Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Doug Kmiec

3/18/2009 (7 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 (7 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'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2016
Universal:
Small Farmers: That small farmers may receive a just reward for their precious labor.
Evangelization: African Christians: That Christians in Africa may give witness to love and faith in Jesus Christ amid political-religious conflicts.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

EXCLUSIVE - America, King of Propaganda: U.S. government spends billions to spew LIES to the American people. And guess what you foolish Americans, Congress made it all perfectly legal without your vote Watch

Image of

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Have we won the ground war in Afghanistan? According to the government reports and the media, we sure have. However, this is not what one whistleblower has said, warning as early as 2012 that the American people are being deceived by the government. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


'He deserves what he gets:' Latino youths violently protest Donald Trump in Orange County Watch

Image of Trump protestors broke out in a violent riot during his Orange County rally (Reuters).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Thousands attended Donald Trump's Orange County rally - then broke out in violent protest. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Trump rally in Costa Mesa's Orange County Amphitheater was overflowing with supporters. There were several supporters who couldn't fit ... continue reading


New White House rules leave religious groups open to government abuse Watch

Image of Religious groups question the government's new regulations (Shutterstock).

By Kevin J. Jones (CNA/EWTN News)

The Obama administration's new rule for faith-based partnerships has drawn various reactions: one observer warned they could cause problems for partnering religious groups, while another said the action also strengthens these groups' protections against government ... continue reading


Bill De Blasio's ongoing investigation scandal fails to stop him from new fundraising efforts Watch

Image of Mayor Bill de Blasio won't talk - but his staff will (Wikipedia).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's closest aides have been issued subpoenas to aid the investigation into his shady fundraising strategies. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The scandal surrounding de Blasio's fundraising has made headlines since 2014, when a leaked ... continue reading


Trump delivers first foreign policy speech, and sounds like a president should! (FULL TEXT) Watch

Image of Donald Trump's first full foreign policy speech sounded relatively presidential, and while short of specifics, was still worth listening to.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Donald Trump delivered his first full speech on foreign policy and he sounded fairly presidential while doing so. Trump is not a politician by trade, but he may make an excellent president thanks to his extensive business acumen. Trump is on the path to the Republican ... continue reading


The olive branch and the barb: Clinton vs. Trump Watch

Image of Trump and Clinton came out on top (Shutterstock).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The race for the presidential nominee has been full of surprises as history-making events, claims of foul play, dirty dealings and controversial statements have cropped up in abundance. Candidates have, at times, been caught up in a tight race, but Tuesday's primary ... continue reading


Trump will be president! Real estate mogul outpacing Romney by whopping 25 percent Watch

Image of Mitt Romney was friendly with Trump when he needed a campaign donation.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Donald Trump is on track to win both the primary and the election, according to the numbers. He is on a better trajectory than Mitt Romney was in 2008. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, while winning her primary, is losing support. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - ... continue reading


Desperate Cruz and Kasich agree to stop competing, will focus on Trump Watch

Image of Cruz and Kasich are teaming up to block Trump, but their chances of success are slim.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Ted Cruz and John Kasich have teamed up to block Donald Trump from winning the Republican nomination. The rivals have agreed to divide upcoming primary states, so they can efficiently spend resources attacking Trump instead of each other. LOS ANGELES, CA (California ... continue reading


Public Bathrooms: Private and safe facilities or free-for-alls? Watch

Image of Apparently, gender-confused children can use whichever restroom they want - without adult supervision to ensure the safety of either gender within the confines of a bathroom (David Bro/ZUMA).

By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Men with bad motives or who live dissolute lifestyles have always been potential sexual threats to women - and now women have been pushed further into their corners as "transgender rights" rise to prominence as the newest notion of the sexual revolution. These rights ... continue reading


'We are in a race against time:' 175 nations sign landmark climate accord Watch

Image of World powers finally agree to make a move to fight climate change (Shutterstock).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

World leaders have finally realized the destruction they have been allowing the planet to endure - and the ensuing consequences. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A shocking number of 175 global leaders gathered at the United Nations headquarters to sign the Paris ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
1 Then some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, 'Unless ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
2 Then the earth will acknowledge your ways, and all nations your power ... Read More

Gospel, John 14:23-29
23 Jesus replied: Anyone who loves me will keep my word, and my Father ... Read More

Reading 2, Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
10 In the spirit, he carried me to the top of a very high mountain, and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 1st, 2016 Image

St. Marculf
May 1: Marculf is also known as Marcoul. He was born at ... Read More