The Supreme Court has never decided on the legal status of the embryo. Roe v. Wade was based on the right of a woman to autonomy over her body. But in these cases, the embryos are not in a woman's body. When did they become mere property? Can parents who have declined to be an embryo's parents be meaningful custodians of its rights and interests? In what sense are they really the would-be baby's next-of-kin?
PROGRESS. The politicization of scientific research works both ways. Pro-lifers try to steer money away from embryo research; abortion rights advocates try to funnel the federal dough toward the research. Neither are disinterestedly serving science. Government funding can distort scientific priorities; bureaucrats with Ph.D.s are not especially good at picking which lines of research are most promising.
FAIRNESS. If government is going to finance cures for disease, is it a good idea to use techniques that large numbers of people with the relevant diseases find morally repugnant? There are many ways to skin a cat. Why not pour the money into equally promising avenues (adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood, stem cells from miscarriages or premature births) that do not threaten to exclude millions of Americans from enjoying the cure?
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.
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