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 May 2015
Universal:
That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbours who suffer, especially the sick and the poor.
Evangelization: That Mary's intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be ready to proclaim Jesus.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Politics & Policy

ISIS, IRAN, OBAMACARE: President Obama's legacy - very slim indeed! Watch

Image of A very nonplussed looking president, indeed.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

United States President Barack Obama will be out of office shortly. How will historians judge him? Not too well, according to New York Post columnist John Podhoretz. "After the failure of the Arab Spring, the collapse of Libya, the failure to act on his ... continue reading


CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE? Hillary Clinton had 'Leadership, Ownership, Stewardship' of Libyan policy 'from start to finish' Watch

Image of State Department Director of Policy and Planning Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama at the U.S.-ASEAN meeting in Cambodia on Nov. 20, 2012.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

According to one of her top aides, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had "leadership/ownership/stewardship of this country's Libya policy from start to finish." That claim came in an email written by one of Clinton's top aides. The message was forwarded ... continue reading


All for naught? FBI admits that Patriot Act didn't lead to cracking major terrorist cases Watch

Image of Opponents, with the inspector general conclude that no major cases have been broken by use of the Patriot Act's records-snooping provisions.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It granted the Federal Bureau of Investigation bold new powers - but now the FBI admits that the Patriot Act didn't help them crack any major terrorism cases. The Justice Department's Inspector general Michael E. Horowitz now says there are issues that keep key ... continue reading


Karl Rove's American Crossroads no longer as powerful as it once was Watch

Image of American Crossroads began by Karl Rove and other powerful Republicans were at one time a most powerful force in American politics.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

American Crossroads, created by Karl Rove and other powerful Republicans, was at one time a most powerful force in American politics. There is evidence, however, that this is changing. The American political landscape is changing, and the group is seeing the ... continue reading


Disappointing Congress: Both the right and the left ladle out heavy disapproval for Congress Watch

Image of Republicans at 36 percent are about as likely as Democrats at 38 percent or independents at 38 percent to say Congress is accomplishing less than they expected.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Even republicans have very little good to say about the republican-led Congress. Just 23 percent of Americans say congressional Republicans are keeping the promises they made during last fall's campaign. The vast majority, at 65 percent say they are not. LOS ... continue reading


ENROLLMENT ZERO: No one signs up for Obamacare in Hawaii - NO ONE Watch

Image of Suppose they gave universal health care - and no one came?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Suppose they gave universal health care - and no one came? That appears to be the case in Hawaii, where Hawaii's Obamacare Exchange enrolled a grand total of ZERO - simply no one, people during its special enrollment period. While Hawaii's enrollment was a ... continue reading


ANOTHER LIE: Hillary Clinton's email scandal grows Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Hillary Clinton is caught in another lie regarding her private email account usage. According to the New York Times, Clinton used more than one private account while serving as secretary of state. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The news of another private email ... continue reading


President Obama seeks to end immigration enforcement on part of local police Watch

Image of President Obama hoped to rebut the notion that he is insensitive to the plight of police officers on the front lines.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama, while in Camden, New Jersey, said that in order for local police to rebuild trust within their communities, immigration enforcement must be taken away from state and local police and remain strictly the domain of federal law enforcement. ... continue reading


The Clintons have earned WHOPPING $25 million to deliver speeches since last year Watch

Image of Hillary Clinton has made $3.2 million from the tech sector. One of her last speaking gigs on the paid lecture circuit; she addressed an eBay summit aimed at promoting women in the workplace. Her 20-minute chat garnered a $315,000 check.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former first family, the Clintons, at one time claimed they were broke. If so, this was before last year, when both Bill and Hillary delivered 104 speeches for a total of $25 million. Hillary Clinton is especially popular with high-tech firms, who eagerly shell ... continue reading


President Obama cracks down on military equipment for U.S. law enforcement Watch

Image of Making his announcement in Camden, New Jersey, the president praised efforts by the police department to improve their relationship with a poor community struggling with violence.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

U.S. President Barack Obama gave law enforcement a dressing down this week - literally. Obama has placed new restrictions on the amount of combat-style equipment local law enforcement can use. The gesture is intended to smooth over relations with racial ... 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

Reading 1, Sirach 35:1-12
1 One who keeps the Law multiplies offerings; one who ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 50:5-6, 7-8, 14, 23
5 'Gather to me my faithful, who sealed my covenant ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 10:28-31
28 Peter took this up. 'Look,' he said to him, 'we ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 26th, 2015 Image

St. Philip Neri
May 26: If one had to choose one saint who showed the humorous side of ... 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