|A Publication of the Republican National Coalition for Life||March/April 2001 - No. 38|
The Future is Now
By William Kristol
There will always be sophists and scientists, and humanitarians who will explain why any particular "advance" shouldn't be stopped, or can't be stopped, or isn't fundamentally different from previous steps we have taken. And it's of course true that the lines aren't as bright as one would like between medical gene therapy and eugenics, between scientific experimentation and exploitation, between a better human world and a new inhuman world. But to fail to draw lines is passively to submit to a scientific revolution in genetics and biotechnology that threatens our liberty and our dignity.
Over half a century ago, C.S. Lewis saw it coming. In The Abolition of Man, Lewis explained what "Man's conquest of Nature really means and especially the final stage in the conquest, which, perhaps, is not far off":
[W]hat we call Man's power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument. . . . [T]he man-moulders of the new age will be armed with the powers of an omnicompetent state and an irresistible scientific technique: we shall get at last a race of conditioners who really can cut out posterity in what shape they please. . . . It is not that they are bad men. They are not men at all. . . . [T]hey have stepped into the void. Nor are their subjects necessarily unhappy men. They are not men at all: they are artifacts. Man's final conquest has proved to be the abolition of Man.
Before this prospect, before this possibility, every other issue pales not into insignificance, for many other issues are significant, but at least into lesser significance. The challenge of the scientific revolution in genetics and biotechnology, of scientific "progress" loosed from natural, human, or religious moorings, is the challenge we face. Isn't it time to start drawing lines?
This article is reprinted with permission of The Weekly Standard, where it first appeared on February 12, 2001. For more information on subscribing to The Weekly Standard please call 1-800-283-2014 or visit the website www.weeklystandard.com.
A few news items from the first month of 2001:
The February 6 edition of The Washington Times said, "Clearly the cloning issue has attracted public attention and there is widespread public sentiment to ban this practice." "Now is the time to act, before the public grows accustomed to the thought of therapeutic cloning and inevitability of custom engineered human embryos. Once the common sense of the masses is dulled, it will become increasingly difficult to muster the political will to reverse the current trend . . ."
"Among other ideas, eugenicists have proposed (a) the cloning of organ donors who would be mutilated or destroyed [killed] for the benefit of others, (b) the genetic creation of a human-animal hybrid [chimera] race, (c) the custom design of specialized human beings with gene sequences that make them better suited for combat situations or dangerous environments, (d) the design of a genetically superior’ super-race, (e) the elimination of genetically distinct groups of human beings who are genetically inferior’ . . ."
The issues at hand are far too important to be left to the confines of obscure academic journals that have no binding force on the eugenicists’ grand schemes for reshaping humanity."
David Reardon, director of the Elliot Institute, in a January 29 press release.
Every time I see the phrase, "the fertilized egg then implants in the uterus," I'm tempted to tear my hair out. I fully understand why pro-abortion people use this phraseology. But it is beyond my comprehension to understand why so many pro-life people repeat these words. I'm sure the pro-life people who do this mean well, but they must understand that they're helping the pro-abortion movement when they continue to repeat this kind of biologic nonsense.
First, let's review our physiology. Conception (fertilization) consists of the union of sperm and ovum. The penetration of the ovum by the sperm, the integration and finally the beginning of the first cell division encompasses approximately twenty-four hours. The medical name for this single cell stage is zygote. Then cell division occurs and, by the end of the first week, this tiny new human consists of several hundred cells. During that first week of life, this new human floats freely down the mother's tube and, when one week old, give or take a day or two, this new living human implants within the nutrient lining of the womb.
Understand what implants not the single cell fertilized egg, but a blastocyst, a developing human that is several hundred cells at this stage. The fertilized egg does not implant. When it reaches the womb, it is not a single cell, and if it still was, it could not implant. Only a one-week-old living human embryo can implant.
Why does the pro-abortion industry continually speak of fertilized eggs implanting? They say it with something of a sneer. Whoever heard of a fertilized egg being a "full human"? The very words "fertilized egg" do not conjure up in anyone's mind the full human being that this new biologic entity in fact is. Rest assured, semantically speaking, they know exactly what they are doing when they continue to speak of fertilized eggs. It's much easier to kill, to obliterate, and to destroy a fertilized egg than a living human embryo. They will continue to use "fertilized egg." We have to stop using it.
What is the proper terminology for a pro-life person? The proper terminology should demonstrate and speak to what this new biologic entity is. The proper words are "living human embryo." Let's remember, it's easier to kill a fertilized egg than a one-week-old living human embryo.
Some speak of pre-embryos, but this is just a politically correct bit of jargon whose sole purpose is to dehumanize this living human in his or her first week of life. A pre-embryo consists of several million eager sperm swimming after one ovum, but when one of them connects and fertilizes the ovum, this is no longer a pre-embryo; this is now an embryo. And after the first cell stage, the proper term to use is "embryo." After fertilization, there is no such entity as a pre-embryo.
So let's make a New Year's resolution. Let's, please God, have every pro-life person immediately quit talking about fertilized eggs implanting. This is a biologic impossibility and, in fact, it is rather subtle pro-abortion propaganda. Let's use the proper word - "a one-week-old living human embryo."
Reprinted from the February 2001 Life Issues Connector, a publication of Life Issues Institute.
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