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May 19, 2006|
Q: When is an Embryo Not an Embryo? |
A: When Senators Santorum and Specter Say So?
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), an ardent advocate of legal abortion as well as scientific research that requires the killing of human embryos, and Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), who is considered a pro-life leader in the U.S. Senate, have joined forces to promote embryonic stem cell research. Together, they have called for federal (taxpayer) funding of research that would involve creation of disabled human embryos embryos designed to be incapable of developing the tissues that form the placenta, which is necessary for his/her survival in the womb. (For an excellent explanation, see "Definition of the Embryo: Time to Be Clear, Very Clear," by Jaydee Hanson, Human Events, May 11, 2006 http://www.humaneventsonline.com/article.php?id=14746).
Until now, Senator Santorum has been opposed to stem cell research involving the killing of human embryos. The concept of "altered nuclear transfer" or "oocyte assisted reprogramming" (ANT-OAR) is the brainchild of William B. Hurlbut, M.D. a member of the President's Council on Bioethics, who sees it as a morally acceptable means of obtaining embryonic stem cells without involving an actual human embryo. The idea was included in the Council's 2005 Report. The plan involves taking stem cells from an embryo rendered unable to develop normally, rather than from a healthy embryo that must be killed.
Bioethicist Jaydee Hanson, the author of the above-mentioned Human Events article, told the Philadelphia Inquirer, (5/7/06) that making "defective embryos" is no solution. "Simply redefining something as 'not an embryo' doesn't make it not an embryo."
Inquirer staff writers Marie McCullough and Carrie Budoff reported that the collaboration between the two senators comes at a crucial time for Santorum, who is in a tough reelection race for a third term against the likely Democratic nominee, State Treasurer Bob Casey, Jr., the son of the late pro-life Governor of Pennsylvania, Bob Casey. "By teaming with Specter, Santorum could gain leverage on an issue with particular appeal to voters in Southeastern Pennsylvania, a politically moderate, must-win area.
When is an embryo not an embryo? Jaydee Hanson reminds the reader of the old Latin adage "Festine lente" meaning hasten slowly. "Debate and clarify again and again until it is all very clear and the layman understands it. Then the citizens will know what is at stake. At this stage very few have any idea of the momentous nature of what is potentially contained in these bills."
"The right-to-life community, along with some liberal/progressive groups, has long championed the opposition to both human cloning and human genetic engineering that makes an object of a human person. It would be ironic if their support for ANT-OAR ended up with a redefining of the human embryo and a redesigning of the human species. Such is the danger. Festine lente."
For Senators Specter and Santorum to link arms in pursuit of legislation that would fund experiments on stem cells taken from disabled human embryos is chilling.
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