GET OUT YOUR SKIS! The Stem Cell Slippery Slope Is Here
By Bonnie Chernin Rogoff
Founder, Jews For Life
July 16, 2001
I long for the good old days.
Remember a time, not long ago, when only existing embryos lying around and destined for destruction would be used for controversial stem cell research? Ah, if only we were able return to that bygone era. Say, about four weeks ago.
In the world of human stem cell research, four weeks is a lifetime, and a death sentence.
Last week, scientists at the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Virginia revealed that they have intentionally created and destroyed embryos for research purposes. Women were paid up to $2,000 to donate eggs, from which embryos were created and killed for science. R. Alto Charo, professor of law and ethics at the University of Wisconsin, explained:
“Soliciting eggs and sperm from donors who do not know each other and have no reproductive intent can ensure that there is no regret about using the embryo for research.” 1
This baffles me. If there’s no humanity to speak of in a tiny clump of embryonic cells that are not fully human, why should there ever be any regret?
Not to be out-publicized, Advanced Cell Technology of Worcester, Massachusetts announced they had plans to conduct experiments with the goal of creating cloned human embryos.
Welcome to the last resort, folks. It seems the slippery slope has arrived along with the big chill in our consciences.
However, in the White House, things are heating up. Reports have President Bush “agonizing” and “grappling” over his decision on whether to allow federal funding for stem cell research. Again, wherefore the agony? The embryos are not human beings. Besides, think what all those precious cells could do. Think of all the diseases - Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s Disease and juvenile diabetes – that may be cured. Correct?
Well, maybe not. Two renowned bioethicists met with President Bush to discuss the benefits of embryonic stem cell research. They both told the President to take a slow approach, recommending that federal funds be allocated for research only with adult stem cells, at least for now. One of the scientists, Daniel Callahan of the upstate New York Hastings Center, expressed disappointment with the results on embryo studies:
“Callahan, a Democrat who did not vote for Bush, told the President embryonic stem cell research has been “oversold” in much the same way he believes fetal tissue research was “hyped” as a potential cure for Parkinson’s 10 years ago.” 2
Adult stem cells show as much promise for medical research experiments. So why the obsession over embryos? Is something else going on?
Recent polls indicate public opinion toward unrestricted abortion has shifted, with support dropping substantially. Moreover, the national rate of abortion has declined in recent years. Could the real motive behind embryonic stem cell research be to encourage more abortions and reshape public attitudes, under the pretext of curing disease? I think so.
However, there’s bad news for pro-lifers. We’ve lost the stem cell issue. Creating embryos to destroy for questionable medical use is a done deal. Even Republicans like Sens. Orrin Hatch, Trent Lott and the former Senator Connie Mack (who are all pro-life) have come out strongly in support of this research. Some were touched by illness in their families, and perceive the research is necessary. Perception is everything. That is why, regardless of whether President Bush allows federal funding or not, some future President will.
On a personal level, this writer stands much to gain from the benefits of stem cell research. I suffer from severe scoliosis, a partly rotated ribcage with diminished lung capacity, and epilepsy. Yet, I remain unmoved toward destroying life to help my own. There are, in fact, many alternate sources of stem cells that are equally valuable for research and don’t involve killing anyone: adult cells, cells from living babies, cells from some miscarriages and tubal pregnancies. All are viable avenues of research that are being ignored.
Pro-lifers warned that abortion, even in the earliest stages of pregnancy, would one day create a calloused people that regard no life as sacred. We are no longer cultural virgins. We’ve been raped…not by the liberal madness that’s gripped our nation…but by our own apathy as we relaxed and let the inevitable happen.
It takes a long time to build a human civilization and a very short time to destroy it. We are more sophisticated than the ancient Romans, who indulged their base instincts by throwing people to the lions for sport. Rather, our citizens have fallen prey to a form of intellectual barbarism; they are conscious that our killing culture is horrific, but yawn reflexively, condition themselves and adapt. Despite those polls indicating a pro-life shift, Americans are still convinced that other issues – primarily a strong economy – top the agenda above the right to life. That’ s why the anti-life zealots among us get elected and re-elected, and legislate the next campaign against unborn and partially-born children.
Yesterday it was coat hangers; today we sit idly by while abortionists legally fulfill their serial killer instincts. Yesterday, it was choice; today, we are trafficking human baby body parts for profit. Yesterday, it was a solution to poverty; today, there is a professor at Princeton University who promotes killing babies after they are born. Yesterday, it was population control; today, we do not replace our aging population enough.
Under those circumstances, does anyone really believe that creating embryos and then destroying them for research will be banned, especially if the procedure is being hailed as the answer for preventing disease? Does anyone think aging baby boomers care a hoot about morality, ethics, or the lack thereof? Paul McCartney once wrote, “I believe in yesterday.” G-d save us from our inevitable tomorrow.
1“Scientists Use Embryos Made Only For Research,” by Rick Weiss. Washington Post, Wednesday, July 11, 2001, p. A01.
2“Bush Agonizing Over Funding Of Embryo Research,” by Ceci Connolly. Washington Post, Sunday, July 15, 2001; Page A01.
Copyright 2001 by Bonnie Chernin Rogoff. Not to be reproduced in any fashion, in whole or in part, without written consent from the author. All rights reserved.