The stem cell progress announced yesterday (WaPo story here) is being viewed through a political lens in the mainstream media. Here’s the lead paragraph from the Post:
Researchers in Wisconsin and Japan said yesterday that they have turned ordinary human skin cells into what are effectively embryonic stem cells without using embryos or women’s eggs — the previously essential ingredients that have embroiled the medically promising field in a nearly decade-long political and ethical debate.
To the secularists, the salient descriptors are “medically promising” and “political and ethical.” Alternately, “legal and ethical:”
Until now, only human egg cells and embryos, both difficult to obtain and laden with legal and ethical issues, had the mysterious power to turn ordinary cells into stem cells.
Notice what comes first: the secular concerns of politics or legality. It isn’t until way down in the article that one may find that these supposed clumps of cells from embryos just might have been obtained at the cost of a human person:
Human embryonic stem cells, from days-old embryos, can multiply without limit and also develop into all of the 200 or so types of cells that make up the body. But because extracting them typically destroys the embryo, experiments with them have been attacked by those who believe that even the earliest stages of human life have moral standing.
Note well that “those who believe.” Which is a classic way of sneering at us primitives who might believe such an outrageous notion that an embryo has been made in the image of God, and is therefore entitled to all the dignity and respect we can muster.
The secularists will argue, with varying degrees of indignation and vehemence, that an embryo isn’t a real person. There is no thought; no volition; none of the visible attributes of a rational human being. This line of argument is fine, and quite utilitarian. But it leads, logically, to the notion that we should straightaway kill all mental retards, infants who’ve no one to care for them, the handicapped, the victims of Alzheimer’s, and myriad others whose lives are not deemed worthy.
The news of a possible way to achieve the benefits of stem-cell research while fully respecting imageo Deo is heartening. Not because it may end political debates, but because it may just increase our protection of life unborn.