Concerning embryonic stem cell
During the previous months of the Bush administration, these pages have been relatively
quiet when it came to our new president. Christian leaders all over this nation helped
elect President Bush and have led us to believe that a vote for him was the
Tonight, he very cautiously approached and chose incorrectly to allow limited funding
of embryonic stem cell research.
Please do not consider this as simply words of complaint, made without voicing concern
in these quiet pages during the weeks of debate on this issue. Here is a copy of an email
sent to President G.W. Bush, July 12, 2001 by this author.
I have spent countless hours practicing medicine, some in research and many more
studying the ethical pros and cons of abortion, squared with the Bible as our standard. My
mother has multiple sclerosis, is a quadriplegic, and there is ongoing active MS research
using stem cells with potential therapeutic gain.
As simplistic as it may seem, in what many try to make into a complicated decision, I
have concluded that we don't have any business creating or using embryos that are not to
be given the greatest opportunity to be implanted and to survive. Anything else is a means
to an selfish end. As Christians, we are to be servants, not to be served, giving no room
for such selfish decisions.
Stem cells are available in the adult bone marrow. Placentas are a fantastic resource
where they are more numerous than those available in a small embryo. Of course, placentas
are routinely discarded. It would clearly be more difficult to obtain these cells from
these other sources but the yield may well be much higher in the long run.
No matter what anyone says, with some time and a lack of embryonic stem cells
available, these other sources will become utilized by researchers. By saying
"no" to embryonic stem cell research you will not put an end to stem cell
research. It may actually intensify the efforts to obtain the cells from other sources
that lack the moral connotations and may also benefit medicine in ways we do not yet see.
From an ethical, moral standpoint, we must realize that we cannot make life. We are
God's creation to theoretically improve our lives. Let us give Him the benefit of the
doubt and avoid the possibility of awakening His jealous nature and judgment upon
ourselves. Otherwise our theoretical gains will be offset by our Lord's displeasure and
subsequent judgment and pain. We simply have no need to go down this road when we have
alternative sources of these cells. We will sleep better knowing that we did not
contribute to the narcissistic destruction of a human life for our own benefit.
My mother may well benefit from stem cells. If ever used, I will do my best to assure
that these were obtained from legitimate sources and not from embryos.
As a corollary to saying "no", you may want to increase financing of research
using cells from these other sources. This would make the transition from what research
that has been done with embryonic stem cells to be duplicated much quicker from the
non-controversial sources. In addition, this would trump the political nature of this
debate with the other side running for cover.
In practicing medicine, there is a saying that has great truth- keep it simple, stupid.
Don't be mislead by those intent on complicating lives with ethical traps. They are
double-minded men who lack understanding and foresight. Why would anyone cave in to their
wishes? Choose the high ground and we all will benefit, with God's blessings (if it is not
Travis Kidd, Jr., M.D.
Unfortunately, President Bush chose not to say "no" and has
opened Pandoras box, something even President Clinton chose not to do. So, what
then, is our Christian leaders now saying?
The Rev. Jerry Falwell said the following just before the announcement was made on The
Point with Greta van Susteren on CNN:
...VAN SUSTEREN: Rev, Falwell, do you agree?
REV. JERRY FALWELL, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY
CHANCELLOR: I find myself in total agreement with
Pope John Paul II on this issue. And I find myself in
agreement with Father Drinan on a reasoned and
seasoned debate on the issue. I haven't heard the
president say yet that he is compromising it. Until I
hear him say it, I still keep praying and hoping it ain't
VAN SUSTEREN: What does that mean, Reverend, if
we are correct in saying that there will be limited
federal funding of this research on stem cell, is that
something that would you not oppose?
FALWELL: Well, I want to hear first what the
definition of limited funding is on limited embryos
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me tell you what I understand it
to be, that the embryos that would be discarded would
now instead be used for stem cell research. Is that OK
FALWELL: Here is my concern. My primary concern,
not the only one, and that is that we create a new
industry. It's very hard to get the genie back in the
bottle once it's allowed out. And once we begin this
there will be a tremendous demand for
embryos/babies. And once there is a demand in this
country in a free enterprise, there will be a supply.
I can see very much, I can see some very bad things
happening; that is the production of embryos just for
the purpose of meeting unlimited demands. At the same
time, I want to hear what the president has to say
before I give judgment, but I do want to say, I believe
the president to be a man of great moral values and I
thank God for him.
And I will stand with him regardless, but I hope there
is no compromise.
After the announcement, on another news show, the Rev. Falwell said I
agree with the Presidents decision and Ive never been prouder of him.
May we ask, just how can we claim allegiance to God above all when, before the
announcement we should claim that we will stand with Bush "regardless"
of a decision that displeases our God? How many Christians have incorrectly equated
Republicans with godly standards? Sudanese Christians would not make such a mistake.
I hope he reconsiders.
In our Presidents address, he said: "I have
concluded that we should allow federal funds to be used for research on these existing
stem cell lines, where the life-and-death decision
has already been made."
Let us consider the implications of utilizing the few cell lines that
our president has considered in bounds.
- In the paraphrased words of a molecular biologist who is a proponent of embryonic stem
cell research on a news show this evening-even though it did not go far enough, at
least we got our foot in the door.
- President Bush is appropriately unwilling to make this life and death decision. The
reasoning that the 60 cell lines are already available for the use will not violate his
campaign promise and reiteration tonight that he will not cause embryonic life to be
taken, is flawed.
He would not disagree that these cell lines were initially started by violation of the
morals he espouses. The decision had been made by others in the past. As they had made
such a decision when it is unethical, they have suddenly been rewarded for their weak
moral choices by our president. Those who own the cell lines in existence now own a
precious commodity for federally funded research. Bush has invented a demand as
well as a limited supply, greatly rewarding their unethical behavior. Prices to
laboratories owning the cell line will reflect payment of blood
money by NIH grants in order to obtain these particular cells. We have therefore
enriched those who Bush feels have made unethical decisions.
As an example, is this not similar to the person who will not ever rob anyone but who
enriches the robber by purchasing the stolen goods, even though they knew the goods were
stolen? Once again, it is rewarding those who choose evil.
In addition, this is again, tyranny. If we are compelled to pay taxes to a government
that sponsors things that we feel is immoral, this is the pinnacle of tyranny, according
to our founding fathers- and true today as well.
- Suppose we find some benefit from this research. If this should happen (even
though we would have similar results of nonembryonic stem cell research as we learn how to
manipulate other types of stem cells), we have allowed ourselves to become more dependent
on embryonic stem cells in order to perform the beneficial function. When
the cell lines die out, as may occur, and oftentimes does occur even though they are
'immortalized', do we give up the benefit or do we give up our limitation to these 60 cell
lines. It seems there will be an outcry to open up other cell lines that had been
procured under what our president considers unethical means. We will
become dependent on new embryonic sources for new stem cell lines.
- If there are benefits, what happens when we find that certain characteristics of a
couple of cell lines are 'needed' to get the maximum benefit, if only there was
another single cell line with both genetic characteristics? There will be a search
for an appropriate embryo to come up with the right combination, at the embryo's and our
- If we must decide in the future whether to go to additional embryos for our increasing
appetite for cells we may utilize, we have magnified the moral decision of today.
If, supposing, we decide appropriately at that time to not sacrifice other embryos, we
will be further behind where we could have been at harvesting and using stem cells from
other sources, making our dependence to immoral sources even more intense, and causing
pain and suffering of those who lack the therapeutic resources due to the more difficult
moral decision. We have blown an opportunity to advance in the correct manner.
Even Dr. James Dobson has fallen prey to this mistake (at least temporarily). On Larry
King Live this evening, he said:
JAMES DOBSON, FOUNDER & PRESIDENT,
FOCUS ON THE FAMILY: Well, Larry, I didn't think
it was going to be likely that I would come out of this
evening agreeing with Christopher and Mary, but there
is a lot here that I can agree with. And I give the
president's decision generally a thumbs-up. There are
still some aspects to it that we want to look at, but I
think he found a good solution for this stage.
KING: So you're saying, Dr. Dobson, he has appealed
to both sides on this issue?
DOBSON: Amazingly, I think he has. From our
perspective, he didn't call for federal funds to be
expended to take human life, to kill those little
embryos. That was our great concern. That had us in
prayer this afternoon, frankly, 1,300 of us
Even though the president touched on one of the points made in the email above, he
weakly made the stand. If he would have steered clear of this fence-walking decision, he
would have done well to increase funding (therefore rewarding good choices) to non
embryonic stem cell research and standing firmly against embryonic stem cell research.
With this approach, he would have speeded up the ethical gains from legitimate sources
avoiding pitfalls that invite Gods judgment upon us.
Although Dobson and Falwell are not all of our Protestant Christian
leaders, they told us to vote for Bush. Now they tell us he chose well, even
though Bill Clinton would not have been allowed to get away with a similar decision. Our
country took another large step into an immoral abyss this evening. Where was the outcry?
From some Catholic representatives who are right on this decision, thank you. From Alan
It is no wonder our country is so confused. Christian 'leaders' should not be
confused or sending confusing, incorrect messages that invite God's wrath and lead to
further poor choices in the future.
addendum (8-11-01): Folks, the principle we have claimed has been breached.
We willingly choose to be complicit with those who failed to recognize that life
begins at conception, which we have claimed. They will profit from this decision
even though they choose to harvest stem cells from embryos. We, too, become guilty
when we compromise in an affront to God and His values. We violate these supposedly
immoral principles and wonder why Christianity in America suffers. Our hypocrisy is
exposed to the non-believing world when we could have set appropriate principles, please
our Lord and affect those perishing. This was a litmus test to test our principles.
American Christians failed with few exceptions.
President looked to Christian 'leaders' to help shape his decision. He made a
decision that was allowed by us and disappoints God, not so much that Bush did it
but that His people agreed with it. There would have been an outcry if Clinton made
the same speech and decision, as there should be here. Pray for our leaders, they
obviously need it, especially the Christian 'leaders'.
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
President Bush Takes a Position on Stem Cell Research
Aired August 9, 2001 - 22:00 ET
SCHNEIDER: We are finding that the president's decision was very much in line with
public opinion, even though he said polls had nothing to do with it. Most Americans do
support research on embryos created fertility clinics, but unused to develop babies. The
president said yes to that but only if the embryos were previously created. The public is
going to have to think about that.
Most do not support research on embryos created in the laboratory and the president
opposes that. Very few people support research using embryos created by cloning. The
president was totally opposed to that. This was a tough decision for the president, and it
is a tough decision for the American public. Most
Americans believe that research using human embryos, is morally wrong (54%, according to a
CNN poll shown at the time of this statement), but an even larger majority, you see here
69 percent, also believe that it is medically necessary.
Medical in necessity in this case overrides the moral qualms, as it did with the
Of course, it is not a medical necessity anyway, despite what some
scientists may believe. Christian leaders, this should send chills up your spine.
Most Americans feel that using human embryos is morally wrong but still approve of
using them. The ends justify the means, endorsed by some of our Christian 'leaders'
as well! Just who is around to remind us that this is not acceptable? Who is
speaking for God? Who is acclimating to evil in the society around them?
It is an interesting list of those who agree with our president's decision and those
leaders who are taking him to task for this error. In addition to the ones mentioned
above, of course Pat Robertson supports this decision. Chuck Colson also chose
wrong. The National Right to Life Committee also supports it (partially funded by
the Republican Party). Is there a pattern here? Those most involved in
political activism chose to accept wrong to maintain a seat at the table.
Ken Connor of the Family Research Council did a great job of exposing this
decision for what it is. If he makes any error, it is that he then soft-peddles his
criticism by tossing this into a mish-mash of other issues, implying that we can agree
with someone 80% of the time and that is good enough. Sorry, when it comes to life
and death issues (God's values), we must insist on 100% compliance.
Gary Bauer, Alan Keyes, Howard Phillips and others nail it on the head.
Thank God for them.
Some have likened the decision to King Solomon's wisdom and his way of
finding out who the real mother is between 2 claiming the child as their own. This
shows either a lack of understanding of the scriptures or willful misapplication of this
example. If we really want to find a parallel in the scriptures to President Bush's
decision, we have no further to look than to Pilate washing his hands of Jesus Christ's
crucifixion. Life hung in the balance and both Bush and Pilate pretended to have
nothing to do with an immoral decision. Solomon was much too wise to make such a
mistake and would not have killed the child anyway...
Folks, it is not the purpose of these pages to criticize those who have
done much good and are trying to do well. This is written as a wake up call to those
who may be receptive to the truth and maybe will help fix our current inability to affect
our neighbors, perhaps leading to salvation. Pray for all Christians, especially our
Excellent Jane Chastain commentary, echoing much of the above with
additional details- "Unintended consequences of Bushs stem-cell
Copyright,© 2001, Dio, Inc.