Newsday printed an op ed by Michael D. Kerlin, “Where faith and stem cells meet: Jesus might have us use embryos – otherwise destined to be discarded – to aid the sick and dying.” (That’s pretty much it, except to testify to his Christianity, his alma mater, and to lay the fate of all sick and dying at the feet of President George Bush.)
As I commented at the site, Jesus taught that “self” belongs in front of “sacrifice.”
The other posters and Mr. Kerlin do not seem aware of the facts about the numbers of embryos that would actually be available for research.
And a couple of the posters are horrified that I set the responsibility for ensuring the safety of the embryonic humans on the parents and the labs who created humans in harm’s way. They ask whether I would forbid in vitro fertilization (IVF) and tell men and women who are unable to have children by natural intercourse, “tough luck.” One poster doubts my sincerity, since there are so few picketers and protesters outside of IVF facilities. He questions whether the protests are only hypocritical abuse and harassment of poor single women, rather than rich couples seeking IVF.
There was a RAND study on the numbers of embryos available for research (Hoffman DI, Zellman GL, Fair CC, Mayer JF, Zeitz, JG, Gibbons WE, and Turner TG. May 2003. “Cryopreserved Embryos in the United States and Their Availability for Research.” Fertility and Sterility 79 (5): 1063–1069.)and Art Caplan published one a few years ago, and he was surprised at how few parents would even consider research and how reluctant they and the clinics were to simply destroy the “excess” embryos. In addition, for those currently frozen, it’s unlikely that the proper informed consent.
Yes, there are few protesters at IVF clinics, because most people have empathy for the parents who want children so much that they would go through all that IVF requires. Also, most people simply aren’t aware of how many embryos are discarded.
However two wrongs don’t make a right. Again, “self” should always precede “sacrifice.”
It was our empathy that created the current situation, where the brothers and sisters of those babies who are now in the arms of the parents who wanted them so much died during the IVF process and more are frozen and at risk. We must steel ourselves to resist the temptation to help “the sick and dying,” everyone from celebrities to tiny children who beg us and our legislators to sacrifice human embryos for their sake.
Who is to decide that some humans may be destroyed and dissected for research or so many spare parts for the benefit of someone else?
Because we know that embryonic stem cell research leads to a slippery slope. We know because some men and women have already fallen down that slope.
I’m sure that most of us have read about the women paid to become pregnant and have abortions for research and profit in the Ukraine and about all the full term healthy babies who mysteriously die in some of that country’s hospitals. At one of these hospitals, graves of infants who had had brains and other organs have been found.(More here and here. Warning – graphic descriptions)