Untruth in Advertising

by Yuval Levin

Today’s Washington Post (page A7) contains an ad from the Association of American Medical Colleges. It takes the form of a letter from medical school deans to Congress calling for a law to allow federal funding of embryo research, now that a federal judge has ruled that such funding may violate existing law and has issued an injunction stopping all such funding while the case proceeds through the courts. At the top of the ad is a large bold all-caps headline that reads: “CONGRESS MUST ACT NOW TO CONTINUE LIFESAVING STEM CELL RESEARCH.”

Now I hate to nitpick, but in order to be called “lifesaving” doesn’t something have to have saved a life? Embryonic stem-cell research (which is the only stem-cell research implicated in the federal court case) could surely be called promising, or be said to have potential, but it has not saved a life or even ever been used in any way in the treatment of any human being with any medical problem. The research does, however, take lives—since it relies on the destruction of living human embryos.

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