stand

Chuck Colson

2/28/2005 12:00:00 AM - Chuck Colson

Harvard?s medical research community is outraged that Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has dared to challenge its plans to create human embryos and then turn these tiny human beings into laboratory rats.

Romney spoke out the day after Robert Travaglini, president of the Massachusetts senate, introduced a bill that would allow Massachusetts to engage in both embryonic stem-cell research and so-called ?therapeutic? cloning, funded both by the state and private companies. Travaglini?s bill would also ban ?reproductive cloning,? which is a fancy way of saying that cloned embryos must be killed after their career as lab rats is over.

People who support such deadly?and highly profitable?research frame the debate as one of ?helping sick people,? and Travaglini was no exception. In support of his bill, he trotted out the mother of a little girl who suffered from chronic diabetes. The implication was that anyone who opposed embryonic stem-cell research and cloning was a heartless monster who didn?t care about suffering people. But Governor Romney, whose own wife suffers from multiple sclerosis, was having none of it.

?Respect for human life is a fundamental element of a civilized society,? Romney wrote in a letter to Travaglini. ?Lofty goals do not justify the creation of life for experimentation or destruction. My wife has M.S., and we would love for there to be a cure for her disease and for the diseases of others. But there is an ethical boundary that should not be crossed.? Good for the governor.

Romney is right. The pro-cloners have done their best, not only to frame the issue as one of ?helping the sick,? but also to hide the fact that they want to create thousands of healthy human embryos, experiment on them, and then kill them. Governor Romney called this bluff, as well. ?All the rhetoric has been, ?we are throwing away embryos?surplus embryos?that could be used for stem-cell research, and that makes no sense.? And now, now that I?ve said, ?Okay, I support that,? now [my opponents are saying], ?No, that?s insufficient. How could you possibly limit it to that?? Well, that?s what they?ve been asking for.?

I agree with Romney?and I applaud his courage. At the same time, I?m sorry that he doesn?t entirely support the pro-life agenda. His qualifications stem, I believe, from his Mormon faith. Mormon theology leads Mormons to believe that embryos are not alive until they are implanted on the wall of the uterus?an utterly unscientific view, by the way. Gov. Romney?s approach reminds us that, while Mormons share some beliefs with Christians, they are not Christians; they rely, not on the authority of the Bible alone, but also on Joseph Smith. I respect Mormons, work with them, and consider them co-belligerents in many causes. But we can?t gloss over our fundamental differences.

Nevertheless, Romney?s view is a breath of fresh air coming as it does from the liberal Bay State. The dust-up there is a reminder of the stakes in this debate. We must work and pray that the eyes of Americans would be opened to the reality of embryonic stem-cell research?research that destroys innocent human life.

Harvard notwithstanding, human beings in the embryonic stage are not lab rats. They are humans made in God?s image.


For further reading and information:

Today?s BreakPoint offer: To gain a better understanding of bioethics issues, like cloning, stem-cell research, gene therapy, abortion, and more, read Human Dignity in the Biotech Century: A Christian Vision for Public Policy.

?Mass. Governor Expresses Concerns over Stem Cell Research,? Wall Street Journal, 10 February 2005.

Scot Lehigh, ?Romney?s stem cell power plays,? Boston Globe, 18 February 2005.

Scott S. Greenberger and Frank Phillips, ?Romney draws fire on stem cells,? Boston Globe, 11 February 2005.

Pam Belluck, ?Massachusetts Governor Opposes Stem Cell Work,? New York Times, 10 February 2005. (Reprinted at Freerepublic.com.)

Pam Belluck, ?Massachusetts Democrats Object to Stem Cell Research Ban,? New York Times, 11 February 2005. (Reprinted at Christianaction.org.)

Dean Barnett, ?Mitt Romney vs. the Boys from Boston,? Weekly Standard, 17 February 2005.

Read this ?BreakPoint This Week? conversation with disabilities advocate Joni Eareckson Tada.

Learn more about biotechnology and bioethics at the Council for Biotechnology Policy website.