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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Krauthammer Understands the Stakes in Embryonic Stem Cell Debate



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Charles Krauthammer is not pro life. He is not, as far as I know, religious. He is an MD and a psychiatrist, who became one of America's most erudite pundits after becoming paraplegic in a swimming accident years ago. This, according to the media, should give him as much moral authority as Michael J. Fox, Mary Tyler Moore, and the late Christopher Reeve. Plus, he is smarter than those three put together.

Here is part of what Krauthammer wrote in this fine column about the political attempt to overturn President Bush's stem cell funding policy: "You don't need religion to tremble at the thought of unrestricted embryo research. You simply have to have a healthy respect for the human capacity for doing evil in pursuit of the good. Once we have taken the position of many stem cell advocates that embryos are discardable tissue with no more intrinsic value than a hangnail or an appendix, then all barriers are down. What is to prevent us from producing not just tissues and organs, but human-like organisms for preservation as a source of future body parts on demand?"

Why, nothing at all. The power of human logic virtually compels us to go there.

After extolling the finding of potentially pluripotent stem cells in amniotic fluid, Krauthammer concludes: "It will have turned out that Bush's unpopular policy held the line, however arbitrary and temporary, against the wanton trampling of the human embryo just long enough for a morally neutral alternative to emerge. And it did force the country to at least ponder the moral cost of turning one potential human being into replacement parts for another. Who will be holding the line next time, when another Faustus promises medical nirvana if he is permitted to transgress just one moral boundary?"

Good question. On the other hand, there is cause for optimism. The latest poll shows that support for expanded funding is hardly overwhelming, 56-41%. And remember, that is with tens of millions in Big Biotech propaganda and a totally in the tank MSM pushing the agenda. A few more big adult stem cell breakthroughs and the home team will be back in the game.


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