“Senator Frist cannot have it both ways. He cannot be pro-life and pro-embryonic stem cell funding,” said Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the [Christian Defense Coalition].
So George W. Bush isn’t pro-life then? After all he was the first US President to authorize any federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Clearly folks like Bill Frist are pro-life and share the President’s ethical concerns with this research and both Bush and Frist are simply committed to finding a line that makes sense. But to say, essentially, that it’s impossible to be pro-life and pro-science puts these Neo-Luddites like this Mahoney in the same camp as the extreme environmentalists on the Left.
For what it’s worth, I think a comparison to organ donation is a valid analogy. When we know that someone is brain dead, there is no real opposition to using their organs to save someone else’s life. There are thousands of frozen embryos that will be simply thrown away at some point. Using those embryos looks to me very similar to using the organs of someone who is beyond help, unless we are going to argue in the alternative that it’s required to use every embryo produced in vitro to produce a pregnancy. I think that would be a very difficult law to enforce. Of course, safeguards should exist to ensure that embryos aren’t being prepared solely for research or even treatment, but simply throwing away those that exist that could be used seems, if anything, wasteful of life.
On the other hand, the only reason any of this is relevant is that the federal government is so deeply involved in funding health care research that there aren’t really any totally independent labs that could just do this research privately. That’s a real problem, possibly much more serious. Since the labs almost all lack independence, it gives the government the power to cut off research into some areas without the political will necessary for an outright ban.