We must work for progress in truly ethical biotechnologies and medical therapies that honor and affirm the value, worth, and dignity of every individual member of the human community. And we must speak expressly for those at the "edges of life" who have no voice.
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Sadly, the view that every human life has value and should be treated with dignity is no longer upheld in some realms of today's culture. How have so many strayed from such a fundamental belief?
For example, we see this in the area of medicine. The tradition of medicine has moved away from a covenant between physician and patient based on the Hippocratic oath of "first do no harm." Medical students today are unfamiliar with what this long-standing commitment says because most medical schools have eliminated it altogether, or have stripped it down to an unrecognizable oath of polite niceties.
In its place, a philosophy of utilitarian bioethics has emerged which fails to recognize the dignity of every human life at every age and stage. Alleging they are seeking to do the "greatest good for the greatest number", some medical and policy professionals have asserted the authority to determine whose life has value and whose life does not.
Some lives are defined as not worth living at all, others are classified as more valuable if sacrificed for those deemed to be of "greater value." Individuals with special needs become expendable as they need justification to receive scarce healthcare resources
We now live in a time where matters of life and death really are being decided for us. While these may seem like remote concepts -- matters appropriate for academics, physicians and lawyers - how we view the most vulnerable of our fellow humans actually affects us all.
Some experience this reality more directly than others, like our family. First, with the loss of our son Gabriel, and then later with the birth of our daughter Isabella who has a severe genetic disorder.
Deliberations in the ivory towers and decisions in the halls of Congress matter to life and death issues. Policies and ideas really do trickle down to everyday families as they struggle making ethical end-of -life decisions while caring for elderly parents, or navigate the social support network while trying to find much needed services for a child with special needs.
A recent University of Montreal study found that despite the dire warning health care providers give to families with children born with the genetic disorder Trisomy 13, their parents reported overwhelmingly that their lives were happy and rewarding despite the challenges and short life spans of their child.
Notably, their child was happy, too, in their short life. The families interviewed for the study, published in Pediatrics, reported that they felt the medical professionals too often viewed their disabled children in terms of a diagnosis and not as a unique baby.
We can learn from these families. It is in the home where we understand and appreciate the value of the individual person. It is the family, the community, and the body of faithful believers who bear witness to the exceptional dignity of the lives of every one of our loved ones.
And so we recognize the importance of bioethics with a foundation that values and protects every human being. We need those without a mistaken "greatest good for the greatest number" calculus to stand in the gap.
We must work for rigorous and fact-based science - and for progress in truly ethical biotechnologies and medical therapies that honor and affirm the value, worth, and dignity of every individual member of the human community.
And we must speak expressly for those at the "edges of life" who have no voice. And among those who need a voice more than ever are the unborn.
Throughout Rick's career in public service we have supported legislation and initiatives that support scientific research without destroying human life.
That is why we are proudly working on the Give Cures campaign with The John Paul II Stem Cell Research Institute ("JP2SRI"). JP2SRI is a non-profit organization with a mission to create faster and more streamlined processes in regenerative medicine research. This institute recognizes the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death.
The Institute does not support or conduct human embryonic stem cell research and does not perform therapeutic cloning or somatic cell nuclear transfer. The Institute has created a new research model to accelerate the process to find ethical treatments and cures.
It uses a variety of adult stem cells - and induced pluripotent stem cells obtained from adult stem cells - to find cures and therapies. Its research respects the dignity of every human life. The truth is that great science is being conducted in the field of bioethics that affirms the dignity of life. It further affirms life by targeting help to those in need-from those fighting disease to the disabled.
We also proudly work with crisis pregnancy centers around the country who put their hands and feet to the march for life to get their message out that young girls and women are not alone and have real options in bringing a beautiful new life into the world. The support is there for people who want to affirm life. You can find your closest pregnancy crisis center to volunteer and support them here.
Planned Parenthood facilities deceptively advertise online as Crisis Pregnancy Centers - while at the same time they - and other abortion proponents - sue authentic Crisis Pregnancy Centers. They are trying to force them to "warn" women that they don't provide abortion services.
It is up to us to be a voice and a practical support to truly life affirming Crisis Pregnancy Centers. We must aid them in their critical and heroic efforts to help women and save babies.
As we travelled around the country, we met parents affirming life outside of the spotlight day in and day out. We witnessed compassionate healthcare professionals, families, and caregivers affirm life in their everyday work.
We saw the affirmation of life from those assisting in crisis pregnancy centers, caretakers assisting the disabled as if they were their own child, and those assisting the elderly nearing the end of their precious life.
These are the voices and lives that inspire us. These are the heroes and voices which we need to lift up in America. It is our honor to stand with these heroes who dedicate their lives to affirming the dignity of every human life.
Rick Santorum is a former Republican candidate for President, former Congressman and Senator from Pennsylvania - and champion of the fundamental human right to life. He and his wife Karen, also a pro-life champion, are the co-founders of Patriot Voices, a grassroots organization committed to fighting for faith, family, freedom & opportunity in America.
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