Those who would defend human dignity in the face of science's relentless march towards "discovery" are once again under attack. Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) are making headlines for introducing controversial legislation that would ban the American scientific community from developing embryos that contain both human and animal material. Dubbed the Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act of 2009, the bill upholds the unique dignity of the human species and condemns human-animal hybrids as "grossly unethical because they blur the line between human and animal, male and female, parent and child, and one individual and another individual."
One might think that even the most ardent disciples of science would acknowledge the problems (if not the downright creepiness) inherent in blending human and non-human genetic material, but no. Instead, critics are dismissing the grave ethical and moral concerns at stake as paranoid hyperbole and characterizing opposition to human-animal hybrid experimentation as yet another attempt to sabotage scientific progress, and thus, the betterment of mankind.
How could anyone object to the limitless possibility and promise of genetic research? People are suffering, after all—suffering from terrible degenerative diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and diabetes; debilitating spinal cord injuries; lost limbs; birth defects.
Children are diagnosed with leukemia, soldiers are maimed in war, mothers die in childbirth... the list goes on and on.
Indeed, life is fragile and imperfect, and these kinds of tragedies strike every day. It just doesn't seem right; it doesn't seem fair. This sense of powerlessness and indignation in the face of disease and death has inspired man since the beginning of time to harness every tool at his disposal to overcome the ravages of nature. Each generation enjoys the benefits of scientific advances that have reduced and marginalized diseases and afflictions that were once considered death sentences.