Ken Connor

Scientists working in embryology have long clamored for the complete freedom to create, manipulate and destroy embryos as they see fit. On top of this clamor, they demand a blank check from the government in pursuit of this research and are indignant at any restrictions. The British government recently considered a ban on the creation of cybrids, but quickly "retreated after a revolt by scientists."

The scientists hold out the promise of "cures" for diseases and disabilities in order to circumvent ethical concerns. These supposed future cures are the carrots with which the scientific community is manipulating the politicians.

Sadly, the truth about these ghoulish practices is usually buried under complex scientific verbiage and ambiguous promises. Professor Neil Scolding of Bristol University, a Catholic researcher into stem cells, stated that the practical prospect of human and animal DNA working in harmony and producing a useful organism is "a big ask".

Professor Scolding also refers to the new, more successful developments in adult stem cell research as an approach which could hold great cures while also avoiding the ethical problems of "cybrids" and embryonic stem cell research. He comments that these promising adult stem cell developments make it "all the more inexplicable why a small minority of UK stem cell scientists wants to pursue the extraordinarily complex and frankly speculative hybrid approach."

Unfortunately, the British Commons has completely acquiesced to the limitless pursuit of embryological science. Instead of seeking to ban this practice, they have proposed a "Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill" which would give an official stamp of approval on the manufacture of cybrids.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, responded effectively to the idea that morality and restraint should be sacrificed on the altar of "cures". He said, "It is worth remembering that France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Australia have all banned the grotesque procedures we seek to legalise. Could it be that the citizens and politicians of those countries care nothing for the chronically ill among them? Perhaps they don't want to develop cures for therapies; perhaps they are simply anti-scientific luddites! Or could it be that we are wrong and these democracies see no reason to attack the sanctity and dignity of human life when many alternatives exist?"

The Cardinal is right to sound the alarm. Human dignity will be lost completely if mankind does not act to create ethical boundaries for scientific investigation. Respect for human life must be the pole star that guides science and technology. The foundation of human dignity is that human beings are created in the image of God. If we lose sight of that fact, all humanity will suffer and radical science will become one of the chief instruments that produces that suffering.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.