- - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The federal government thinks it would be a really good idea to approve of and spend taxpayer money to create — wait for it — animal-human hybrids, commonly known as chimeras.

The word “chimera” is from the Greek world of mythology introducing a monster that was part goat, snake and lion. For modern humans, our issue is not the creation of a monster by the gods, but the unethical and reckless manipulation of animals by people who think they’re gods.

After implementing a moratorium instituted last year so they could study the “ethical implications,” the National Institutes of Health apparently decided there were none and announced it was lifting the ban on research funds for projects involving injecting human stem cells into animal embryos.

This step is fundamentally different from what science has been doing up to this point. The New York Times explains, “Researchers have long been putting human cells into animals — like pieces of human tumors in mice to test drugs that might destroy the tumors — but stem cell research is fundamentally different. The stem cells are put into developing embryos where they can become any cells, like those in organs, blood and bone.”

That includes brain cells. In other words, these stem cells we inject could develop into brain cells, producing an animal with a fundamentally different cognitive experience.

Our only concern shouldn’t be about what an animal with a more human brain would do; our outrage should be that we’re considering doing this to the helpless and voiceless at all. It’s about abuse imposed on creatures, condemning them to unfathomable suffering because of our own egotistical self-obsession. Ultimately, as Bill Clinton might say, we’re doing it because we can.

As imagined, researchers are thrilled with this decision as it means a new money train filled with taxpayer dollars will be roaring into research academies everywhere. Government, after all, has become a chimera all its own — part skunk, part vulture and part grifter.

National Public Radio found a professor of bioethics and philosophy at Case Western Reserve University who assures us, “I will say though that this [is] research that has to be monitored very closely institutionally by oversight committees. They’ll never allow a chimeric animal to roam the Earth and leave the laboratory.”

Oversight committees. That phrase should increase our concern. This is not about a brand-new creature roaming around where it may rudely interrupt our picnic. It’s a question about animal welfare and suffering, and where do we, as the supposed civilized ones, draw the line?

This larger ethical argument is significant in itself, yet this goes beyond the philosophical question for private society. Here the issue is the federal government funding this research at the NIH, its parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services and, inevitably, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all having their hands smashed into a monstrous chimera pie of money and control.

Medical research is an imperative. I’m on Team Humanity, but that’s only worth something when we know we aren’t violating the most obvious requirement of human decency at the foundation of medical ethics — the very basic concept of doing no harm. Can we find cures and expand our knowledge of human health and quality of life without becoming monsters ourselves?

Of course we can. With freedom we are always faced with a choice of what we can do and what we should do. Very often the two are different; choosing to take the moral route is what makes us civilized.

For many of us, defending the voiceless is also what makes us conservatives. Our argument is that the individual does not need big government to tell us how to live our lives; we are decent and moral enough to govern ourselves. This manifests partly by standing up for those who have no voice at all. In this case, the animal kingdom is constantly at the mercy of humanity, and we must step up as the voice for those that have none.

Recent successes of public pressure and animal rights activists include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey ending the use of elephants in its circuses, and SeaWorld agreeing to end captive breeding of killer whales.

Spending, of course, is also what big government does. It exists, so it must spend. This from a government bureaucracy that complains it doesn’t have enough money to keep a veterans suicide hotline operating at the Department of Veterans Affairs, but has just been revealed as having 167 interior designers on staff.

The Daily Caller reports, “The designers’ salaries are not included in recent findings that the VA has spent $16 million on art during the Obama administration. At least a dozen individual pieces of art cost a quarter-million dollars or more each. Nearly $700,000 was spent on two sculptures at a hospital for blind veterans, the Palo Alto Polytrauma and Blind Rehabilitation Center.”

Funding the moral obscenity of animal-human hybrids with your tax dollars can still be stopped. This plan, as The New York Times reminds us, is meant to “most likely go into effect in the fall — perhaps with some modifications — there is a 30-day comment period that is now open to the public and researchers” at the Federal Register. Hopefully they’ll hear from enough of us to rethink going over this cliff.

Tammy Bruce, author and Fox News contributor, is a radio talk show host.

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