Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Stem cells, abortion, and morality

The US Congress is sending a bill to President Bush authorizing the removal of funding restrictions for fetal stem cell research, a bill Bush will almost certainly veto.

The arguments for research come from Science; namely, that dread diseases or conditions may be cured or eased using stem cells, or from some by-product of the research.

The arguments against research come from Morality; namely that all life is sacred, even that of a frozen embryo. Similar arguments are used against abortion.

It is asserted, rather than scientifically proven, that human life begins at conception. It is a moral question to those against, not a scientific question (unless the science agrees with their position, presumably).

Right now, embryos not implanted in a womb or used for research are destroyed; there is no law against this. Right now, an unwanted fetus may be aborted; there is no law against this. If you don't like the law, you can attempt to change it.

A quick lesson in civics: it is the job of the Legislative Branch to make law, the Executive Branch to carry out and enforce the law, and the Judicial Branch to interpret the law.

Therefore, I propose that Congress decide at what point life begins; that is, when an American life begins, when that life is entitled to be protected by the Constitution and the laws of the land.

The de facto ruling at present is "live birth". If those who complain about the immorality of it all decide in great enough numbers that an American life begins in the third trimester of pregnancy, or when a viable embryo is produced, or at conception, then let the law reflect this. Any action taken to the detriment of that American would be punishable by law.

Until then, let the moralistic whining cease. Stop pandering to the electorate. Contrary to the popular sentiment, we legislate morality all the time. It's against the law to kill, rape, steal, swindle; aren't those moral issues?

So, fine, lay your cards on the table. Pin it down. But beware the principle of unintended consequences. If a pregnant mother is arrested, could the fetus' attorney sue for false imprisonment? If a woman has a miscarriage, is she liable for manslaughter?

Change the law or shut up already.

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