A bill in Congress would offer federal grants to encourage researchers to destroy new human embryos from fertility clinics for their stem cells.
Such killing in the name of "prgress" crosses a fundamental moral line. Government has no business forcing taxpayers to subsidize the destruction of innocent human life. President Clinton’s National Bioethics Advisory Commission conceded that human embryos "deserve respect as a form of human life." How does it show respect to treat human lives as mere crops for harvesting?
Those who say these embryos "would be discarded anyway" are wrong. Embryos that couples want discarded are barred from being used in research. In fact, many couples who initially chose to discard their "excess" embryos have later changed their minds and let them survive. But now, government-funded researchers would reach in and destroy these young lives before that can happen.
This bill would lead to much killing that would not otherwise happen. And since all the "spare" embryos available for research cannot provide enough stem cells to treat any major disease, the proposed law would inevitably lead to creating human lives in the laboratory solely to destroy them.
That hope of treating disease is the driving force behind this bill. Yet the "promise" of embryonic stem cell research has been exaggerated. The journal Science last week published a warning by Stanford University experts that "it is nearly certain that the clinical benefits of the research are years or maybe decades away." They added: "This is a message that desperate families and patients will not want to hear." But they need to hear it. They were led to support this unethical research by hyped promises of miracle cures.
Stem cells from umbilical-cord blood and adult tissues, posing no moral problem, have advanced quickly toward treating juvenile diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, sickle-cell anemia, cardiac damage and other conditions. The fixation on destroying embryos has diverted resources away from more promising therapies, and therefore ill serves suffering patients as well as embryonic human beings. Congress should reject this bill and support promising medical research that all Americans can live with.