Thursday, March 12, 2009


The distinction between stem-cell research and embryonic stem-cell research is central to the debate over President Obama's recent reversal of government policy. Opposition to the latter is not opposition to the use of stem-cells generally. Scott Klusendorf responds to questions about embryonic stem-cell research. Excerpts:
2. Why is stem cell research focused, at least in part, on embryos?

Human embryos have an abundant supply of stem cells which scientists are eager to harvest in hopes of treating Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other illnesses. The practice of securing these early cells is known as embryonic stem cell research (ESCR). The problem is that you must destroy the embryo to secure its stem cells.

3. Does that mean Christians should oppose all stem cell research?

Absolutely not. Pro-life advocates agree that we should save lives. We also support funding stem-cell research. But, we’re opposed to one kind of stem-cell research that requires destroying defenseless human embryos so that other humans may (allegedly) benefit. That’s immoral.

4. The President and others have stated that embryonic stem cell research is morally complex. Do you agree?

Despite claims to the contrary, ESCR is not morally complicated. It comes down to just one question: Is the embryo a member of the human family? If so, killing it to benefit others is a serious moral wrong. It treats the embryonic human being as a commodity we trade to enhance our own well being. If, however, the embryos in question are not human, why not put them in the crosshairs of scientists? Unfortunately, that is precisely the question President Obama ignored when he signed an executive order designating federal funds for destructive embryo research. ....

6. President Obama said that ideology should not interfere with science. What do you make of that claim?

Well, the claim that ideology should not get in the way of science is itself an ideological claim, and a highly controversial one at that. I found this the most troubling part of his speech. If he is correct that scientific progress trumps morality, one can hardly condemn Hitler for grisly medical experiments on Jews. Nor can one criticize the Tuskegee experiments of the 1940s in which black men suffering from syphilis were promised treatment, only to have it denied so scientists could study the disease. Pro-life advocates are not anti-science. We are not anti-cures. We just insist that scientific progress must be tied to moral truth. [more] » Scott Klusendorf on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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