Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Doug Kmiec

3/18/2009 (5 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 (5 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'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Obama's right, he has issued fewer executive orders than his predecessors, BUT... Watch

Image of Obama signs a bill while on vacation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What's in a name? President Obama has ruled more from his desk, without the consent of Congress, more than any other president, but liberals are right to point out that these are not "executive actions" and don't count against his tally compared to other presidents. ... continue reading


Federal judge warned: Don't interfere with Obama's plan for deportation amnesty Watch

Image of U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reforms during a visit to Casa Azafran in Nashville,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In unusually strong language, the Obama administration warned a federal judge to stay out of the debate over President Obama's deportation amnesty. "Federal courts sit to decide cases and controversies, not to resolve disagreements about policy or politics," ... continue reading


Rick Santorum Seems Poised to Launch a 2016 Presidential Campaign Watch

Image of Rick Santorum

By Keith A. Fournier

I don't think I've met a 'suit' yet. It's very much heart of America, average Americans who have found a place where they see someone who will stand up and fight for them. If the Republican Party has a future - and I sometimes question if it does - it's in middle ... continue reading


You should be outraged! While Obama distracted you with a government shutdown, look what Senate Democrats snuck into this bill! Watch

Image of The White House has just received unprecedented surveillance powers thanks to an amendment to the Intelligence Authorization Act for the 2015 fiscal year.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Overshadowed by the potential government shutdown and funding vote in the House, another bill was passed this week by Congress, one with much more sinister, and flagrantly un-American, goals. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Congress passed a bill that gives a ... continue reading


What are they covering up? White House attempts to delay CIA torture probe Watch

Image of Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday reportedly called Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, to tell her that the report's release should be delayed.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

A Senate report, years in the making, which accuses the Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA of using banned torture techniques while evading oversight may never be released, According to Bloomberg, there have been ongoing efforts by the White House efforts to ... continue reading


Landmark pregnancy discrimination case heard by Supreme Court Watch

Image of Depending on the high court's ruling, companies may be required to afford mothers-to-be the same

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A landmark case involving the rights of expectant mothers in the workplace was heard by the Supreme Court this week. Depending on the high court's ruling, companies may be required to afford mothers-to-be the same "reasonable accommodation" as they would ... continue reading


17 states REBEL against Obama, join lawsuit over immigration scandal Watch

Image of 17 states have banded together to sue Obama over his illegal action to refuse to enforce immigration reform, hoping the courts will block his attempts at providing amnesty to 5 million illegal immigrants.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Seventeen states have allied together in order to sue President Obama's administration, citing the president's disregard for constitutional limits to presidential power, and refused to fulfill his obligation to enforce U.S. laws when he attempted to dismiss ... continue reading


A distinct euphemism: Health care reform was 'political miscalculation,' Schumer says Watch

Image of When the Democratic Party focused in exclusion to all else, on health care, he added,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

One apt euphemism - which is essentially a nice term very a not-at-all-nice term, is the phrase, "Economical with the truth," i.e. lying. Senator Charles Schumer of New York, in summarizing the massive loss by democrats in elections earlier this month, said ... continue reading


The man behind the mess of Obamacare wants you to encourage abortion! Watch

Image of John Gruber, the man behind Obamacare, is an ardent supporter of abortion.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The architect of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), John Gruber, has made a fool of President Obama and the Democrats in his administration once again. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Gruber has been recorded numerous times admitting that the ACA was written and ... continue reading


Should Obama be able to use the IRS as a weapon to target conservative opponents? Watch

Image of President Obama has used the IRS as a weapon to target Tea Party and conservative opponents.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It should come as a surprise to no one that fraud and power abuse is rampant in President Obama's White House, and the new scandal fall on the heals of the old IRS tax scandals of the last few years. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Treasury Inspector ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 18th, 2014 Image

St. Rufus
December 18: Rufus and Zosimus were citizens of Antioch (or perhaps Philippi) ... 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