Monday, August 01, 2005

Leave Life Alone!

by Jennifer Carlson
Elementary teacher, writer and a great wife!!

Sunday morning I was drinking my coffee as I sat down to watch some of the morning political talk shows. This week the hot topic was the decision of Senator Bill Frist to depart from President Bush’s position of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Senator Frist was applauded by all for his bravery and wisdom, and all agreed that since he is a physician he must be correct. After all, according to an ABC poll every two out of three people agree the federal government should fund embryonic stem cell research. How smart of the Senator to take this position. Everyone on the panel seemed confident in their conclusion and the discussion was ended. Meanwhile I was left sputtering in my coffee. Why does the federal government need to fund the research?

After reading Senator Frist’s proposals I found it hard to argue against them. If embryos are left over from an invitro procedure and are destined to be discarded, why not use them for research? If we have laws in place to ensure that no embryos are created strictly for the purpose of research, what is the danger? There are people suffering from a multitude of afflictions that could possibly be cured through embryonic stem cell research. How can we deny them a chance at a cure when the embryos in question are going to be destroyed anyway? It seemed so simple. I however had one more question. Are the leftover embryos actually people? This is the question no one likes to talk about.

How did we get to this discussion? Infertility is a problem haunting many people these days. Through the wonders of modern medicine we have developed a variety of ways to stop that pesky biological clock. Invitro fertilization is just one way for women and their families to satisfy that innate need to reproduce. This brings us to the current debate. What do we do with the embryos not implanted? Some are given away for other infertile couples to try and implant, some are discarded, some are frozen and saved, and some are destroyed for research. How handy.

When is it acceptable to destroy life? As a country we have some odd notions. Currently if the child is wanted then it is not acceptable to destroy it. Note how outraged the public becomes when a pregnant woman is hurt or killed, or the sympathy and grief at a miscarriage. If a child is not wanted then it is acceptable to destroy it. Note how many babies are aborted each day, or created in a dish and thrown away before they have a chance at life. Why is the death penalty acceptable when abortion is not? Or vise versa, why is the death penalty unacceptable and abortion ok? Or for that matter, why is the deliberate euthanization of the incapacitated allowed? So many conflicting views on the value of a life. So here is my proposal

Let’s leave life alone. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Following this rule (for human life) we could come to a national consensus on a variety of current issues. In the case of the death penalty, abolish it. Even is someone deserves death, we don’t have to administer it.
In the case of abortion, abolish it. Why not carry the babies to term and put the unwanted up for adoption? There are more than enough infertile couples willing to take children. In the case of the incapacitated without a living will, allow them to live even if we can’t understand their purpose. Who are we to judge the value of a life? And for those troublesome leftover embryos, why not find them a uterus? Many of the embryos will not attach and become a full grown human being, but at least they will have a chance.

The promises made by embryonic stem cell research are certainly compelling. I have a serious problem with using human beings for research, no matter how small. I also have a had time believing that with all of the brilliant people in our country and the world, that there is no way to find cures for diseases without destroying other human beings. I hold no judgment for people in favor of the research. I can’t imagine the pain and suffering of those with the hope that such research brings. I hold no judgment for those who have undergone invitro fertilization or are considering it. My husband and I are without children and are exploring the causes of our own infertility. I do however question those out to simplify the debate. It reaches to the core of our beliefs as a country and cannot be summed up in a ten minute segment on a Sunday morning discussion panel.