- The Washington Times - Monday, January 20, 2003

A muddle of mortal consequence

"Congressional cloning continuum" (Editorial, Thursday) mirrors the muddle that many Americans find themselves in when trying to appraise and protect the value of nascent human life.
While the editorialist demurs on exactly when human life begins, the word "continuum" in the title offers a vital clue. Any honest student of biology will observe that human development is a seamless continuum from fertilization through birth.
Science, faith and technology complement each other on this issue. While many people of faith ground their belief in the sanctity of life in Scripture's revelation of God as our creator, such views have been reinforced visually in breathtaking detail by sonograms, Lennart Nilsson photographs, and now 4-D ultrasound videos. Embryology textbooks clearly teach that "human development begins at fertilization " and that "fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is formed ." If not then, when?
Lame assertions of a definitive break in the life continuum whether based on size, implantation in the womb, sentience or viability seem disingenuously designed to further political agendas, as are weaselly descriptions of human life such as "pre-embryo," "mass of cells" or "product of conception."
Even many who would countenance embryonic stem-cell research oppose human cloning research. President's Council on Bioethics member Charles Krauthammer, for example, fears that cloning would open the door to a Brave New World of human-animal hybrids and other future horrors, while inviting the immediate casualties of dead and gruesomely deformed human clone babies. Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist abhors the notion of creating a human embryo solely for lethal experimentation, and he cites ethical alternatives for overcoming tissue rejection.
Those who find their natural aversion to cloning mitigated by the enticement of speculated cures would do well to consider the wisdom expressed by Ronald Reagan: "Unless and until it can be proven that the unborn child is not a living entity, then its right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness must be protected."

Senior policy analyst
Christian Medical Association (Washington Bureau)

As an admirer of The Washington Times' editorial outlook, I am distressed by the editorial "Congressional cloning continuum." The very notion of debating over when human life begins is lamentable. That life begins at conception is an embryological fact. Embryologists are the ones who deal with the intricacies of what happens when sperm and egg unite. Consult any embryology textbook used at major medical schools in this country. You will find that they all attest that human life begins at the moment of conception. (There is an international panel called nomina embryologica that sets the norms for embryology textbooks. They concur that life begins at conception.)
It is time to address the truly fundamental question: Do we value human life from the moment of conception, or are we going to debate about when it's worthy of being valued?

Executive director
National Lutherans for Life
Nevada, Iowa

Free trade demands fair valuations

As a partner in the law firm that is counsel to the petitioner in the first Section 421 case, I have to take to task Dan Ikenson's "Bull in a China shop" (Commentary, Jan. 13). He is so wrong about so many facts about Section 421 of the Trade Act of 1974 that they can't all be addressed in a single page, but let's try.
He asserts that granting relief in the first Section 421 case "could undermine U.S.-China trade relations at a delicate stage of the ongoing World Trade Organization negotiations." But Section 421 was included in the agreements, giving China preferred trade status and WTO accession, because China could not implement all of its WTO obligations at once. It's not clear why granting relief under a provision agreed to by China should undermine U.S.-China trade relations, particularly when it involves less than 0.001 percent of total U.S. imports from China.
Mr. Ikenson erroneously states that Congress intended Section 421 to be used only in "extraordinary circumstances." The remedy is available whenever a surge in Chinese imports causes market disruption. As Rep. Sander M. Levin, Michigan Democrat, wrote to President Bush last month, "U.S. industries were concerned that given the large potential productive capacity of China's economy and the continuing distortions from state-owned enterprises and government interventions, imports from China were capable of quickly surging into the U.S. market at volumes and prices that would not be possible from market economies."
Mr. Ikenson argues that relief will hurt scooter consumers by raising prices. However, a vice president of Electric Mobility Corp., which imports the Chinese pedestal actuators, testified in court that EMC had not passed along savings to customers when it switched to the cheap Chinese product. While the switch may have helped EMC's profits, it didn't benefit the disabled. Besides, 10 other U.S. scooter producers that use U.S.-produced pedestal actuators often sell their scooters for less than EMC. (And, other U.S. companies can supply EMC with pedestal actuators.)
The president's decision will set an important precedent, but it's not the one Mr. Ikenson describes. The Bush administration has an ambitious trade agenda. Before supporting it, Americans will want to know whether all the provisions of trade agreements, including remedies such as Section 421, will be enforced. Granting relief sends a signal that the answer is "yes."

Stewart and Stewart

WHO cares about full funding for disease fighting

Retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf can be commended in calling for increased National Institutes of Health funding to deal with important domestic health needs ("Operation NIH funding," Op-Ed, Thursday). Unfortunately, insufficient funding for the World Health Organization and other U.N. agencies that improve human health abroad will have a far greater adverse effect on the health of Americans than insufficient NIH funding.
President Bush's pledge to the Global Fund to reduce HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and his proposal to fund a "Millennium Challenge Account" to address other global sustainable development programs that will improve human and environmental health abroad will be inadequate even if he is able to keep his promises.
Current budget shortfalls and proposed tax cuts will result in even less federal funding available to meet these human needs. Failing this, there won't be enough money in the world to protect the health of Americans.
Gen. Schwarzkopf could write the book on the dangers of not going all the way against obvious enemies. There is no greater enemy of humankind than infectious diseases.
The lethal, political, social and economic domestic consequences of global health problems are already high, and according to every indicator and U.S. government agency examining this threat, the threat continues to grow. Even Secretary of State Colin L. Powell recognizes HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases as a greater threat to our freedom and security than terrorism.
Unregulated globalization means more health threats coming to America if the underlying conditions of poverty, ignorance, war and environmental degradation abroad are not effectively prevented. The United Nations or some other international institutions will be key in this effort. More funding will be essential.

U. N. Association Council of Organizations

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