Igor! I Need More Bodies!
"Stem cell research" is in the news
again. To hear some people talk, it's the answer to curing every
affliction known: if only short-sighted, unfeeling fools don't
There's even a sentimental commercial
where a football star talks about his sick little boy. Apparently, the
boy will die unless researchers are allowed to get all the stem cells
they want, from any source they want.
Some stem cell research makes use of a
‘resource. that would otherwise go to waste: left-over embryos at
fertility clinics and other health care facilities. These are usually
Who could possibly object to using
For starters, the Bush administration.
They stopped funding to stem cell research that used extra embryos.
President Bush said that he'd veto a bill that gave tax money to people
who kill babies to get at their cells. One bill that would do this is
Another voice against using stem cells
from throw-away embryos is the Catholic Church. The Church sees people
of any age as human beings. Even embryos. The Catechism says that "human
life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of
conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must
be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the
inviolable right of every innocent being to life." (2270)
The Chairman of the Committee for
Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,
Cardinal Keeler, sent a letter to the House of Representatives on May
17. He wrote, "Government has no business forcing taxpayers to become
complicit in the direct destruction of human life at any stage"
Cardinal Keeler gave at two reasons for
not using tax money for embryonic stem cell (ESC) research.
First, using adult and umbilical stem
cells poses no moral problem. There are already ways to treat corneal
damage, Parkinson's disease, juvenile diabetes, spinal cord injury,
cardiac damage, sickle-cell anemia, and many more conditions, with adult
and umbilical stem cells. These methods are already at the point where
they're ready for human tests.
Second, even researchers say that the
‘promise. of ESCs was exaggerated. Those embryonic cells are genetically
unstable and tend to form deadly tumors when they're put in someone
The Knights of Columbus. Supreme
Knight, Carl Anderson, called Bush's promised veto "a principled stand
in defense of human life." "This is not a partisan issue," Anderson
said. "The bill is sponsored by a member of the president's own party,
and unfortunately many members of both parties do not appreciate the
grave moral issues that are at stake."
Another bill, H.R. 2520, supports
research using umbilical stem cells from and would establish a
nationwide public bank for those cells. Happily, although both H.R. 2520
and 810 passed the House, the deadly 810 bill doesn't have a veto-proof
Members of Congress probably shouldn't
be blamed for trying to spend our money to kill babies. They're not so
much evil, as clueless. Debate in Congress "showed an appalling degree
of ignorance and confusion on the issue," as an official of the United
States Conference of Catholic Bishops (UCCB), Richard Doerflinger, put
it. Some congresspersons said that "embryonic stem cells have a proven
ability to cure patients and that adult stem cells do not, whereas
exactly the opposite is true," Doerflinger pointed out.
The kind of sophistication and
conscience shown by our leaders sometimes reminds me of those old
black-and-white horror movies. Imagine a laboratory (pronounce it "la-boh-ratory)
in a dank castle. The Mad Genius (Dr. Master) is frustrated.
"Igor! I need more bodies!"
"I'm sorry, Master, the graveyard is,
heh-heh, empty. Oh, wait! I have an idea!" With that, Igor lurches out
Time passes. Then Master comes back to
the laboratory. "Igor! What are all these children doing here?!!"
"Oh, Master, the orphanage had some
extras. Is Master pleased?"
"Hmm. A little small, but at least
they're fresh. I'll start with the blond one."
On second thought, those ‘Bride of
Frankenstein's Second Cousin. movies were more realistic.
For most of the folks receiving this
bulletin, our Representative in the House is Collin Peterson, (202)
225-2165. Our Senators are Norm Coleman, (202) 224-5641, and Mark
Dayton, Mark, (202) 224-3244.
Find your US Representative:
Find your US Senator:
(Facts from Catechism of the
Catholic Church, Catholic News Agency, Catholic World News, EWTN,
Knights of Columbus, USCCB, and Zenit.)
Brian H. Gill, Editor,
Sauk Centre K of C Bulletin