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Concerning embryonic stem cell research.

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 right choice.

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.

President Bush-

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 manipulating

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 too late).

                    Sincerely,

                    Travis Kidd, Jr., M.D.

Unfortunately, President Bush chose not to say "no" and has opened Pandora’s 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

so, Joe.

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

which...

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

with you?

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 President’s decision and I’ve 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 President’s 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 moral expense.
  • 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 God’s 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 Keyes.

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 president.

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?

 

8-21-01

Addendum:
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 leaders. 

Excellent Jane Chastain commentary, echoing much of the above with additional details-  "Unintended consequences of Bush’s stem-cell
decision"
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=24134

 

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