- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 9, 2000

As one of the last memorials to his presidency, President Clinton is promoting the destruction of human embryos for scientific purposes. Yes, there was controversy, he admitted at a press conference about the new federal guidelines for the use of the fertilized eggs, but the research could produce "potentially staggering benefits." Besides, he said, Health and Human Services Director Donna Shalala said it's ethical, so it must be.

Far from making the research methods more palatable to those who prefer to protect the lives of the unborn, the guidelines are a laughable attempt at ethics. In order to obtain the stem cells, the scientists have to destroy the human embryo in the process. The regulations "resolve" this unpleasantness by making sure the donors know that they are contributing embryos that will not survive the procedure of extracting the cell and that certain cells could be kept alive to be placed in a human body. (Donors, read the small print on that waiver.) They also detail that federal funds cannot actually be used to destroy the embryos; this would be done by a privately funded middle man. This is splitting hairs. The real, "potentially staggering" results of this government-approved process is the callous destruction of human life.

Scientists have poor responses to their critics. It can't be dismemberment, they say, since the embryo is only one week old and too small to have real limbs. Besides, they say in a Washington Post report, last month British scientists were allowed to create cloned human embryos as long as they'd be destroyed within two weeks, when nerve cells appear.

To U.S. scientists who need the white coats on the other side of the Atlantic to tell them what their ethics should be, they should be reminded that the United States has been able to think for itself for 224 years. To those currently in or vying for the executive office who rely on Miss Shalala to be an ethics guru, there is a desperate need for more accountability. American ethics have reached an all-time low when it is acceptable for a human life to be destroyed as long as it is too small to matter to anyone and as long as it cannot feel the pain.

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