A Bust, A Boon Or A Bane?

October 30, 2008 09:00 AM

bane: a source of harm or ruin

Several years ago, when American Life League first became involved in opposing the use of fetal tissue for research, a few then-obscure names from the world of scientific research surfaced. Among them was the now well-known Ronald Bailey. For those unfamiliar with him, it would be helpful to give you a bit of background.

The Family Research Council wrote of Bailey, 


In defending research involving the destruction of human embryos, Ronald Bailey, a science writer for Reason magazine, has developed the analogy between embryos and somatic cells in light of the possibility of human cloning. Bailey claims that every cell in the human body has as much potential for development as any human embryo. Embryos therefore have no greater dignity or higher moral status than ordinary somatic cells. Bailey observes that each cell in the human body possesses the entire DNA code; each has become specialized (as muscle, skin, etc.) by most of that code being turned off. In cloning, those portions of the code previously de-activated are re-activated. So, Bailey says, quoting Australian bioethicist Julian Savulescu: "If all our cells could be persons, then we cannot appeal to the fact that an embryo could be a person to justify the special treatment we give it." Since plainly we are not prepared to regard all of our cells as human beings, we shouldn't regard embryos as human beings.


Patrick Lee and Robert George focused on Bailey in their 2003 article “There he goes again” by quoting one of his more controversial statements: "An embryonic cell is no more a complete human being requiring legal protection than any other body cell." In that article, Lee and George wrote of his activities as science editor for Reason magazine and explained to their readers that Bailey was
 

zealously searching for an angle from which to declare that the developing human embryo is something other than what the science of embryology decisively reveals it to be: viz., a whole living member of the species homo sapiens — a human being — in the early stages of its natural development.


As can plainly be seen, Bailey has never been one to shy away from the public eye simply because his position on a human being's personhood leaves much to be desired, and is, on its face, absurd. So when I discovered that Bailey had written about the ongoing adult stem cell research, I wasn’t surprised to learn that he panned such research, claiming that the only value in engaging in it is to make sure that science is simultaneously pursuing all manner of stem cell research, including the ongoing human embryonic type because, he opined, 


It may well turn out that adult stem cells are good treatments for certain diseases, and embryonic stem cells are better at curing other maladies. Contrary to the claims of bioconservatives, it has never been either adult stem cells or embryonic ones; for the sake of millions of suffering patients, it's both.


Note his use of the heretofore nonexistent word “bioconservative,” which I presume includes people like yours truly, Patrick Lee, Professor Robert George and anyone else who finds it distasteful, not to mention evil, to kill embryonic children for the sake of their stem cells.

Following in Bailey’s footsteps and gleeful at her intellectually dishonest discovery, Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm is the most recent public figure to join Bailey, though she has carried her position on the use of embryonic stem cells to a new plateau by telling the people of her state that support for human embryonic stem cell research is pro-life. Yes, that’s right. As a Catholic politician who has embraced the culture of death on many occasions, Granholm announced,  "As a Catholic, I can say to be pro-cure is to be pro-life."

Granholm made this statement in the context of her public support for Michigan's ballot Proposal 2, which if passed by Michigan’s voters, would provide support for research involving the destruction of human embryos. 

Michigan’s Catholic bishops have addressed this measure on numerous occasions, pointing out that support for the measure is in direct opposition to the Catholic position that the direct killing of a human embryo for any reason is wrong.

So after Granholm’s ridiculous declaration, in a response on the diocesan web site,  Bishop Earl Boyea, of the Lansing diocese, said that Granholm's claim that Proposal 2 is in accordance with Catholic principles "shocking. Nothing could be further from the truth." Bishop Boyea explained that "the Church also teaches that is it is always immoral to destroy a human embryo" and that "A well-formed Catholic conscience would never lead a person to support Proposal 2 'as a Catholic.'"
Furthermore, Bishop Boyea told his flock,


Proposal 2, which goes before Michigan voters in a week, would give an unrestricted license to those who perform destructive experiments on human embryos. While the Catholic Church strongly supports legitimate forms of stem cell research and all other proper forms of scientific inquiry, the Church also teaches that it is always immoral to destroy a human embryo. For that reason, the Catholic Bishops of Michigan have taken a strong position in opposition to this well-funded assault on human life.
Saint Paul reminds us that we must preach the Truth in season and out of season. The Truth will never go unspoken.To be in favor of Proposal 2 is not to be pro-life.


We are indeed grateful to Bishop Boyea for his strong reprimand of the governor, but at the same time concerned that far too many Catholics, not to mention members of the electorate at large, have never thought about the outcome of human embryonic stem cell research nor realized that, in order to pursue such research, human beings must be killed. It is the arguments of professional hacks for the culture of death, such as Ronald Bailey and Governor Granholm that make the nightly news. Such people want the public to believe that adult stem cell research is a bust and that killing human embryos in order to cultivate their stem cells is a boon to medical science. The truth, on the other hand, is quite the opposite and a bane to their philosophy, their pocketbooks and their hysterics.
 

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