Recently, President Bush vetoed a bill that would have lifted the current restriction on embryonic stem cell research. It was the first veto of his 5 ½ years as President. Only our founding father Thomas Jefferson waited longer during his presidency. The fact that he waited this long and vetoed this bill speaks volumes. Following the veto President Bush said, "In this new era, our challenge is to harness the power of science to ease human suffering without sanctioning the practices that violate the dignity of human life." Many wholeheartedly agree. Ethicists chafe at the notion of destroying human embryos in order to harvest stem cells. They rightly point out that human embryos have a unique genetic code. Therefore, they regard embryos as living human beings, rather than a random collection of cells. By this way of thinking, the purposeful destruction of human embryos is no different from, say, abortion or murder. Thus, killing an embryo goes against our higher moral self. No amount of proposed “benefit” to a society or a medical community can justify the killing of a human for spare parts. The end does not justify the means. It is never ethical—in fact, its morally reprehensible—to mark people for death in order to conduct utilitarian experiments on their body parts.
“Stem cells have been called regenerative medicine,” proclaimed biologist Michael West on CNN's “Late Edition.” “The idea is to be able to give replacement cells and tissues to people, like the way we repair a car when it's broken," That's very clinical of West. I would, however, suggest that there are some things in this life that we ought not to be so clinical about, some things that cannot simply be reduced to right angles, such as poking and prodding at the raw material of life. Consider: With our new found genius, where we convince ourselves that we can create life in a lab, man takes his rightful place seeing himself higher than God Almighty. Just one thing: We're not God! Plainly, exerting our will over the very creation of human life propels science well beyond our ability to reason, ethically and morally. Human egotism and narcissism, or the desire to exert our will over every aspect of our surroundings, rushes into this moral vacuum. We cannot allow such egotism to obscure the moral consequences of destroying human embryos. Scientific advancement alone is no justification for the destruction of human life. Murder is murder whether it occurs in a science lab or on the street.
If President Bush had signed this bill into law, who knows where the line would have been drawn in the unforeseeable future. Using federal dollars to fund such research would only lead to demands that more ethical boundaries be crossed.
All this debating is useless. Let me clue you in on a little known secret. The embryos people are debating so hard to utilize won’t help science very much, if at all. Getting consent to use the leftover embryos is a long and difficult process, and the vast majority of couples who produce them do not want their leftover embryos used for science. Research methods dictate that the scientists would need to control the genetic makeup of the stem cells which is (as they tell us) essential for building useful models of disease and developing rejection-proof therapies. However, the “spare” embryos already have a genetic makeup, thus proving ineffectual to scientists.
As one of many that support the president’s veto, the federal government should not be a party to the destruction of infantile life. As Paul Ramsey once said, “the moral history of mankind is more important that it’s medical history.”