Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Sanctity of Life

Greg over at "What Attitude Problem" passes along this list from Chuck Colson, outlining what Colson feels are the top ten moral issues facing America today. It should come as no surprise that Colson puts "Sanctity of Life" at #1. Colson doesn't limit this to mean only abortion, but defines this as "preserving sanctity of life by resisting the encroachment of abortion, euthanasia, cloning, and embryonic stem cell research."

One might also add: defending the disabled from those who seek their destruction. Terri Schiavo, for example. Stand in the Trenches is one of many blogs that has been following her story closely.

Today on his "Breakpoint" radio program, Chuck Colson highlights a sneaky bill going through the Washington State legislature that purports to outlaw human cloning. In fact, the bill doesn't do that at all. It merely outlaws bringing a cloned human to full term.

[The bill] takes advantage of the public’s confusion about cloning to sell the moral equivalent of snake oil. To understand why this is the case, we need to understand cloning. It’s a process known as “somatic cell nuclear transfer,” or SCNT.

In SCNT, a “biotechnologist removes the nucleus from a mature human egg.” He replaces that nucleus with “nucleus of a body cell from [a] DNA donor. . . . A little shot of electricity comes next, and if all goes well, a new human cloned embryo comes into being.”

While all of this is much easier said than done, the important part is that “there is no more cloning to be done since a new human organism now exists.”

The Washington bill, like similar legislation in New Jersey , does nothing to prevent SCNT. All it would do is prohibit implanting the cloned embryo “with the purpose of producing a human being.” But since a human being has already been produced, when they use the words producing a human being, what the sponsors mean is bringing the cloned embryo to birth. Anything short of that is permissible under this bill.

You could clone human embryos and harvest stem cells, or you could grow fetuses for medical experiments, or let embryos gestate for nine months, abort them, and harvest the organs. [Wesley Smith, writing in National Review] gives these moral horrors a fitting name: “fetal farming.” People in the state of Washington have been misled into thinking that the bill would prevent the advent of a “Brave New World.” Instead, as Smith says, it ushers it in.

In other news, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Bush Administration's challenge of Oregon's assisted-suicide law -- the only law of its kind in the country.

Oregon's Death With Dignity Act, the administration's target, was approved twice by the state's voters and took effect in November 1997. According to the state, in a brief filed last month, 171 patients have used the law to administer lethal doses of federally regulated drugs that their doctors prescribed for them.

In the administration's view, suicide is not a "legitimate medical purpose" under regulations that carry out the federal Controlled Substances Act. Consequently, the administration will argue before the Supreme Court, as it did unsuccessfully in the lower federal courts, that doctors who prescribe drugs for committing suicide violate the federal law and are subject to revocation of their federal prescription license. The license applies to broad categories of medications and is necessary, as a practical matter, for a doctor to remain in practice.


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