I consider myself blessed to live at a time where we benefit from so many advances in medical science. In terms of physical health, we’re all much better off today than we were or would have been just a few decades ago.
But what happens when the latest and greatest in medical science comes at the expense of another human life? How would you feel knowing that a human life was created only to be destroyed for your benefit? How far are we willing to go to live longer and healthier lives? These are questions we’ll be facing in the very near future.
Groundbreaking advancements come at a price
You may not have heard a lot about it but a few weeks ago, for the first time ever, scientists reported creating human embryos cloned from adults. They used a technique that was similar to the one used in 1996 to create Dolly the sheep, the first mammal ever cloned (which, by the way, suffered from a number of health problems and died prematurely).
After creating human embryos, researchers then collected stem cells (cells that have the ability to develop into many other types of cells) from them. Scientists hope to someday produce stem cell lines that can be used to treat a number of diseases, like Type I diabetes, using therapies that are tailored to individual patients.
Unfortunately, research using embryonic stem cells comes at a price – the destruction of a human life. To harvest the stem cells, these researchers had to destroy the embryos they created.
Questioning the humanity of embryos
Now, some people argue that these embryos are so young that they just don’t count as human life. Others say that because they were created in a lab it’s somehow not a moral problem to destroy them. But both of these arguments are wrong.
The fact is, a human doesn’t become a human just by reaching a certain age or stage of development. A person is a person from the very start. Arguably the biggest difference between these cloned embryos and any baby in a hospital nursery is that the latter was given nine months to grow and a place to do it in.
As for the second argument, the way that a human embryo is created doesn’t make it any less human. For example, a baby produced using in vitro fertilization isn’t any less a baby simply because she was conceived in a petri dish. And nobody ever claimed Dolly wasn’t really a sheep just because she was cloned. Likewise, a cloned human embryo is still a human being, deserving the same respect and protection that all human life deserves.
Protecting life at every stage
Greg Rutecki, M.D., a Fellow at the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity and an emeritus member of Focus on the Family’s Physicians Resource Council, was asked about the cloning research described above. His response was insightful and penetrating: “Not only does the act of cloning ignore the sanctity of human life through the wanton destruction of living beings, but it also makes life a manufactured commodity…destined to be bought and sold to the highest bidders.”
Dr. Rutecki’s assessment is chilling. Is that what we really want as a society—to buy and sell human life? Are we willing to destroy lives for the hope of better health?
I pray that we will all come to recognize that what endangers and diminishes one of us diminishes and endangers all of us. And I pray that together we’ll choose a higher course, one that protects and values life at all stages.
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