The stem cell controversy need not be. But it’s been an easy one to
exploit. As usual, that’s largely because of semantics and deception.
Like the underlying message of the Michael J. Fox ads
(and others like them) in the Missouri stem cell debate before the
November ‘06 election….’if you don’t vote to approve research on stem
cells, you’re not compassionate’.
One of the most common complaints registered during the
recent election season, is that certain policy positions of political
candidates are wrongly characterized, or worse, just outright falsely
presented by the opposition. Nowhere has this trend been more prominent
than in regards to the stem-cell research positions of politically
conservative candidates at virtually every level of government.
For some reason, probably strategic and, in order to play on
emotion, the argument is usually presented as a false dilemma: Some are
for stem-cell research, while some others are against it.
Exactly. But it’s easy to clarify this debate simply by defining
terms. Say what you mean. If the issue is ‘embryonic stem cells’, say
so. That changes the conversation dramatically.
The real argument is between the use of either embryonic
or the adult varieties in stem-cell research, not whether or not
stem-cell research should be done. The question is whether medical
research will, or ought to be, tethered to ethical concerns, namely the
sanctity of human life, or whether we ought to discard these concerns
for the assumed possibility of greater utility ascribed to the
Research with adult stem-cells is deemed as “less promising,” even
though it has been the experimental means by which actual breakthroughs
That’s the second most important feature of embryonic stem cell
research, after the fact that it destroys a human being. It’s also
unsuccessful, when it’s been tried.
I have always wondered why it is necessary to demonize
nearly one-third of Americans who morally object to embryonic stem-cell
research, based on that group’s definition of when human life begins,
rather than to collectively focus on the proven promise of adult
stem-cell research instead.
I believe the answer lies not in appeals to compassion, scientific
reality, or any rational motive. Instead, I think that it comes down to
ideology and, a clash of worldviews.
Meyer’s got that right. If supporters of embryonic stem cell
research conceded the fact that it destroys a human being (and is thus
immoral), they would lose the argument on abortion. And everything in
the liberal political culture comes down to abortion and the worldview
that supports it.