In Embryonic Stem Cells

President Obama’s decision to support scientific experimentation on human embryos and the Rudd Labor Government’s use of foreign aid money to fund abortions are a serious abuse of science, argues Senator Barnaby Joyce.

President Barack Obama’s decision, which has been lauded by so many, now allows US government funding for embryonic stem-cell research. This belies the fact that the greatest success in stem-cell research has come from alternative processes that do not involve the destruction of a human embryo, which is human life.

President Obama has used his familiar rhetoric of offering “hope” for the alleviation of human predicaments and ailments such as spinal-cord injuries, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. Unfortunately, this promised hope is contradicted by the science surrounding embryonic stem-cell treatments.

“Hope” has become a foil for fact. By permitting experimentation on human embryos we are creating yet another mechanism for diminishing the most intrinsic worth of humanity, life itself.

Dr Irving Weissman, director of the Stem-Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Institute at Stanford University, recently endorsed President Obama. He took us to a new level of sandpapering away all values with his statement that the US President would “remove ideology, religion and politics from science altogether and let scientists do science regulated by their own government agencies”. (ABC Radio National “Breakfast” program, March 10, 2009).

This is an extremely dangerous proposition. It is particularly unwise for scientists to believe that, in addition to being the epicentre of their own domain, they are the epicentre of the world’s ethics, philosophy and morals. This has led humanity in the past down the path of such disgraceful practices as eugenics.

Science has an important role to play, but it must work within the paradigm of ethics and morals. Human experimentation without the consent of the human victim is definitely outside this paradigm.

The danger of embryonic stem-cell research is that decisions are taken in a philosophical vacuum. It is one party’s decision about the benefit he or she will derive from the experimentation rather than about the intrinsic substance and worth of the human life to be destroyed. It is a precursor to a very selfish and shallow world.

In contrast to embryonic stem-cell experimentation, there is immense benefit to be derived from research on stem cells found in umbilical cords, in human fat and in the olfactory mechanism of the human body. But why is there such fervour in wanting to obtain stem cells from the destruction of human embryos? What possible benefit can be derived that is superior to the value of preserving human life?

The cheers that resounded when President Obama declared that his Administration would support the destruction of human embryos in the name of science make an appalling spectacle. This new ethos of allowing the taking of innocent life completely contradicts the sentiment conveyed in the title of President Obama’s personal manifesto, The Audacity of Hope.

What hope can you have when a scientist has the power to destroy you? What hope is there when you are denied the opportunity to live and experience the same joys of all the others who walk this earth?

Rudd Government’s decision

In Australia, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s decision to allow foreign aid funding of abortions likewise entails the destruction of innocent human life.

Here again, we must ask the same question: who has the right to terminate human life in this way? And by what authority can they exercise this power over their fellow human beings?

If one’s right to life is determined in this instance by one’s age, what philosophical principle can sustain it beyond that of convenience?

If we believe that natural law upholds our inalienable right to live unharmed, then why should that right be withheld from us in our early life prior to birth?

In the womb, the unborn baby is without question alive and has most of the physiology that everybody else has, including functioning organs, movement and sensations of pain, love, hearing and touch.

Parents have a sense of connection when they put the ultrasound image of their unborn child on the fridge and say, “There is my baby”, or, after the tragedy of a miscarriage, they say, “We have lost our baby”.

Why are we allowing the use of taxpayers’ funds to kill people? Just because these people live overseas doesn’t make it any more justifiable than doing it anywhere else.

Why do we create this arbitrary cut-off age below which apparently nobody has any rights and the state is somehow entitled to pay for a death? If a person were to perform the same action against anyone beyond this arbitrary age, that person would go to jail for an extremely long time, earning the utter contempt and disgust of the community in the process.

… Even though abortion is widespread in Australia, people overwhelmingly know deep in their hearts that it is wrong. You never see T-shirts proclaiming, “I caused an abortion and I’m proud of it”.

Nevertheless many people are reluctant to voice their misgivings publicly for fear that their motives might be misunderstood.

However, with the benefits of today’s scientific technology such as ultrasound, together with our greater insights into the human condition, we are surely mature enough to discuss this issue intelligently.

I think that, with our greater knowledge of the subject, our views should change and we should admit we were wrong in allowing the destruction of human life in this form.

Barnaby Joyce is an LNP senator for Queensland and leader of the Nationals in the Senate.

Article reprinted from News Weekly, April 4 2009, with permission.

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