>>Valley Patriot>>

Is Michael J. Fox Right about Stem Cells?
Paul Murano

Whether or not Michael J. Fox took his medication properly for his political TV commercial is not important. What is important is the argument he gives in favor of embryonic stem cell research.

First of all, everyone is for stem cell research, as long as the stem cells are donated by human beings that are not harmed or killed in the process. Adult stem cells and stem cells taken from umbilical cords have already shown great promise in treating other people with debilitating diseases.

The controversy is over embryonic stem cell research and whether the government should fund companies that create human embryos in order to extract their stem cells only to discard the embryos afterwards.

For those who do not recognize or do not care that these are human beings in their embryonic stage of development, it’s a slam dunk: of course we should fund it. However, for those who believe it is unethical to experiment on and discard human beings for the sake of other human beings, it is nothing less than Hitlerian. And this is where the pro-choice/pro-life divide remains.

However, the argument Fox is giving to interviewers is the argument that has been used to try to bridge the gap between the two sides, and seems to have convinced some otherwise pro-life politicians such as Orrin Hatch.

It goes like this: Since embryos are going to be discarded anyway - as in the numerous embryos killed in abortion or created through in vitro fertilization - why waste them when we could use their stem cells for such research?

On the surface it sounds attractive, even to many who consider themselves pro-life. But humans are not meant to think, act, and live on the surface.

The reason this argument is flawed, intellectually and morally, is the same reason the following argument would be flawed back in Nazi Germany:

The human beings in the death camps are going to die anyway, so why not experiment on them for the betterment of others before and after they are killed? Now substitute “death camps” with “abortion clinics” and “in vitro clinics”.

If you find this comparison unreasonable, it can only be because of your refusal to acknowledge the simple scientific fact that we all begin our existence at conception. Intentionally killing us in our embryonic or fetal stages of life, or any other stage, can never be permissible in a truly civilized society. But what about the argument that these fellow human beings will die anyway, or are already dead?

If we succumb to such reasoning, we fuel the machine that sustains our culture of death.

We would be contributing to the process, formally and materially, of legalized murder by offering an apparent benefit to such killing and experimentation.

We would contribute to a supply and demand mentality that would act as a “justification” to continue, expand and solidify our culture of death. We can never ethically benefit from human atrocity, and it’s difficult to understand why this is even a question so soon after Nazi Germany.

So is Michael J. Fox right in his assertion that embryonic stem cell research should be vigorously conducted because embryos are going to die and be discarded anyway? If you think experimenting on live human beings and discarding them as trash for the sake of other human beings is a good thing, then your answer is yes.

But if our culture of death of the past three decades in its sophisticated subtlety has not completely desensitized you to human atrocity and barbarism, then no such argument by a celebrity or a politician could possibly persuade you.

Paul Murano teaches theology and philosophy at Assumption College and Northshore Community College. He is also the producer of Paying Attention! Radio Program on WCAP. You can E-mail Paul at PJDM@aol.com

 *Send your questions comments to ValleyPatriot@aol.com
The November, 2006 Edition of the Valley Patriot
The Valley Patriot is a Monthly Publication.
All Contents (C) 2006
, Valley Patriot, Inc.
We publish 9,000 newspapers and distribute in Andover, North Andover,
Methuen, Haverhill, Chelmsford, Georgetown, Groveland, Boxford,
Lawrence, Dracut, Tewksbury, Hampton & Salisbury Beach, and Lowell.

Valley Patriot Archive

Prior Heroes

Prior Columns
by Paul Murano

Prior Editorials

Prior columns
by TomDuggan

Prior Lead Stories

Councilor Opposes
Home for Disabled Child