Monday, November 10, 2008

Obama and Stem Cells

Obama is poised to reverse the current ban on stem cell research. This debate has always been interesting because of how it so clearly juxtaposes two basic visions of morality. On the one hand, there is the seemingly pragmatic view that this research can lead to the saving of human lives. Why should discarded fetus’ go into the trash when they can be used for research? This might be more compelling to you if you had a relative with a disease that could be potentially cured down the road.

On the other hand, the ‘wrong is wrong’ type of view posits that the ends don’t justify the means. Life is sacred. To use fetuses in this way is initially wrong because abortion is wrong. Plus, this may actually give an incentive to advance abortion all for the cause of the advancement of science.

My sense is that America is generally a pragmatic country. We tend to support things because they work or may work in the here and now and not because they are morally right in a more abstract, religious sense. If the two correlate, and they often do, than great. But if they don’t we tend to be pragmatic.

That’s a shame. There is a great cost when a people can’t stand on principle and call what’s wrong -- wrong. I understand why stem cell research will move forward. I just don’t like it.

There are pockets of conservative support for stem cells. This is a bit puzzling because conservatives are well aware of the idea of unintended consequences. A respect for the sanctity of life is an idea worth conserving. Stem cells are not a guarantee, there are alternatives, and this may prove a false hope. We certainly know that the idea does not advance the cause of life that is so essential for a well ordered and compassionate society.

For a great article on this I’d refer you to the following:

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