Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Abortion Battle is Bigger Than You Think

Please Mr. President, Reconsider

Abortion was only the beginning. This could be worse. (The following is from Kairos Journal). Please, Mr. President, reconsider your funding of embryonic stem cell research.

More Corrupting than Abortion—Eric Cohen (1977 – )

Eric Cohen was a senior research consultant for the President's Council on Bioethics from 2001-2007. Even though he is himself unsure of the moral status of the early embryo, Cohen argues that embryo-destructive research should be avoided. In this excerpt from a recent article, Cohen maintains that although the pro-life movement has rightly spent its energy combating abortion, it would do well to begin giving some attention to embryonic stem-cell research as well. Pro-lifers have had substantial success convincing the public that abortion is a horrible and even inexcusable practice. Embryo research, on the other hand, seems relatively innocuous; but that is an illusion. Its insidious nature makes it more corrupting than abortion.

[E]mbryo research is at once more defensible and more corrupting than abortion. It is more defensible because the goal is a humanitarian one (to ease suffering and cure disease rather than end a pregnancy), and because the early-stage embryos in question are so existentially puzzling. They are microscopic, developing, genetically complete human beginnings—not just any beginnings, but the beginnings of a particular human life. But they are created outside their natural environment in the human womb, and often left frozen for years in the IVF clinics where they are made. These embryos may be “one of us,” but they don’t seem like one of us. The moral transgression of embryo destruction, though real, is not so obvious, while the sick child or Parkinson’s patient is obviously suffering.

For the very same reason, embryo research is potentially more corrupting than abortion. It is a fruit we seek, not a transgression we tolerate. It is a premeditated project, not a decision made in crisis. Only the most extreme pro-choice advocates see abortion as a “good” and abortionists as heroes. But embryo-based medicine, if it were possible, would quickly become “standard practice” for the entire society, with leading researchers winning Nobel Prizes and parents who reject it for their children seen as legally negligent. Once cures exist, we might quickly forget that there is a moral problem here at all. Late-stage abortion requires a greater willingness of mother and doctor to look away from the facts of what they are doing, because of the obvious humanity of the developed fetus. But embryo research, so closely tied to the modern medical project that we all esteem, could become a celebrated American way of life in a way that abortion has not.1


1 Eric Cohen and William Kristol, “The Politics of Bioethics,” The Weekly Standard 9, # 33 (May 10, 2004): 25-29.

No comments: