Chris at Lutheran Zephyr and Father Jake were among the 1000 or so people to blog about stem cell research today. With company like that, how can I not chime in?
I haven't done my homework on this. Everything I'm about to say could show my vast ignorance. But why have a blog if you're not going to spout off recklessly about whatever's on your mind?
This is a sticky subject, and I'm more than a little alarmed by the fact that it's a place where I find myself in agreement with President Bush. I think embryonic stem cell research is crossing a line that shouldn't be crossed.
It's a step toward the commoditization of human life. And I'm not just talking about a slippery slope here, I'm talking about deliberately descending a staircase. This sort of research, if successful, will create a market for human embryos.
What's being suggested right now involves a relatively small number of researchers taking embryos that, in theory, were going to be discarded anyway. I'm a little uncomfortable with that, but it's not horrific. But let's assume that their research discovers that any number of conditions can be helped using these stem cells. Now we have doctors all over the country wanting embryonic stem cells. What happens when the demand exceeds the number of embryos that were going to be discarded anyway? Isn't it clear? We start manufacturing embryos.
The other problem with these embryos that were going to be discarded anyway is that they are not a necessary condition for the good of helping couples with fertility problems to have children. They are a side-effect of the imprecision of the science involved in helping these couples. As that process improves, we have less and less of these "disposable" embryos. What then?
I have great compassion for the people who are suffering and hope for the help that stem cell research could provide. I really don't want to tell them that they have to suffer because of my ethics. Honestly, my preference would be to hide from them, because I think there have to be limits to what we will do, as painful as that is to tell someone.
The research involved may claim to stand above the "culture of death" rhetoric, because it seeks to preserve life, but there's something not quite right in the American hope of medical advance. I can't help but feel that our obsession with prolonging life at any cost is an expression of fear and a result of our collective loss of faith.
When we use scientific advances to create embryos to bring a child into the world it is an expression of hope. When we use scientific advances to fight back death, it can possibly be an expression of hope, but it can also be an expression of fear.
Didn't Chancellor Palpatine tell Anakin Skywalker he should support stem cell research?