Wednesday, March 30, 2005
[I received these comments from a MOJ reader--and thought other MOJ readers would be interested in them. -mp]
I followed your link to Senator/Ambassador Danforth's piece.
While interesting I would also argue that it is at times intellectually
He writes: "It is not evident to many of us that cells in a petri
dish are equivalent to identifiable people suffering from terrible
diseases. I am and have always been pro-life. But the only explanation
for legislators comparing cells in a petri dish to babies in the womb
is the extension of religious doctrine into statutory law."
I wonder how Senator Danforth understood his work on the behalf of
the unborn and against abortion. Why was this not an "extension of
religious doctrine into statutory law"? And if it was not that, what
was it? What makes working against embryonic stem-cell research
religious but working against abortion non-religious? I, for one,
think advocating against abortion and the intentional destruction of
embryos (in petri dishes, test tubes, or where ever they may be) is of
one piece and that piece is not a religious one. That is
the arguments against both abortion and embryonic stem-cell research
are grounded in secular, rational reasons. Put another way, reason
demands that we refrain from abortion and from embryonic stem-cell
Now I will grant two things. First, many people of good will
don't see the argument against embryonic stem-cell research. Second,
many, nay most, of those arguing against such research are religious.
Yet it does not follow from this that 1) the argument against such
research is wrong and 2) that the reasons for prohibiting such research
There are other problems with the op-ed but I do think he
misapprehends the arguments against embryonic stem-cell research and
does so in a way that would call into question the justification for
his own work against abortion.