Special Report

Ron Reagan’s Stem Sell

Junior behaves as if he were still in Hugh Hefner’s orbit.

By 7.13.04

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Always up for an opportunistic stunt, Ron Reagan covered the 1984 Democratic convention in San Francisco for Playboy. His father was quoted in People magazine as saying that he hoped his son could find a "more dignified" line of work than writing for Hugh Hefner. Ronald Reagan's wish for his son remains unrealized. This year Ron Reagan isn't covering the Democratic convention but speaking at it. "This gives me a platform to educate people about stem cell research," he said this week.

The Democrats so hate "wedge issues" they are using Reagan's son as a wedge to undo his father's pro-life legacy. This is pretty low even for a conscienceless cad like Terry McAuliffe. Will Ron Reagan turn his father into a posthumous cheerleader for destroying human embryos in the name of science?

If so, it will require a bald revision of Ronald Reagan's record. The record is clear: Reagan never supported using human embryos as spare parts for scientific research. The proof of this is that during the Carter years, a misnamed government group in Health and Human Services, the Ethics Advisory Board, was trying to advance immoral research on embryos but when Reagan entered office, he didn't let the group meet and the National Institutes for Health on his watch never approved any research on embryos. "For the past 8 years, the Administration has used a bureaucratic Catch-22 to maintain a moratorium on federal funding for research involving human in vitro fertilization," complained Science.

Ron Reagan won't mention this part of Reagan's history in his speech at the Democratic convention. But he will no doubt use his father's afflictions at the end of his life to justify embryonic stem cell research. Never mind that his father would have regarded curing disease off the deaths of unborn humans as dishonorable. Reagan's writings on the subject of abortion make clear that he anticipated the utilitarian argument for embryonic research and rejected it.

Quoting Malcolm Muggeridge, Reagan wrote that unborn human life is a "Divine flame, which no man dare presume to put out, be his motives ever so humane and enlightened." The sophistical argument for embryonic stem cell research is nothing more than that: "humane and enlightened" motives entitle society to use embryos as fodder for research.

The fatuous pretty-people-endorse-stem-cell-research coverage we get daily was also rebutted by Reagan in his writings on abortion: "Obviously, some influential people want to deny that every human life has intrinsic, sacred worth. They insist that a member of the human race must have certain qualities before they accord him or her status as a 'human being'? They want to pick and choose which individuals have value. Some have said that only those individuals with 'consciousness of self' are human beings. One such writer has followed this deadly logic and concluded that 'shocking as it may seem, a newly born infant is not a human being.'"

Ron Reagan is now one of these influential people, picking and choosing which humans have value. In a recent interview with Larry King, Ron Reagan declared human embryos to be nothing more than "collections of cells in a petri dish." He said, "We're not talking about fetuses, human beings being killed."

Yes, we are. When women learn that they have conceived, they do not announce to their friends that they have "collections of cells" on the way. And, by the way, since when has pro-choice atheist Ron Reagan been opposed to unborn fetuses being killed? (Another proof that Ronald Reagan wouldn't have favored embryonic stem cell research is that he supported the Human Life Amendment which would have stated in the Constitution that "the paramount right to life is vested in each human being from the moment of fertilization...")

The Democrats gravitate to the stem cell issue (and hope to use it as their prized wedge issue) because they find it easier to talk about "blastocysts" -- a dehumanizing name that makes it easier for them to talk about human embryos as disposable garbage -- than third-trimester unborn children. But as Ronald Reagan would point out, a party that will justify destroying unborn human beings at 9 days old will justify destroying them at 9 months too. Had Ron Reagan listened more closely to his father's speeches than the Democratic ones he covered for Playboy, he might know that.

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author of No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.