The gathering storm on stem-cell research

By Jerry Falwell

On Tuesday night, Ron Reagan Jr., addressing the Democratic National Convention, vigorously endorsed federally funded research for embryonic stem-cell research.

In his speech, Mr. Reagan laid out the plan for using lab-created human embryos – which are destroyed – in scientific research. While I respect him for his concern for people who need help, there are legitimate moral issues that are in play regarding the destruction of human embryos. Furthermore, scientists are successfully using adult stem cells – which do not require the destruction of human life – to make many scientific gains.

Science, biblical values & attack dogs

On CNN’s “Crossfire” on Wednesday, Democrat gadfly James Carville five times accused me of leading a “right-wing” assault on federally funded embryonic stem-cell research. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr. Carville also suggested that opposing federal funding for this type of research is “loony” and “nutty.” He’s always so charming, you know.

So, with Mr. Carville’s typically hysterical charges in mind, let me spell out the heartfelt concerns of people of faith who want to safeguard all stages of human life.

Most pro-life people believe that life begins at conception or fertilization – that is the foundation for being pro-life. Therefore, we believe that even embryonic life is something to be cherished and protected even though, as Ron Reagan noted, these lives have no arms or legs or discernible signs of what we recognize as humanity.

The fact is, most liberal politicians and pundits long ago sold their souls to the abortion-rights movement that is responsible for the million or so abortions in America each year. We can’t really expect the abortion-rights community to understand our regard for life when they have already disregarded 40 million aborted lives. What we can expect is the usual flurry of accusations that we are “right-wing” zealots who are out of touch with what the left has determined to be the “mainstream.”

Our ethics on life cannot be offhandedly modified simply because an arm of science demands it or because the left calls us names. Once we begin to adapt our ethics because of political heat, there is literally no telling where we could arrive in terms of completely manipulating innocent life.

President of The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity John Kilner, Ph.D., said this week, “History is littered with misguided attempts to relieve suffering by cutting ethical corners.”

That is a warning that should be readily heeded.

Adult stem cells

Dr. Kilner further noted that:

… all that Ron Reagan advocated can be achieved through adult stem-cell research. But he amazingly never mentioned adult stem cells. Instead, his misleading language covered up the fact that producing the cells he seeks requires cloning human beings and then destroying them. Cloning and killing are too high an ethical price to pay, particularly when there is another safe way to develop the same cures.

Noting that the federal government will in fact spend about $28 million on embryonic stem-cell research this year, the organization wants more money spent on adult stem-cell research where 45 diseases are currently being treated and new treatments are on the way.

Here’s the most important thing – embryonic stem-cell research, according to Dr. Kilner, has yet to be used as a treatment in even one disease.

In Colorado Springs, Focus on the Family Senior Bioethics Analyst Carrie Gordon Earll also touted adult stem-cell research:

The claim that embryonic stem cells are the long-sought cure to illnesses such as cancer, Parkinson’s and diabetes is misleading at best and unethical at worst. The practice of harvesting cells from the youngest and most vulnerable members of the human family in the hope of successfully treating these conditions is barbaric and unnecessary.

While adult stem cells are showing great promise in being used to develop therapies, embryonic stem cells have shown just the opposite: tests have produced tumors in lab animals and there’s no reason to think that would not be repeated in human trials. Our government has no business in subsidizing the calculated destruction of any more of our children.

The Democrats conveniently forget to mention this information.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins is leading the call for Republicans to take the momentum in this debate.

“The Republicans,” he said, “need to invite President Reagan’s other son, Michael, to deliver a primetime address at their convention in order to reiterate the truth about President Reagan – that he was unabashedly pro-life, believing that life begins at conception.”

Here’s the bottom line: The Democrats want Americans to think that if you oppose embryonic stem-cell research you must be a right-wing whacko with “an axe to grind.” But as I’ve discussed, our concerns are legitimate and the options are sound. It is indeed imperative that the Republicans sensibly lay out the problems of tampering with innocent life while also promoting scientific programs that are already proving successful.