Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Doug Kmiec

3/18/2009 (6 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

To avoid cooperating with an intrinsic evil, this trembling hand is not to take hold of any medicine or participate in any medical treatment advanced by research involving the destruction of a human embryo.

Highlights

By Doug Kmiec

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/18/2009 (6 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy


MALIBU, California (Catholic Online) - Like millions of Americans, I suffer from Parkinson's disease. On some days it's worse than others. Sometimes, like now, my fingers refuse to press the keys -- at least the ones I need. On other days, colleagues or my students see me stumble and think me early into the pints, but thankfully, available medication still largely controls my bodily movements. Over time, however, all Parkinson's patients know that after a short span the medication fails and we also know what that means. We have uncomfortably witnessed our future in the lives of longer suffering brothers and sisters met in neurology waiting rooms. So you would think that when President Obama, for whom it was my privilege to campaign, gives permission for embryonic stem cell research that some say holds a Parkinson's cure that I would be grateful and encouraged.

Yet, I am not. While I believe the President's desire to separate science and politics is well considered, there can be no separation from ethics, even as that immediately begs the question: whose ethics?

The President's announcement was not without some ethical limit. Following almost verbatim the recommendation of the National Academies of Science (NAS), Obama articulated that his policy would "never open the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction." At the same time, the President indicated that stem cells derived from what scientists call somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), which some respected Catholic ethicists view as the exact equivalent of cloning, will now be eligible for federal funding in order to assist in ascertaining a cure for Parkinson's and other serious ailments, like cancer, heart disease, and spinal cord injury.

Again, the distinction the President drew between cloning for reproduction and cloning for medical research is one that had been recommended to the government over seven years ago by the NAS. However, in the Catholic tradition which sees the objective truth of the human person beginning with the formation of the pre-implantation human embryo that is a distinction without an ethical difference. As Cardinal Rigali succinctly observed: "vulnerable human beings cannot be treated as mere products to be harvested."

There is the rub: the NAS, the President, a host of other religious traditions, understand life and personhood to be associated with a later point. For these Americans, there is no ethical dilemma to be confronted. The great promise of embryonic stem cell research to our brothers and sisters who differ from us on when life begins seems wholly motivated by love of neighbor and, as the President said, "the care of human suffering." This is especially so to the extent that the President's new policy does not contemplate creating new embryos for the sole purpose of scientific research but putting to use so-called "surplus" embryos created by couples pursuing in vitro fertilization (IVF). However, the Church has recently re-stated its categorical prohibition of IVF, too, so even utilizing that which would otherwise be discarded by the larger society, for Catholics only multiplies the ethical offense and increases the Catholic burden in public debate.

What can be done now? Our faith enjoins upon us the effort to protect life even incrementally, if we are unable to do so fully. The President's stem cell announcement indicates that administrative regulation is now to be drafted to guide the research. It is incumbent upon the leadership of the church and Catholics in the medical and scientific professions to participate in that process. At a minimum, one would think it would be possible for there to be a preference given for the use of adult stem cells which goes none of the ethical problems associated with the destruction of an embryo.

Of course, in terms of our own moral integrity that is likely not enough. To avoid cooperating with an intrinsic evil, this trembling hand is not to take hold of any medicine or participate in any medical treatment advanced by research involving the destruction of a human embryo. Easier said than done - or by me, even written down. But then, in this Easter time we are reminded that we belong to a Church where the very son of God allowed himself to be put to death so that others might live.

****

Douglas W. Kmiec is the Caruso Family Chair & Professor of Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University School of Law and the author of "Can a Catholic Support Him? Asking the Big Question About Barack Obama" (Overlook/Penguin 2008)

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Ivana Trump hotly denies that ex-husband Donald Trump ever raped her Watch

Image of Ivana Trump, the former wife of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has denied claims that he ever raped her.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Ivana Trump, the former wife of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has denied claims that he ever raped her. "I have recently read some comments attributed to me from nearly 30 years ago at a time of very high tension during my divorce from Donald. The story is ... continue reading


HILLARY LIED! Inspector General says personal emails contained classified information Watch

Image of Only allowed to review a sample of 40 out of the total of 30,000 emails from Hillary Clinton's private email server, four of those emails contained classified information.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Hillary Clinton's personal email account "contained classified information when they were generated," "remain classified today" and "should never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system." Those are the findings of the U.S. Intelligence ... continue reading


GLOVES ARE OFF: Donald Trump denounces Bush, Walker and Clinton as being beholden to donors Watch

Image of Speaking east of Des Moines, Donald Trump was most concise in his attack upon Walker. Criticizing the Wisconsin governor's handling of his state's economy, Trump accused him of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

At a "free-wheeling" press conference, GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump says he is putting no cap into the money he is going to pour into his campaign. A self-made billionaire in real estate, Trump denounced Republican candidates Jeb Bush and Scott ... continue reading


Nuns vs. Obama: Obama Administration refuses to exempt Little Sisters of the Poor from regulation forcing them to distribute birth control Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The national debate over the Affordable Care Act is heating up. A Romantic Catholic group of nuns, who manage a nursing home around the world called the Little Sisters of the Poor, continue their fight against the law's debatable contraceptive mandate. MUNTINLUPA, ... continue reading


Millions upon Millions of United Kingdom aid money funneled to the Clintons Watch

Image of The Clinton Health Access Initiative spends its funds on improving the treatment of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in the developing world, such as in Africa and Southeast Asia.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Influential people, falling sway to a former United States president - and his wife, with eyes on the White House, it was learned that tens of millions of pounds of United Kingdom aid money has been siphoned through charities linked to Hillary Clinton. LOS ... continue reading


Displeased with 'attack' editorial, Donald Trump bars Iowa newspaper from campaign event Watch

Image of It was yet another gutsy move from the billionaire real estate tycoon, which may alienate some - as well as win new friends.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was yet another gutsy move from the billionaire real estate tycoon, which may alienate some - as well as win new friends. Displeased with an editorial published in the Des Moines Register, asking him to withdraw from the 2016 presidential race, Donald Trump ... continue reading


FLAT-OUT LIE: Ted Cruz says fellow Republican Mitch McConnell lied about Export-Import Bank Watch

Image of The denouncement was a highly unusual one, even if Ted Cruz has made no effort to disguise the fact that he has called out his fellow Republicans for wrongdoing.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Well-known for his reputation fieriness, Ted Cruz took to the Senate floor last week and said that Mitch McConnell told a "lie." The Texan lawmaker accused the Senate majority leader of deceiving him and the rest of the GOP conference over McConnell's plans for ... continue reading


Destroying the Competition: Will Donald Trump launch a third-party candidacy? Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Donald Trump has made numerous headlines during his campaign, so far. He has received criticsm from both the Republicans and the Democrats; it can even be said that the Republican party is "shooing" Trump away, making him an outsider. Is this the smartest move for ... continue reading


Donald Trump's Trump Card and reasons why he will be the next president Watch

Image of

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online

Donald Trump is a man you either love or hate, depending on your views of how the country should be run. Regardless of how people feel about the man and his commentary, there are some compelling reasons to believe he will become the next president of the ... continue reading


Senators call for investigation into the harvest of aborted baby organs Watch

Image of Planned Parenthood doctor Mary Gatter said,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell has been called upon to investigate the Planned Parenthood Federation of America's "practice of harvesting the organs of unborn babies." Fifty U.S. senators, 49 Republicans and lone West Virginia Democrat Joe ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Gospel, John 11:19-27
19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 29th, 2015 Image

St. Martha
July 29: "Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus." This unique ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter