Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Ron Reagan, Jr. versus the Gospel of Life

Ramesh Ponnuru's NRO column starts off with a bang and then just gets better:

Ron Reagan junior's speech tonight was not nearly as contemptible as I had expected it to be. He didn't exploit his father's death or his family's suffering in the text of his remarks, although of course the mere fact of his speaking at the Democratic convention was exploitative enough. (He certainly was not picked for his excellence in delivering speeches.) The idea that his speech was not "political" or "partisan," as he put it, is probably not an insult to our intelligence; it is probably his speechwriter's insult to his.
Reagan's basic argument was that it would be cruel to deny sick people treatments because some people have "theological" objections to funding embryonic-stem-cell research. Other people will think it is cruel to run a political campaign that exaggerates the potential for this line of research to generate cures. Reagan said he wanted to "try and paint as simple a picture as I can while still doing justice to the incredible science involved." He failed to do that justice. The scenario he outlined — of medicine that would repair the brains of Parkinson's sufferers, of "your own personal biological repair kit standing by at the hospital" — is generally considered unlikely. To say that it could bring "the greatest medical breakthrough in our or any lifetime" is to show that no real attempt was made at doing justice. Rep. Langevin's introductory remarks, in which he suggested that taxpayer subsidies would make him walk again, and implicitly also help others in his situation, was also unrealistic — and, to that extent, it was cruel and contemptible.
Go read the whole thing. Oh, and while you're at NRO, also check out Robert George's column too:
What was most shameful about it was his dishonesty in eliding the distinction between human embryonic stem cells and the human embryos that are deliberately killed in the process of stem-cell harvesting. After promising to "do justice to the science," Ron Reagan described the process of obtaining embryonic stem cells in a way that left out the fact that the cloning process he described creates a human embryo which is killed in order to harvest its stem cells. Ordinary listeners who are unfamiliar with cloning technology — and, by the way, Ron Reagan was careful not to use the word "cloning," though that is exactly what he was describing — would be left with the impression that the process generated embryonic stem cells without generating an embryo! Indeed, by ambiguously referring to "these cells," in order to avoid revealing the fact that the cloning process generates a living human embryo which is then deliberately killed, Ron Reagan no doubt left some people with the impression that opponents of embryonic-stem-cell research consider embryonic stem cells, rather than the human embryos from which they are harvested, to be human beings. But this is the very reverse of the truth. No one believes that stem cells — embryonic or otherwise — are human beings. Those of us who oppose embryonic-stem-cell harvesting object to the practice because it necessarily involves the killing of human embryos. And human embryos are nothing other than human beings in the embryonic stage of their natural development. Ron Reagan refuses to face up to this fact.


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