It's a life, stupid

Posted: Feb 12, 2002 12:00 AM
I recently placed my hand on my sister's pregnant belly. It swelled with life. There was a jolt in her stomach. This rumbling brought me joy. The root cause of said rumbling? It seemed to me that there was a real, live human being kicking around inside of her. Potential life, I plainly reasoned, could not muster such a powerful wallop. Others would disagree. They would argue that it was merely a cluster of cells bumping and thumping inside of my sister. You see, certain others - of the Democrat, pro-choice, cult of science variety - stand firm on the theory that life comes into existence when a baby exits the womb. Prior to that moment, the baby is merely a matter of "seeds," "raw material," etc. Euphemisms make it easier for scientists, in the name of medical research, to justify dissecting unborn babies. And, of course, that's precisely what they're doing when they poke and slice at embryos to extract stem cells. Sadly, it seems that babies do not receive the benefit of human rights until they leave that warm womb and commit to a cold, dangerous existence in America. With cool pragmatism, the scientific community explains that killing dumb, senseless, unaware babies is a good thing because it can unlock the secrets to curing chronic and genetically transmitted diseases. And, after all, why should a few babies stand in the way of the greater good (not to mention man's manifest march toward scientific enlightenment)? It's a matter of simple cost vs. benefit. There is precedence to this line of reasoning. Nazi doctors, for example, froze prisoners to death in order to learn how to treat hypothermia. During the Tuskegee experiments, the United States government knowingly infected black men with syphilis, so as to study the effects of the disease. Sadly, there are countless examples of how societies have been turned to hell when scientific pragmatism is allowed to take precedence over the sanctity of life. Nowadays, stem-cell scientists aren't nearly so jingoistic as the Nazis were. They do not consciously invoke ideas of a master race. Instead, they use phrases like "cell clusters" or "scientific material" or "seeds" to anesthetize their human experiments. They insist that they're merely poking, prodding and extracting from a few discarded embryos. The distinction being that since embryos aren't sentient, they don't constitute human life and, therefore, it's OK to slice them apart. Does this mean it is OK to conduct medical experiments on the severely retarded? A baby one day out of the womb? An aged person with Alzheimer's? For obvious reasons, the doctors sidestep such questions. But no euphemism can massage the fact that embryos have a unique genetic code. That means they are something far greater than a random collection of cells. They are life! And the destruction of such life - even if it's nonsentient, even if it's confined to an antiseptic lab - is equivalent to murder. Somewhere in the swing from point A to point B, a large segment of American society has lost touch with the fact that life is to be celebrated and cherished. Somehow they have become comfortable with subjecting human life to cool, scientific pragmatism. They've managed to overlook the fact that a basic respect for life is what keeps us huddled together as a civilized society.