Yesterday the House of Representatives passed a bill to allow stem cell research involving embryos that are in frozen storage at fertility clinics. (link)
President Bush has promised to veto this bill because it “would take us across a critical ethical line.” “Every embryo is unique and genetically complete, like every other human being. And each of us started out our life this way. These lives are not raw material to be exploited, but gifts.” He appeared with a roomful of children who had been adopted at the embryo stage from parents who undergone fertility treatments and had donated their frozen embryos.
I can respect the President’s views. I have to believe that the only reason he could say something so stunningly ignorant is because he believes it.
Every cell of every person is unique and genetically complete. Is the President planning an initiative to save every cell from every person in the world?
If what we seek to preserve is the unique and genetically complete person, does that mean that we can begin genetic experimentation of one of a set of identical twins?
How about if we let these frozen embryos divide just once, implant one cell in an adoptive mother and use the other for stem cell research? No “unique and genetically complete” individual has been sacrificed. This is just a transplantation operation involving a donor at the two cell stage.
You know this last is such an absurd formulation that it might just pass ethical muster with a little bit of tweaking. Ensure that the separation of the cells can be done without harm to the donor. Ensure that the donor is viable before using the donated cell in experiments.
To complete the carnival, Tom DeLay is quoted too. “An embryo is a person, a distinct internally directed, self-integrating human organism,” Mr. DeLay said, adding, “We were all at one time embryos ourselves. So was Abraham. So was Muhammad. So was Jesus of Nazareth.”
I am substantially more certain that evolution happened than Mr. DeLay is of the embryonicity of Jesus. Not that I want to debate theological genetics with anyone, especially Mr. DeLay, but I have to ask, ” Was he there?” How does he know the Holy Spirit didn’t form Jesus as a blastula? If God can breathe life into Adam’s clay, surely He is not constrained to the mere mixture of gametes.
That Mr. DeLay is so presumptuous as to categorically assert knowledge of the biological mechanisms of God’s workings is no surprise. That this presumption passes for morality certainly is.