Friday, June 25, 2004

C'mon, Ron

I caught the end of Larry King Live last night only to hear Ron Reagan Jr., son of the late President, mock those who oppose embryonic stem-cell research (scroll down) as being anti-intellectual. Who's really not thinking here, Ron?
REAGAN: Doctors and researchers, as I said, can't believe we're still having this discussion. This is like not believing Darwinian evolution, or something, which many people in this administration also don't believe in. You know, just by the by. It is so profoundly anti-intellectual and inhumane. I mean, we are talking about cells, undifferentiated cells, in petri dish. No fingers, no toes, no brain, no spinal cord, no feelings, no pain, no nothing. These are just cells. And we're talking about the potential to save real, living human beings. Children with diabetes, for instance.
I'm not convinced Ron understands the debate. Our beef is not with stem-cells per se, as we who have studied this issue do recognize their potential benefit, particularly that of adult (non-embryonic) stem-cells. And, we're not arguing that stem-cells are human beings. We're saying that the embryos that are destroyed to harvest the stem-cells are real, living human beings. And more to that point, who says human life has to have recognizable fingers or toes to be human life? Some Americans don't have these. And at this stage of development, not having fully formed or even differentiated spinal and brain features does not mean that the embryo will not ever develop these things, as though it were dead. No, it will develop these things and grow to be just like Ron. It won't develop into a fish, or a rhino, or a bear. A human being can only develop into a more fully developed human being. There is a marvelous intelligence intrinsic to the developing human embryo, and that intelligence is life.

As a people who believe that life begins at conception, our position is intellectually coherent and consistent, and is a whole different beast than Darwinian evolution, which, though I do not reject it wholesale, has its own flaws that any scientist worth his microscope should be honest about. Framing the debate as though those who oppose embryonic stem-cell research are opposed to eliminating disease is, in my opinion, intellectually dishonest.
REAGAN: ... The list of things that could be helped by this just goes on and on. And that we are playing politics with this, I'll say it again, is shameful.
I'm not ashamed to demand that my tax money not be used to fund such research. That's my right as an American citizen, Ron.

What disturbs me about the political climate in this country today is the attitude that I can't be an American citizen and at the same time make ethical voting decisions based upon a conscience that is informed by my religious beliefs. People have told me that doing so is a violation of the separation of church and state. Our founding fathers would be spinning in their graves if they heard this ridiculous rhetoric. What's the point of having beliefs about anything, then? That is what I find shameful.


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