Promises Better Unkept - Catholic Action For Faith and Family

Promises Better Unkept

Monday, March 9, 2009, was another very sad day for the U.S.A. In a failing economy that is anything but improving, President Obama has again diverted valuable tax dollars to fund a further assault on innocent human life. A few weeks ago the President issued an executive order vacating the Mexico City Policy thereby allowing our tax dollars to be used by “family planning groups” that promote and perform abortions in foreign countries. You and I are now paying to impose our Nation’s immorality on others. The President has now used the power of his office to co-opt the American taxpayer into paying for embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) that promotes the destruction of human embryos. This may include research on stem cells derived from so-called “spare” embryos as well as on stem cells derived from embryos that were created and destroyed specifically for research purposes with non-federal funds. Both orders, which fulfill campaign promises, demonstrate this administration’s disregard for the moral law and its determination to advance the culture of death. These executive orders are an affront to the consciences of all Americans who oppose these unspeakably heinous practices and who do not want their hard earned money used to support these violations of basic human rights here or abroad. With incredible arrogance, President Obama dismissed moral concerns about ESCR by referring to the previous ban on federal funding for ESCR as creating “a false choice between sound science and moral values.” Apparently he thinks there is no moral ground for opposing the killing of innocent human beings at the earliest stages of their existence. But it is he who has created the false choice, by wrongly implying that we cannot have medical progress unless we throw aside moral restraint. The President says that his executive order to fund ESCR will make up for the valuable time lost by not funding such research. The facts belie this claim. Federal dollars have been used to fund research on embryonic stem cells that were in existence before President Bush’s August 9, 2001, executive order, which banned the use of tax monies to encourage the destruction of more embryos for such research. ESCR has also continued with private funding. Of course businesses conducting this research would prefer to have the American taxpayer take the risks involved with research that has so far produced no benefits, even as they plan to reap the profits should it ever prove successful. If any time has been wasted, it has been in failing adequately to support adult stem cell research, which can be done without killing innocent human beings. Adult stem cell research has actually been successful. Adult stem cells have been used “to help people with Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, juvenile diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, sickle-cell anemia, heart damage, corneal damage, and dozens of other conditions” (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning). Still, if those who believe that pluripotent stem cells (the ones extracted by destroying human embryos) offer the greatest promise, despite their lack of therapeutic usefulness to date, they should work to develop ever better methods for reprogramming adult cells to produce the same type of pluripotent stem cells. In addition to avoiding the destruction of human life, these embryonic-like induced pluripotent stem cells (IPSC) have many advantages over those extracted from embryos, including the ability to use one’s own cells. These cells are a perfect match to the patient’s body and will not be rejected as foreign organisms. In recent months new techniques for inducing pluripotent stem cells, which are simple, cost effective and safe, have been developed. Further advances are anticipated in the near future. Why then did President Obama also reverse President Bush’s June 20, 2007, executive order that encouraged the National Institutes of Health to explore sources for pluripotent stem cells that do not require the destruction of human embryos? Adult stem cell research, including research using induced pluripotent stem cells, should be supported. The U. S. Bishops had good reason to warn that progress toward cures using adult stem cells may be halted or slowed by campaigns that divert attention and resources toward embryonic stem cell research (Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning). Science is morally sound only when it respects the inherent goodness and dignity of every human life. No scientific endeavor that denies the dignity and rights of some human beings by treating them as raw material for scientific advances can rightly be considered good. We learned this lesson here in the States by the tragic and racist Tuskegee syphilis experiments. The world learned it from the horrifying experiments conducted by the Nazis on persons viewed by them to have life unworthy of life. This philosophy ultimately led to the “extermination” of persons with disabilities, social misfits, those considered as threats to the Third Reich, including Catholic religious Sisters and Brothers and priests, and six million Jews. By lifting the ban on federal funding for research that encourages the destruction of human life, President Obama has helped to advance a science of utility that violates the natural moral law and the consciences of millions of Americans. There is, in fact, a real conflict between bad science and moral values.

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