Michael J. Fox Right about Stem Cells?
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
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,
its 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
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 its
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
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
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