Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cloning a Monkey

Cloning research has taken another important step on the way to a brave new world. Scientists in England have produced dozens on cloned monkey embryos and have extracted stem cells from them, though attempts to implant embryos into female monkeys have not yet yielded a "Dolly."

I am currently reading the tremendous book, The Party of Death, by National Review Senior Editor Ramesh Ponnuru. This book deals with bioethics in all its forms, from abortion to euthanasia to stem cell research. I will have a review of the book once I finish it.

Ponnuru cuts straight to the heart of these highly charged and confused debates. Whatever the specifics of the debate at hand, Ponnuru cautions us to avoid creating two categories of humans: humans who have value and, therefore, rights and humans who do not. As applied to the stem cell debate, those who support the right to life for all humans must oppose the deliberate destruction of embryos, for whatever reason.

Some key points underlying the stem cell/cloning discussion:

1. Embryos are fully human and fully alive. Their appearance, size, location or level of development do not alter these facts in any way.

2. Harvesting embryonic stem cells from an embryo causes it to die.

3. Embryonic Stem Cell research has little chance of curing Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes, spinal cord injuries or anything else. Claims made by Ron Reagan and the like are wishful thinking at best and manipulative falsehood at worst.

4. Other kinds of stem cell research are available (adult, cord blood, placental) and are extremely promising. These kinds of research do not involve the death of a human embryo.

This by no means covers all the debate; rather, these points should be a starting place for those who wish to respect the right of all humans to live. No matter how "complicated" and confused the issues get as we slide down the slippery slope, let us never lose sight of the line between life and death.

No comments: