The New Frankensteins
By Deacon Keith A Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
In an article displayed prominently in the New York Times on Feb. 11, 2003, entitled "Scientists Create Human Embryos Through Cloning" Gina Kolata, a reporter, wrote that: "Scientists in South Korea report that they have created human embryos through cloning and extracted embryonic stem cells, the universal cells that hold great promise for medical research."
Here we go again!
The "New Frankensteins" of our age will not stop their ghoulish pursuits. By promising absolutely unfounded medical "advances" they attempt to justify the "manufacture" of human embryonic life for its destruction in the "extracting" of parts. Every time stem cells are "extracted" (Oh, the sterile sounding language of the culture of death and use) a human embryo is killed.
It was not that long ago that the headlines generated by the bizarre claims of the Raelian sect filled the newspapers for the second time reading "Second Clone Born to a Lesbian Couple."
Since writing my first piece on this subject (which was posted on numerous "blogs" and resultantly picked up widely) I have received numerous inquiries concerning my thoughts on both the Raelians and ongoing attempts at cloning. One writer for a Catholic newspaper wrote to me to express the sentiment that he "enjoyed my commentary on the subject" and wanted my "reaction to the reactions" concerning the first cloning claim of this group.
This article is another response to this endless effort because I know that the reactions to this relentless pursuit of power over creation, life and death, needs to be carefully examined so that the common good can be protected, promoted and advanced at a critical time in the history of our civilization.
Though I have been mildly encouraged by the swift and largely negative reaction to the first "announcement" of the manufacture of a human being through "cloning", I fear that the apparently "bogus" scientific claims of embryonic cloning will be believed simply in their repetition by so called "medical and scientific experts" like those reported on in the Times piece.
This will only provide "cover" for the real moves at manufacturing some "brave, new world" by "master scientists" who are hell-bent on proceeding with this dangerous experimentation (we call it "technology" now) that always leads to the destruction of a human person. If we do not honestly face the underlying issues now - there is a huge move underway to push us culturally down the road to a new barbarism disguised as enlightened living. It must not remain unopposed.
The Raellians and their leader are overtly bizarre and the world is rightly recognizing that they are -to say the least-out of 'the mainstream." However, what is revealed (in an almost comic book caricature) in the "messianic" claims of their leader named "Rael" and his following, is a "worldview" and "anthropology" that is endemic to much of contemporary western culture.
This worldview and anthropology informs the framework for many other false ideologies, movements and psycho-spiritual groups in our current age. Perhaps even more frightening, it lays a philosophical foundation for the efforts of many of the new "barbarians", who unlike the barbarians of old with their unkempt appearance and behavior, now carry briefcases, wear designer suits and white medical coats, pound gavels in courtrooms, teach in our Universities, and hold public office.
What is at risk is that the fundamental tenet of Western Civilization itself - the dignity of every human person no matter what age, stage, size, color, or functionality and the inalienable human rights that are their endowment and form the very basis for all claims to any "civil rights". In short, civilization is now at risk. I fear that this bigger issue will be lost in the re-packaging of the most ancient of errors revealed in this new abuse of science.
I remember the night I saw the representative of Clonaids' (The company owned by the Raelians that is allegedly carrying out such clandestine new Frankenstein experiments) biggest competitor on television. He protested the actions of the Raelian group with an aura of feigned concern for the child that would be the "product" of cloning. He looked in the camera and had the audacity to inform the viewers that the technology is here already to "harvest" stem cells from embryos but that is not yet far enough along and therefore it would not be "moral" or right to raise a "defective" child!
We must stop to consider what this man actually said! He told the whole world that it is perfectly legitimate to use this "technology" (sounds so sanitized doesn't it?) to manufacture a tiny human embryo in order to destroy it for parts, but wrong to allow that embryo to grow and become a "defective". The specter of the now universally repudiated horrific National Socialist experiments on the humans they considered "defectives" jumped out of that T.V. set! This analogy should be clear to anyone with ears to hear- but was probably lost to many who watched!
After all many of those living in the contemporary age, like the proverbial frog in the pot, have allowed the waters of the public rhetoric to boil them to death. How long have we heard the language of the new social, cultural, political, legal and scientific engineers as if it was accurate? We now speak of freedom as a power to do what we choose- not necessarily to do what is right. We do not like to either speak or hear talk of what is "right".
In a new "abortion state/ politically correct" culture, even some of our pundits speak of children in the womb as "products of conception". It makes it "easier" to justify scraping them out of their first home when they are "inconvenient" and calling it a "right" when we all know it is wrong.
We love the word "choose" and have lost the paramount framework for how we are to exercise our choices, by conforming them to what is true and with regard - always- to our obligations in solidarity to one another. Those obligations include a special obligation to those who are "poor" (economically, relationally or politically) and those who have no voice.
Now with this new "technology" we are developing other phrases behind which we will hide our perfidy if we do not rise up and rightly make this horrid practice universally illegal.
Last year, I was invited months ago to "discuss" the issue of "Stem Cell Research" at a local College that has a "Center" for religious freedom on campus. The letter was nice and complimented my work. They said they wanted the "conservative" Catholic position that I represent present on the panel. I wrote back and said that I did not believe the use of words like "conservative" and "liberal" had much bearing on this issue. I then received initial literature for the event where I encountered the term "pre-embryo". I declined the "invitation" because I knew that I was being tokenized. That same institution later had me back to discuss "beginning of life" issues. When the moderator spoke of children in the womb as "potential human life" I responded that there was no such thing, we are all humans with potential.
Of course, as a lawyer, I am particularly cognizant of the way that medical science and the law can combine to promote and protect the "culture of death" and the utilitarianism of the age. I have fought for over three decades for the dignity of life, the primacy of family, authentic human and religious freedom and solidarity. I must. After all, I believe that lawyers helped unleash the current "culture of death" and "civilization of use" through the abuse of political office (most elected representatives are lawyers) and the abuse of the Court system.
Unfortunately, the horror continues to be propelled, as lawyers (and others) continue supporting unjust decisions such as the now clearly wrongly decided Roe v. Wade decision. It is wrong in its purported reliance on "science", wrong in its rendition of western history, based on an admitted fraud in the initiation of the action and definitely represents the worst abuse of jurisprudence since the infamous "Dred Scott" decision. Actually, it is not much different. Both decisions consigned an entire class of persons to be status of property to be used by those who exercise raw power over them. By "creating" out of whole cloth a "right" to kill our progeny and then giving it "constitutional" protection, we unleashed this new "culture of death" and "civilization of use".
All too often it is lawyers who defend the rebirth of the dangerous philosophical premise and the profane and circuitous reasoning that has laid the groundwork for our current cultural morass. The "freedom of choice" rhetoric of the modern American culture is eerily like that revealed in the now infamous "Life Unworthy of Life" book that was co-authored by a lawyer and a medical doctor in the years preceding the rise of the National Socialist party in Germany. Its rhetoric (such as the phrase "useless eaters") and its profane utilitarian reasoning propped up the "science" of experimentation that thrived at the height of the Nazi horrors.
There are questions we MUST ask ourselves in the time we now live in-what one editorialist opined is the new "clone age" The "Raelians" cloning claim was simply a fire alarm. Even if it is now viewed as a hoax, it opened our eyes. These new frankensteins in Korea are no different. They are "manufacturing" human embryonic life for experimentation that always leads to the destruction of life. The claim is that the "part" extracted can help another. First of all, it is bad science, second of all it is always and everywhere immoral..
Some time back, on behalf of "Your Catholic Voice" and "Common Good" I appeared at a press conference with an alliance of others to place the full support of "Common Good" behind passage of the Senate Bill # 1899 entitled the "Brownback-Landrieu Human Cloning Prohibition Act."
What we gathered to support together was more than a piece of legislation, it was to affirm the foundation of western civilization. Unfortunately, the legislation stalled. Hopefully, it will be re-introduced and become law. What it concerns involves the future of freedom itself. It involves how we understand, serve and promote the common good. The protection of the dignity of every human person is the great human rights struggle of our age and of every age.
To "manufacture" human life for the purpose of intentionally destroying it through experimentation is always and everywhere wrong. It is intrinsically immoral, unethical and must be made illegal. Human embryonic life deserves full legal protection not destruction. Human embryos are persons not property and to paraphrase the words of the ancient Christian creed, they are "begotten not made".
We must learn from the horrors of the eugenics movement of the last century (the bloodiest in human history) that the end does not justify the means. We have passed this way before. We have witnessed the bad fruit of a counterfeit notion of "freedom" as a raw power over others. We have witnessed the blight of promised "advances" wherein entire groups of people were relegated to second class status and a "culture of death" prevailed over a "culture of life".
The stench and smoke of the ovens of the twentieth century still rise from the memories of the horrid concentration camps. That horror must never escape our collective memory. Nor should the shameful images of the bullwhips, the shackles and the gallows ever fade. The dark shadow of human slavery still rears its ugly head even in our day.
Justice still cries out against the raw abuse of power over an entire class of people who were deemed to have no human rights, treated as human "chattel", and enslaved because of the color of their skin. We must learn from our past as we build for our future. We must outlaw the "use" of a new class of persons - those who have no voice because they are hidden in the womb or, in this instance, manufactured in a test tube - by a new class of oppressors who treat human lives as a product for experimentation.
We must reaffirm our bedrock commitment to the dignity and sanctity of every human life, no matter how young or old; no matter whether in the womb or outside its once safe refuge; no matter how elderly or infirmed; no matter what color, race or creed or age or stage of the spectrum of continuing growth that is the wonder of human life! One of my colleagues at that press conference, a brilliant, erudite and dedicated Classical reformed theologian and Presbyterian pastor, Edwin Elliott, referred to the new victim class as "petri dish people."
It is always and everywhere wrong to take innocent human life - even if a potential good is promised. There must be no unwanted humans. If "wanted-ness" becomes the criteria for personhood and legal protection, it is the poor, the elderly and those without a voice who are the next in line. The ability for any person to survive without the need of help from others cannot become the criteria for "humanness" either; to do so will end civilization, as we know it.
We are made for one another and we are our brother's keeper.
Human embryonic life must not be allowed to ever be manufactured, "harvested" or cloned in order to intentionally destroy that life. This is the inevitable result of all cloning. To do so always kills a human person. There are other morally legitimate and scientifically justified efforts underway that can explore the legitimate promise of stem cell research and the promise of medical advances.
The "distinction" made between "reproductive" cloning and so called "therapeutic" cloning is the proverbial "distinction without a difference". The procedure begins in the same way as that used in adult DNA cloning. The resultant human embryo "manufactured" is then only allowed to live for about 14 days. Then its stem cells are extracted and made to grow into a piece of human tissue or a complete human organ, purportedly for use by another human, though even this claim is unsubstantiated. Of course the "extraction" results in the killing of the human embryo - for parts.
The practice is rooted in a philosophy that understands "freedom" as a raw power over others and a science that has lost its way. It reflects an understanding of the human person (anthropology) that is at opposite poles of western civilizations bedrock notion of the dignity of every human person. It makes persons property and products and leads to the inevitable commodification of life. The new ruling class will apparently decide whose bodies are to be used for parts, by determining who is more or less valuable.
This mad rush to medical madness can only be deterred through legislation on the National and International level. Only a complete ban on this practice will suffice. That is now the only way to stop the "New Frankensteins."
Then, the underlying problems that have allowed it to arise in our age must truly be addressed for the sake of the common good.
Keith Fournier is a married Roman Catholic Deacon, who also serves the Melkite Greek Catholic Church with approval. He is a human rights lawyer and a graduate of the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University, Franciscan University of Steubenville and the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Law. He is a co-founder of the Your Catholic Voice Movement and also the founder of Common Good.
http://www.catholic.org VA, US
Deacon Keith Fournier - Editor, 757 546-9580
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