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Catholic Church Defends the Defenseless

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

In the wake of South Korea’s announcement that the country will remove some of its blocks to embryonic stem cell research, Pope Benedict spoke out against this area of scientific research. Part of his statement reads,

The destruction of human embryos, whether to acquire stem cells or for any other purpose, contradicts the purported intent of researchers, legislators and public health officials to promote human welfare.

Pope Benedict’s comments are important because they touch on an inconsistency that is rarely brought to the public eye: Those who favor embryonic stem cell research find themselves in a contradictory position, one of snuffing out one life in order to save another.

Only, the jury’s still out on whether embryonic stem cells will cure diseases like Parkinson’s, ALS, diabetes, and spinal cord injury. “Potential” is not a cure.

Granted, one day the potential may lead to a cure. What if it does? Does that change the status of the unborn?

We know how to cure kidney failure, a deadly and serious disease afflicting thousands of Americans. A kidney transplant will do the job. The problem is we don’t have an abundance of spare kidneys. They have to be donated, and donated kidneys are hard to come by. Why don’t we just commission kidneys like the police can do with the cars of private citizens? Nobody would support that idea because it infringes on human rights.

Kidney donation is not fatal (that is, if you have two kidneys). Embryonic stem cell research is. And until researchers discover a way to extract stem cells from embryos without destroying them, they should refrain from this kind of experimentation for the sake of human life.

Of course, my position assumes that life begins at conception. I realize that not everybody agrees with me. But I have spent a lot of time examining Scriptural, philosophical, and biological evidence. Do the supporters of abortion and embryonic stem cell research care to do the same? I doubt it. The fact that they press the issue so forcibly, making broad claims about causing the lame to walk again, betrays their unwarrented exuberance.

I have a lot of problems with the Pope, but in a debate such as this one, where those who argue for the sanctity of human life are often lost in the din of liberal social morality, he speaks with a voice that can be heard. I’m glad he is not afraid to speak out.