With Sen. McCain’s win in New Hampshire there have been a bunch of posts in St. Blogs about McCain’s suitability from a pro-life perspective. Christopher Blosser posting at Catholics in the Public Square blog has another one of his good round-up posts on the subject.
As many know Sen. McCain’s pro-life voting record is quite good except for the glaring example of voting for and supporting embryonic stem-cell research. Christopher posts the following from McCain’s site.
Addressing the Moral Concerns of Advanced Technology
Stem cell research offers tremendous hope for those suffering from a variety of deadly diseases – hope for both cures and life-extending treatments. However, the compassion to relieve suffering and to cure deadly disease cannot erode moral and ethical principles.
For this reason, John McCain opposes the intentional creation of human embryos for research purposes. To that end, Senator McCain voted to ban the practice of "fetal farming," making it a federal crime for researchers to use cells or fetal tissue from an embryo created for research purposes. Furthermore, he voted to ban attempts to use or obtain human cells gestated in animals. Finally, John McCain strongly opposes human cloning and voted to ban the practice, and any related experimentation, under federal law.
As president, John McCain will strongly support funding for promising research programs, including amniotic fluid and adult stem cell research and other types of scientific study that do not involve the use of human embryos.
Where federal funds are used for stem cell research, Senator McCain believes clear lines should be drawn that reflect a refusal to sacrifice moral values and ethical principles for the sake of scientific progress, and that any such research should be subject to strict federal guidelines.
Some have said with the very pro-life Sen. Brownback supporting Sen. McCain that the Senator now has a more restrictive view on ESCR than what he once held. The question is what does the above statement mean in the real world. If he is actually against human cloning and the intentional creation of human embryos than how does this effect actual research?
One of the reasons that cloning has become the grail for promoters of embryonic stem-cell research is that there are immunological issues associated with putting cells derived from one person into the body of another. These are not minor considerations and one easily solved and are the primary reason that so-called "therapeutic cloning" from the patients own tissue is the primary focus. You don’t have immunological issues if a clone is made of yourself and they kill your twin to get embryonic stem-cells. Using large scale genetic engineering to modify embryonic stem-cells from other sources is highly dubious, if possible at all, and could very well introduce genetic mutations The other possibility is as in organ transplants is finding a good match for the patient and would obviously require a large supply of embryos to make practicable.
So if the Senator is against both cloning and creation of embryos then where exactly are the embryos suppose to come from that he can approve research from? If the statement is actually represents his belief the only alternative is so-called "leftover" embryos from In Virtro Fertilization. If this is the case why doesn’t he just say so. If this is his position it would make it identical to Gov. Mitt Romney’s in that he specifically only supports ESCR with embryos from IVF.
This is a position that has been staked out by other politicians and one that I think makes not only no moral sense, but also no practical sense. Leaving aside moral concerns of using these embryos, say for example that there were sufficient human embryos that were released by the parents for use in research and that this research actually led to actual cures using embryonic stem-cells. This would then create a instant demand for human embryo’s that could not be met by the supply provided from research as a result of IVF. So by supporting use of these human embryos for research you are really automatically supporting the demand for human embryos from other sources.
As a side note it really is I think surprising how IVF seemed to fly in under the moral radar in the first place with very little outcry over it. Once again is is only the Catholic Church that is consistent and she publicly condemned the use of IVF while for the most-part Protestants have no problems with it. I think it is unfortunate the the pro-life community has hardly touched on this issue and I have never heard of demonstrations outside of clinics where IVF is done. Here we have a case where multiple embryos are created and then several embryos are implanted into the womb in the hope that one survives. When too many (by their standards) survive than "elective fetal reductions" are performed. Then of course there are also the other human beings that aren’t implanted who are placed into the "freezer." It is because of IVF that we have had part of the temptations to use these persons. The argument being that they are going to die anyway so I guess we should harvest the organs of prisoners about to be executed or experiment on people with terminal cancer since they are also all going to die anyway. Though of course all of us are going to die anyway.
As for myself I have a host of issues with Sen. McCain, though if he was the GOP nominee is would support him against the Democratic candidate who will be not pro-life at all. For the primaries though I will vote for someone much more pro-life even if they are a Don Quixote candidate.
Sen. McCain on his site also says he will protect marriage though he voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, though he defends this as a state’s rights issue. He did support Arizona’s proposition to outlaw same-sex marriage which was narrowly defeated.
This is another issue that annoys me among some of the GOP’s nominees. For example not supporting changes in the Constitution in regards to abortion and marriage. They say these are state’s rights issues only and should be left to each individual state to decide. It seems rather dumb to me that you could get married and then go across a state lines and have a marriage not recognized. But even if you could make the case for this when it comes to abortion we need to ultimately have Federal action done to protect life. Nobody now would accept a situation where slavery was once more condoned depending on the state. This was the situation before where slavery was legal in some states and outlawed in others. As a moral issue abortion is much worse than the great evil of abortion and to say it is only a states-rights issue is quite problematic. On a prudential level I will be quite happy if Roe v. Wade is overturned and the legality abortion once again be determined by each state since it is so much easier to fight against abortion at a state level. Ultimately thought anybody against abortion should see that the protection of life needs to be done at the Federal level. We amended the Constitution to outlaw slavery and we should do the same for abortion. Murdering children is not a states rights issue.