James Leroy Wilson's blog

Thursday, May 26, 2005

It Isn't Just Christian Nut Jobs

Steve Chapman writes,

Supporters of embryonic stem-cell research say that opposition to such a promising application of science can only be attributed to dogmatic religious faith, and that Bush is pandering to the religious right. But you don't have to be a believer (I am not) to think there is something wrong with destroying human life, however immature, just because doing so may be advantageous for those of us who have already been born.

It is easy to ignore the nature of what are referred to as mere "clumps of cells" or "blastocysts." But all of us are clumps of cells, and all of us were once tiny blastocysts--separate and unique human beings at the earliest stage of life. The research endorsed by the House means ending the lives of some human beings.

Why do we blind ourselves to that irreducible fact? Because we fervently hope to gain something from it--in this case, the chance of longer or better lives for ourselves.

I wrote this four years ago, the last time it was hotly debated (Just A Piece of Property?):

[I]f we treat human life, even an embryo, as a resource to be used and then destroyed, at what point does human life cease to be property?

That's what I find troubling. I am not pro-life, I am pro-freedom. And human freedom means that human life is not to be treated as the property of others. Once we start treating "non-person" human life as a means to utilitarian ends, we are on that "slippery slope." . . . .

The frozen embryo is two things: it is human, being of no other species, and it is living, not dead. It is human life. We can either be utilitarian or pro-freedom. We protect only those who on balance can benefit society, leaving it up to individuals, doctors, or the government to decide who else should live or die. Or, we protect all human life in law.

Any in-between stage at which the law should protect human life is completely arbitrary, and we are a proud race indeed if we presume to know at what point (birth? third trimester? In the womb? 70 IQ?) human life becomes worthy of our protection and not just property for our use.

I have sinced moved away from such absolutism, because I do not believe the State is capable of justly intervening in these issues. But one principle can not be denied: if the State funds stem cell research and destroys embryos, it is treating human life as property. And that must be resisted and overturned at every opportunity.

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