Thursday, July 19, 2007

Missouri’s Stem Cell Debate: Truce or Unconditional Surrender?

Former Missouri Senator John Danforth co-chaired the pro-cloning group Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures last year. They were the front organization of Jim and Virginia Stowers who bankrolled over 80% of the $30 million propaganda machine. Mr. Danforth wrote a rather surprising op-ed piece that appeared in Tuesday’s St. Louis Post Dispatch in which he called for a truce in Missouri’s trench wars. You can read it here.

Here is my response, sent today to the Post-Dispatch.

Mr. Danforth’s call for a truce should be rejected by Missouri’s pro-family leaders for several reasons.

First, while I appreciate the tenor of his op-ed piece and his seeming understanding of our position, he does not truly comprehend the pro-life ethic. His proposal requires pro-life Missourians to allow what we believe to be immoral research to proceed. We are to comfort ourselves in that we wouldn’t be paying for it. Yet, our objection is not that we are paying for immoral research. We object that our state legally protects immoral research. Who pays for the destruction of embryonic human life is quite secondary to our anguish that embryonic human life is being destroyed. The “truce” sounds more like bribery. If we turn away and be silent, we won’t have to pay for it. But this we cannot do. Wherever human life is threatened, debased or destroyed, pro-life Missourians will accept no truce.

Second, protecting life is a legitimate government interest. Mr. Danforth’s “truce” is built upon a precept that whether or not embryonic life is human is a matter of religion. It is not. This is a scientific question and science has resoundly and unequivocally thundered that somatic cell nuclear transfer creates a living, human embryo. The cloned embryo must have some category. If it is not human, what is it? Animal? Plant? Mineral? And if the embryonic life is not human, why did the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, which Mr. Danforth co-chaired last year, write into the language of Amendment 2 an explicit prohibition of implantation into a woman’s uterus? Could it be they knew this embryo would continue more advanced human development? This matter is not just for religious persons as Mr. Danforth contends. This issue is for all Missourians who care about protecting the dignity of all humans, even at their tiniest, microscopic stage of development.

Third, the “truce” indicates vulnerability. It is akin to the Nazis offering the Allies a truce just before D-Day. Where was Mr. Danforth’s conciliatory “truce” last year? Amendment 2 was just barely approved by Missourians, even after Mr. Danforth’s coalition spent the largest amount of money in Missouri campaign history. Missouri’s pro-life organizations, with their modest budgets, simply needed more time. Since Amendment 2 has been approved, more Missourians now understand the dangers of human cloning and are poised to change the error of our ways. We continue to better understand that the hope for the cures of the diseases afflicting our family members and friends lies in adult stem cell research, not embryonic stem cell research. Missourians are now ready to stop cloning before it starts.

Mr. Danforth’s tone is a welcomed change from last year. But on this issue of research that destroys human embryos, no truce will ever be accepted.


mainstream said...

Rod, is it immoral to freeze and/or kill embryos for the sake of in vitro fertilization?

If you truly believe that there is no difference between an embryo, a 6 month old fetus, and an 8 year old child, can you tell me that you would support cryogenically freezing a 6 month old fetus or an 8 year old child because, at the time we conceived them we couldn't care for them?

Why don't you advocate the equal level of regulation for IVF and embryonic stem cell research?

Rod said...


Intentionally destroying human embryos for any reason is immoral. This does include in vitro fertilization.

And just to qualify your understanding, I do believe there is a difference between a "6 month old fetus" and "an 8 year old child" just as I believe there is a difference between an 8 year old child and a 22 year old young man.

But that is a developmental difference, not a difference of substance. Humans have worth because of what they are, not because of a property they attain, such as self awareness or mature development.

Most IVF centers preserve frozen human embryos. Most parents choose not to destroy their human embryos. Within the IVF issue there is a movement for embryo adoption. The momentum is towards preserving human life.

Not so with ESCR. The momentum is to clone human embryos for one purpose--destruction. Destroying human embryos for research has many proponents and supporters. For this reason, pro-life adherents must devote their attention to thwarting this tidal wave of onslaught against the dignity of human life.