Embryonic stem cell research is once again in the news via Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s revelation that he opposes President Bush on this subject. While some believe that the president erred in permitting any funding for ESCR, Mr. Frist now thinks he hasn’t gone far enough. But for someone who defended the Senate’s right to debate and take action in the Terri Schiavo case, the following sounds strange:
“Answering fundamental questions about human life is seldom easy. For example, to realize the promise of my own field of heart transplantation and at the same time address moral concerns introduced by new science, we had to ask the question: How do we define ‘death’?”
He continues, “So when I remove the human heart from someone who is brain dead, and I place it in the chest of someone whose heart is failing to give them new life, I do so within an ethical construct that honors dignity of life and respect for the individual.”
Senator Frist’s words come perilously close to sounding like a Hollywood stereotype. In using these particular terms it would seem that the good doctor has acquired the God complex so prevalent among those in his profession.
His pro-life claims aside, Dr. Frist is simply echoing the left’s mantra; that when trying to ensure the “quality of life” for some, man has the right to judge that quality in others. In selling this bill of goods in the Schiavo case, the right-to-die faction and their media wing played on the emotions of the American people. Frist tries the same tack:
“If your daughter has diabetes, if your father has Parkinson’s, if your sister has a spinal cord injury, your views will be swayed more powerfully than you can imagine by the hope that cure will be found in those magnificent cells, recently discovered, that today originate only in an embryo.”
Here Frist, who says he believes life begins at conception, is either being disingenuous or just plain lying. Those “magnificent” or pluripotent, cells — ones that have the “plasticity” to become different types of cells — have recently been harvested from human placenta and other adult stem cell sources.
What’s more, the very types of diseases Frist uses to gin up support for ESCR are being fought today with adult cells, while whatever hope ESCR holds is decades away. Over 80 diseases and disorders are currently being treated with adult cells including Hodgkin’s disease, Leukemia, juvenile diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, sickle-cell anemia and cardiac damage.
So, if adult cells can provide equal plasticity to embryonic ones, and right now instead of years hence, what’s all the hubbub about? Because, in a very real way, this debate is a grisly extension of legalized abortion. Whether it’s the fact that some aborted fetuses are actually used for ESCR or that, as some activists feel, it will “soften” people’s attitude toward abortion, ESCR in some ways provides a positive reason for abortion.
Another question is why proponents of ESCR lobby for federal money? No law prohibits its research, so if ESCR holds such promise why aren’t private companies pouring cash into it? The answer is that most private money is already flowing into adult cell research that’s already paying dividends and comes with no ethical strings attached. Add to that the billions of dollars cajoled out of some states for ESCR and the demand for federal bankrolling makes even less sense. Yet the beat goes on.
A backdoor justification for ESCR is that these embryos would be “discarded” anyway, like so many table scraps. This shallow and distasteful argument was exposed when President Bush recently hosted a White House gathering of parents with 21 “Snowflake” Babies; formerly frozen embryos saved through the Nightlight Christian Adoptions agency. So far, 84 families have been enriched by the lives of those who ESCR backers would so cavalierly snuff out.
So back we come to the promoters of America’s culture of death. With most of the media steadfastly at their side, they have been piling up victories for the last 30 years, beginning with Roe v. Wade and culminating in the state-sponsored execution of an innocent Florida woman. All under the banner of protecting “rights” and improving the “quality of life” for those of us lucky enough to survive their tender mercies.
That Bill Frist is an unwitting dupe for this crowd in order to advance his political agenda is unclear. That he leaked his decision to the New York Times before he applied his scalpel to the president’s back is, however, telling.
Whether or not he really believes that you can be both pro-life and in favor of further ESCR funding is known only to himself. But what’s become evident to the rest of us is that he and other pro-life Republicans have now joined the ranks of those who openly believe that the destruction of innocent human life is, for the “right” reason, justified.
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