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Bioethics, Stem Cells, And The Abolition Of Man

By Harvey Dean
Former president of Warren-Center Line Right to Life

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.......and God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. Genesis, Chapter 1

What are bioethics? What assumptions underlay it? What are bioethicists seeking to accomplish?

The word itself--bioethics--suggests that its practitioners are involved in a high minded moral undertaking. This tends to deflect a close examination of a movement that is unraveling reverence to God and respect for man. Springing from the seedbed of Scientism, that movement's central premise is that Nature is not good, it postulates, nor is it evil. It is simply accidental. It denies that the universe is intelligently designed, and contends that whatever order may be impressed upon it comes only as a consequence of the efforts of man. In seeking to impress this metaphysical vision of reality on a world stumbling about in confusion, the bioethicists follow the pattern marked out by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and his cohorts when they dismissed the concept of natural law from our jurisprudential system and replaced it with the concept of "legal positivism." That concept, too, ousted God from the equation and underpinned human rights on shifting sands of "positivism" - i.e. - whatever those in power decreed from time to time as being law.

It is interesting to observe that the bioethicists have chosen to use the same strategies that the desecrators of natural law utilized in their successful campaign. One of those strategies, a leading one, is a policy of incrementalism. If society is not ready for acceptance of cloning of human beings, for example, they satisfy themselves with extracting stem cells from living embryos, while all the while campaigning to widen the range of societally acceptable experiments upon human beings. They debate continuously, but the inevitable result of such debates is ever more, never less, permissible experimentation.

Another strategy they employ is to confound the English language to further confuse the public. In this they are like the eugenicists of the 1920's who, when noting the antagonism their endeavors were sparking, stopped calling themselves "eugenicists" and substituted words like "population control" and "family planning" to evade public criticism. Today, Planned Parenthood spokesmen hotly contest the clear fact that its founder, Margaret Sanger, called for the sterilization of black women.

Still another strategy employed by the bioethicists is to appeal to the "greater" good of the many at the expense of the individual. Using this strategy, they appeal to the general public to accept the killing of embryos and babies-in-utero so that their fetal tissues may be extracted to help Alzheimers' patients. The Christian concept of the Fundamental dignity of each human life is entirely foreign to bioethicists.

In short, the very word "bioethicists" is an obscene oxymoron. One is tempted to wonder who is occupying the Josef Mengele chair in the Kennedy Institute of Bioethics.

The sad psuedo-science of bioethics was anticipated by C. S. Lewis when he wrote in THE ABOLITION OF MAN, "What we call Man's power over nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as the instrument.....The man-molders of the new age will be armed with the powers of an omnicompetent state and an irresistible scientific technique. We shall get at last a race of conditioners who really can cut out posterity in what shape they please...... it is not that they are bad men. They are not men at all.... They have stepped into the void. Nor are their subjects necessarily unhappy men. They are not men at all. They are artifacts. Man's final conquest has proved to be the abolition of man".

There is a practical reason for putting a spotlight on this movement today. Congress passed a law prohibiting the use of federal funds for stem-cell research. The National Institute of Health, with ex-President Clinton's blessing, drafted guidelines that interpreted the law to allow such research, so long as the embryonic lives were taken in non-federally funded laboratories by privately funded scientists and then transferred to government-run facilities. Review of those guidelines is now underway by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson. The final decision will come from the White House.

Write President Bush to ask him to issue an executive order banning federal funding of stem-cell research that involves the killing of embryonic human beings. Furthermore, ask him to send a bill to Congress that would criminalize such privately funded research. This would not thwart the great good that is coming from stem-cell research. Experiments using stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood and adult organs and tissue are extremely promising. Moreover, they do not involve killing anyone.



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