Monday, February 11, 2008

Stem Cell Research: It's not Religion Versus Science

The University of Nebraska Medical Center tells the Omaha World-Herald that it is primarily Catholic groups that have a problem with destroying human embryos for research. The OWH keeps reporting it as fact rather than the opinion of people trying to hide from the scientific and ethical arguments against their position.

Quoting Greg Schleppenbach of the Nebraska Catholic Conference on this issue is fine, but the OWH should call Dave Bydalek at Family First or Al Riskowski at Family Research Council for a comment. They are "equal partners" in the effort to ban cloning in Nebraska, as are the Nebraska Coalition for Ethical Research, Nebraskans United for Life, and Nebraska Right to Life.

The Catholic thing is a talking point from the other side to try to cast the debate as religion versus science.

Yes, the Catholic Church has taken a strong position on the issue. Check out the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism on stem cell research. Google "Jewish" and "stem cell" and see what you find.

The two UNMC researchers working with embryonic stem cells are Jewish. One made reference to his Jewish faith in a Lincoln Journal Star feature. As a state senator, I was lobbied by the Nebraska chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women on these issues.

Are future OWH stories and editorials going to talk about Jewish groups leading the fight for embryo-destructive research?

Imagine if I submitted something to the OWH saying: "You realize that it’s the JEWS who are for this; it's the Jewish pro-choice agenda masquerading as science." This debate is contentious enough without dragging in ugly appeals to religious bigotry.

Yet through news stories and op-ed columns, the OWH regularly lets UNMC and Nebraskans for Research convey the message: "You realize that it’s the CATHOLICS who are against this." Sandy Goodman can't get through a statement without asserting that opposition to destruction of embryos is nothing more than the Catholic pro-life agenda masquerading as science.

(I wonder if he got the word that even the cloner of Dolly the sheep says the superior scientific approach to stem cell research is to forget about cloning and destroying embryos.)

I imagine there are Jews who think it's wrong to destroy embryos for research. I guarantee you there are Catholics who think it's fine. There are scientists and people of faith on both sides of this debate. The OWH should reflect that in its coverage.

1 comment:

OmaSteak said...

While I support your positions on this issue in general, I sometimes wonder about unilaterally imposing a complete ban on reproductive cloning. Let's say I am unmarried and have a spare $10-20 million. I want a "child" who is a cloned copy of myself. Who better to raise "me" than the original me? I know what interests to emphasize and would have the resources available to ensure "me" gets all the benefits available. Plus since I'd pass along 100% of my estate to "me", there would be no government claiming a "me2" would have a huge leg up on the competition. What gives government the right to remove that opportunity for me? Plus, if it isn't available here, I'll just go elsewhere that reproductive cloning will be available. Cloning is like nuclear fission/fusion, once the knowledge is available, people will use it. I maintain there is nothing inherently immoral on what I choose to do with my own DNA.