Friday, May 27, 2005

The Dumbest Argument For Expanding
Embryonic Stem-Cell Research

With all of the arguments going back and forth among the pundits and politicians regarding the expansion of federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, the dumbest justification I've heard yet is this:

"If we don't increase funding for stem-cell research, we'll fall behind other countries!"

Of course, this begs the question of whether or not embryonic stem-cell research is good or bad. If something is intrinsically evil, do we really want to be "leaders" in it? If destroying human embryos in order to extract their stem-cells is killing innocent human beings, do we really want to be in the forefront of such wanton slaughter?

Let's try a little thought experiment. Imagine it's say, 1939. Dr. Mengele and his colleagues are just gearing up some interesting medical research in Germany. Of course, one distasteful aspect of this research is that it involves live human beings, but hey, progress comes at a price. Those in the forefront of science can't afford to be squeamish. Imagine doctors and scientists in the U.S. start demanding to be allowed similar experiments on our own "undesirables". Their rallying cry: "We have to have our own live-experimentation program, or else we'll fall behind the Germans in science! We want Americans to make the first breakthroughs in live experiments!"

Such an argument would have been condemned practically before it was uttered then. But it is actually given a serious hearing today. Thus far have we have fallen, not just morally, but intellectually as well.