Monday, March 09, 2009

Federally Funded Embryonic Stem Cell Research

The Executive Order lifting the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research has been signed, and I find the accompanying statements fascinating. While noting that the President was surrounded by and supported by leading scientists, the White House blog and his statements were sure to make note of the faith-based angle on the whole thing.

But he also made clear that his decision was not made based on his belief in science alone: "As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering."

And further:

The President said that a false choice has often been presented between science and faith, and that corrupting, shielding, or shying away from the facts science lays bare benefits nobody...

The translation for this is pretty simple. Opposition to “promising” embryonic stem cell research comes from a religious point of view we find distasteful, and therefore ignorable. To get through the “false choice” between science and faith is to tell that kind of faith to get out of the way. And though the President used the faith-card to try and buttress the religious angle on this event, it rests on the dubious ethical standard of “ends justify the means.” The assumption is that ESR does or will benefit people, when in reality, it does not benefit anyone and it destroys human embryos.

This morning I wrote that we needed a new parade of victims to help press this through. Reenter the exploitation of the Reeve family and a photo op with a crippled Congressman (photo on the White House blog). The President said:

As we restore our commitment to science, and resume funding for promising stem cell research, we owe a debt of gratitude to so many tireless advocates, some of whom are with us today, many of whom are not. Today, we honor all those whose names we don’t know, who organized, and raised awareness, and kept on fighting – even when it was too late for them, or for the people they love. And we honor those we know, who used their influence to help others and bring attention to this cause – people like Christopher and Dana Reeve, who we wish could be here to see this moment.

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