Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ammunition for Defending the Sanctity of Life

Source: Kairos Journal

The defense of the sanctity of human life is an issue we simply can't let become a "back-burner" issue. Every quality of a civilized society is at risk on the fringes of this issue. With that in mind, here is more ammunition for your defense of human dignity and life.

Protecting the “weakest and most vulnerable of human beings”—Gilbert Meilaender (1946 – )

Gilbert Meilaender1 is professor of Christian ethics at Valparaiso University, Indiana, and was a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics. In a personal statement appended to the July 2002 report, Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry,2 Professor Meilaender raises the important issue of protecting human life in its most vulnerable stage:

A number of Council Members, of whom I am one, hold that the human embryo is fully deserving of our moral respect and that such respect is incompatible with its deliberate destruction in research . . . We have taken seriously what the science of embryology teaches us. We have taken seriously what careful philosophical reasoning about the meaning of “potentiality” teaches us. We have taken seriously the lessons of human history in which the limits of our sympathy for fellow human beings who seem “different” from us have more than once had to be overcome in order to learn a more inclusive and egalitarian respect for human life. This does not mean, for me at least, that religious belief should play no role here. On the contrary, Jews worship a Lord who favors the widow and the orphan, who teaches us to speak on behalf of those no one else defends. And Christians worship a crucified God who has himself accepted vulnerability. Instructed by our religious traditions, we may see in the weakest and most vulnerable of human beings—those unable to speak in their own behalf—special objects of our care. Such care for the vulnerable seems to me incompatible with an industry of routine manufacture, use, and destruction of cloned embryos—even if the goal is to help others who are also vulnerable.3


Readers should be aware that Professor Meilaender does not hold that embryos earlier than 14 days post-conception qualify as “early human life.” See Gilbert Meilaender, Bioethics: A Primer for Christians (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996), 30-31. This does not represent the KJ position, but we offer the above quotation because of its perceptiveness.


The President's Council on Bioethics, Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry,Washington D.C., July 2002, (accessed April 04, 2004).


Gilbert Meilaender, Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry; Appendix: Gilbert Meilaender, Washington D.C., July 2002, (accessed April 04, 2004).

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