Embryonic Stem Cell Research Is Ethical
By Keith Lockitch (International Herald Tribune and Irish Times, June 25, 2007)
Contrary to the claims of President Bush, there is nothing unethical about destroying embryos in the course of scientific research. An embryo is a potential, not an actual, human being, just as canvas is a potential, not an actual, work of art. It is a primitive cluster of cells, which is no more unethical to destroy than the cells that make up one's appendix.
Calling an embryo "human life" is an evasion of the distinction between a mass of undifferentiated cells in a test tube and an actual, living human being. Only the mystical doctrines of religion, which hold that a human being is, not a biological entity with certain natural properties--i.e., an independent organism possessing a rational faculty--but a transcendent soul temporarily trapped in a body, could cloud that distinction.
Embryonic stem cell research could potentially improve the lives of millions. In an effort to obscure the anti-life consequences of his opposition to such research, the President cited new discoveries that suggest scientists might one day be able to create pluripotent cells from non-embryonic cells, supposedly making the "unethical" destruction of embryonic cells unnecessary. But human welfare demands that scientists pursue every avenue that promises to realize the potential of stem cell technology--not abandon embryonic stem cell research in order to assuage faith-based objections.
We should praise this research for the life-enhancing breakthroughs it promises--and condemn the immoral attempt to return us to the Dark Ages, before science was liberated from the chains of religious dogmatism.