- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 25, 2001

There was no mincing words in the conversation between Pope John Paul II and President Bush on Monday. The Holy Father aptly put the creation of human embryos for stem cell research on the level of infanticide. He urged the United States to "show a world the path to a truly human future in which man remains the master, not the product of his technology."
Administration officials hurried to find loopholes that could provide some support for the use of the embryos for research should Mr. Bush choose to fund it, calling the statement ambiguous. Quite the contrary. The pope warned that, "Experience is already showing how a tragic coarsening of consciences accompanies the assault on innocent human life in the womb, leading to accommodation and acquiescence in the face of other related evils," including, he said, "proposals for the creation for research purposes of human embryos."
Mr. Bush said he would consider this advice as he made his decision over whether to use taxpayer dollars for the use of the embryos for research. After all, he has many more voices demanding his consideration, including scientists who hope to use human embryonic stem cells to find cures for such diseases as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
So what of those human embryos that, scientists say, are bound to be discarded anyway? In these cases, scientists are arguing that the choice to terminate a life is dependent on whether the life is wanted or not. If the parents of the embryo approve, and if the embryo is destined for death anyway, why not destroy it? One might well argue that a terminally ill patient should be killed for his organs since he will die anyway, or that researchers should experiment on a fetus slated to be aborted, since it will be killed anyway. Federal law currently prohibits such experimentation of a soon-to-be-aborted child - and for good reason. This assigning of value to human life based on degree of desirability essentially reduces humans to commodities and the inherent worth of a goldfish, as Richard Doerflinger of the Conference of Catholic Bishops, brought to the attention of a Senate hearing on stem cell research on July 18.
Specialty clinics can already screen embryos that contain disease or disabilities. Genetic engineering specialists could make ordering up eye color, gender and IQ other screening factors in the future.
We should not have to return to the Nuremburg Code - established in the wake of the Nazis' human experiments to protect people from being used for research which could cause injury or death - to know that doing lethal harm to a fellow human, no matter how small, is wrong. Blessings to the pope for reminding Mr. Bush that life is not disposable.

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