Saturday, July 30, 2005

Frist Watch

Joel has another thought-provoking post today on Sen. Bill Frist's stem-cell turnaround, this one in response to a blogger who argues there's no harm in allowing doctors to cut up "excess embryos" obtained through in vitro fertilization when the embryos would just die anyway.

Replace "excess embryos" with "excess toddlers" and you see how sick the stem-cell dialogue has become. And this is only the beginning.

Joel observes:

We have precident in our legal system for protecting humans who are doomed. For example, suppose I decide to pull a Jack Ruby on a murderer on death row, just one day before his execution was to be carried out. I would be arrested, charged and prosecuted for killing a human who was going to die anyway. Or to use a perhaps more appropos example, suppose I started offing the very aged and infirm in some quick, unexpected and painless way? I would be charged with murder, despite the fact that my victims were close to death.
Or to use another example, which I believe was first suggested by a commenter on this blog: Suppose someone came up with a plan to allow doctors to do medical research on Death Row inmates while the inmates were still living. Suppose the inmates were aware that they would be killed during the course of the research, and were drugged so that they would feel no pain while doctors experimented on their vital organs.

Even if the inmates gave their consent, even if they were drugged so that they would feel no pain, wouldn't we find it the least bit...creepy? Wouldn't it raise all sorts of questions about the value of human life, particularly whether it is right to abuse and destroy people's bodies for the sake of "science"? Most importantly, wouldn't it make us the least bit fearful that perhaps tomorrow, or next week, someone might redefine "consent" so that people might be dismembered for "science" without explicitly agreeing to it?

Once we go down that road, decreeing that the weak are mere tools to build up the strong, the end result is the destruction of humanity.

Joel writes:
We enter peril, morally speaking, when we think of people in groups and fail to consider the individual. There is a huge number of embryos destined to be destroyed. But the notion of using "them" for research becomes more palatable when you close your mind to the idea that when a lab assistant punctures an embryo with a needle, he or she is ending one human being's life. If you believe life begins at conception, you have to treat that life as a human life.
The sick irony in Frist's position is that he claims he does believe life begins at conception—not as an article of faith, as John Kerry said he did, but as a scientific fact. So, what Frist is proposing to do, following his own logic, is to spend taxpayer money on a mission of murder—one in which, unlike military missions, the sole aim is to destroy only innocent people.

Read Joel's entire entry.