In his address to the nation on stem-cell research, President Bush acknowledged that research in such fields as human cloning and embryonic stem cells has the potential to save lives, but, as he explained:
I strongly oppose human cloning, as do most Americans. We recoil at the idea of growing human beings for spare body parts, or creating life for our convenience. And while we must devote enormous energy to conquering disease, it is equally important that we pay attention to the moral concerns raised by the new frontier of human embryo stem cell research. Even the most noble ends do not justify any means.
My position on these issues is shaped by deeply held beliefs. I'm a strong supporter of science and technology, and believe they have the potential for incredible good -- to improve lives, to save life, to conquer disease. Research offers hope that millions of our loved ones may be cured of a disease and rid of their suffering. I have friends whose children suffer from juvenile diabetes. Nancy Reagan has written me about President Reagan's struggle with Alzheimer's. My own family has confronted the tragedy of childhood leukemia. And, like all Americans, I have great hope for cures.
I also believe human life is a sacred gift from our Creator. I worry about a culture that devalues life, and believe as your President I have an important obligation to foster and encourage respect for life in America and throughout the world.
This implication that supporters of this sort of research – such as ourselves – are part of a “culture that devalues [human] life”, is unfair as well as false. In reality, our (Western) culture values human life more than any other that has ever existed. The controversy here is not between those who value life and those who do not, but between rival conceptions of what ought to be thought of as a human being. And while there is room for considerable philosophical disagreement about this issue, no rational person can take the view that a collection of cells without a functioning brain is human in any moral sense whatsoever.
There are, unfortunately, cultures that really do devalue human life. Islamofascism is currently the most important of these. But it is a frightening fact that there is also an authentically Western cult of death that currently enjoys enormous support (including, ironically, from the very tradition to which President Bush belongs, and from which he bases his opposition to certain types of scientific research). Check this out (via InstaPundit):
it's a great shame that the field once known as medical ethics has degenerated into a coven of high profile bioethicists set on finding the best way to prevent new medicines from saving lives
Hyperbole, perhaps. But the underlying point is true: there is widespread, principled opposition to scientific research intended to defeat, or even significantly to postpone, ageing and death.