There are times I’m almost embarrassed to be a radio talk show host. No, let me correct that. There are times that I’m embarrassed to be a talk show host because some of the other hosts and their rants are just so incredibly stupid. I hate guilt by association.

I am never embarrassed about the nature of the job nor because I put myself on the line every time I’m on the air. Every time the red light goes on, I risk saying something incorrect, unpopular and, yes, even stupid.

However, I generally avoid those traps because I do my homework, know what I think and don’t spout off just to rile folks or to put myself on a podium as though the words flowing from my tongue are as from the mouths of the gods. Yes, there are hosts like that and I pride myself at not being one of them.

That being the case, it always intrigues me to listen to other hosts and hear how they deal with serious questions of morality. Given the nature of the issue and the deep ramifications of the answer, it’s sometimes ludicrous to hear the hosts babbling.

Sometimes it’s laughable, other times insensitive and still other times, even illogical – believe it or not! But recently, the pompous declaration of one host left me breathless.

He was dealing with a profound question of life – one that has challenged and perplexed philosophers and theologians for centuries. Because of the progress of medical research and technology of the 20th and now the 21st century, it’s a question that remains a challenge.

This classic in stupidity was the discussion between the host and a caller on a top-rated, major-market station. The issue was stem cell research and the caller challenged the host with the question as to when “life” became a “person.” Of course, what had led up to this question was that the caller contended that stem-cell research was on human life and the host vehemently disagreed.

When the caller pressed the host for an answer, the host said with profundity that a person became a person when they had a birth certificate. The first time I heard him say that I was incredulous but thought perhaps he had slipped and uttered one of the “stupids” that are part of talk radio. But then, after the speech by President Bush approving limited, government-funded research on embryos – this same issue came up with this same host but a different caller.

He said it again – that a “person” becomes a person when he is born and has a birth certificate and is “treated in that sense as a human being.” Whatever that means. Hearing it again left me stupefied. What about the millions of “people” born over history with no birth certificate and even today, those born without one? Are they not “people”? If they’re not “people,” then they would be candidates for even more interesting medical research – but I digress.

The incredible nature of the host’s statement illustrates part of the battle between those protecting life and those who equivocate as to when “life” begins and when that “life” becomes human. In the eyes of the former, human life begins at the joining of the egg and the sperm. From that moment on, what is inside the pregnant woman (or in a test-tube) is a nascent human being. Not complete in its
development but everything is there to assure what the outcome will be at birth. There is never a chance the woman will give birth to a puppy or a kitten. If she is pregnant, no matter what you call what’s in her, it will turn out to be a human being.

Those who want a bit more moral flexibility, come up with conclusions that what’s in the woman is not a baby, not alive, not human or whatever, until birth. That leaves room for abortion without guilt, and even partial birth abortion as long as the unborn creature stays at least partially unborn at the time of its demise at the hands of a doctor.

This mode of thinking allows for total freedom for experimentation on human embryonic tissue, either stem cell or from sources at a later time of development. President Bush viewed it from a moral and ethical view and approved embryonic stem-cell research only on specified embryos that are already “dead” in the sense they cannot develop into a baby.

Mr. Bush is dancing on the head of a pin, not wanting to offend the pro-life contingent nor those who see this research as a panacea for every illness known to man. Too bad all the projections of such marvels are couched with terms like “possible,” “may,” “could,” “hold great promise” and “believe.” The truth is there are three types of stem cells and researchers do not know which is best. So much for the PR campaign to convince the public that embryonic stem cell research is the best and the only.

Talk about a slippery slope. If it is OK, according to Mr. Bush, to experiment on the 60 embryos already killed, then when will it become OK to use human fetuses resulting from legal abortions? But golly, they’re already dead aren’t they? And if we can use them for research to help others, what’s wrong with that? Like it or not, there already is a billion-dollar business in aborted baby parts, it’s just that we don’t talk about it in polite society.

And what about using other dead bodies of any age – after all, they’re already dead aren’t they? What would be wrong if it could help others? Think I exaggerate? No. It’s just a matter of time. It has already been seriously suggested to use bodies of convicts for medical research and organ donors for transplants.

President Bush couldn’t win for losing on this one. While I admire his deliberation, I fear his final equivocation is the result of mental vote counting for the future rather than the horror of what we face as those medical labs gear up for federal bucks and private profits on human tissue. And you thought the Nazis and the Japanese had a corner on human experimentation? God help us.

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