06/20/2005: A Better Idea...
Not on Faith Alone by Mario Cuomo is a very good piece on the Stem Cell Research debate with a proposed idea for a better “concensus” to define the “life” beginnings of this clump of cells and not suffering the narrow dictates of a single individual’s personal religious views:
"…But our pluralistic political system adopts rights that arise out of consensus, not the dictates of religious orthodoxy; and if such rights are adopted - approving abortions or financing stem cell research on leftover embryos - they will be the law of the land, even if religious dissenters, through their tax dollars, end up helping to pay for things that they find anathema. Every day Americans who abhor the death penalty, contraceptives, abortions and war are required to pay taxes used in part for purposes they consider offensive. That is part of the price we pay for this uniquely successful democracy.
So far neither Mr. Bush nor religious believers have convinced a majority of Americans that the use of embryonic stem cells inevitably entails the murder of a human being. Most Americans, vividly aware of the millions of tragic victims of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancer and spinal cord injuries, believe that embryonic stem cell research may provide cures. They will demand that Congress act to realize that potential.
If the president vetoes a bill that advances that potential, he will have to provide more than sincere religiosity to prove that human life exists as early as fertilization, a proposition that even the Roman Catholic Church and other religions have historically disputed.
The best way to test that proposition would be to employ a panel of respected scientists, humanists and religious leaders to consider testimony from bioscience experts describing when consciousness first appears, when viability outside the womb usually occurs, and how other religions treat the subject. They would then provide their conclusions to lawmakers.
Such a panel, the Task Force on Life and the Law, has been operating effectively in New York since 1985, devising public policy to address issues like euthanasia, the definition of death, surrogacy births, the withholding and withdrawing of life-sustaining treatment, reproductive technology and other difficult questions generated by rapid advances in medical technology. The panel's decisions on the definition of death, do-not-resuscitate orders and organ and tissue transplants were all adopted by the Legislature.
If indeed such a panel confirms that Dr. Marburger is right and science cannot supply the proof that human life starts at conception, then the president's position is based only on his particular religious faith. If so, the president would be wrong to deny the rest of America that does not share his faith the vast potential benefits of embryonic stem cells.”
Karen on 06.20.05 @ 05:55 AM CST