Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Human Cloning Is Now a Reality

Earlier this month, it appears that researchers in California “successfully” cloned human embryos that developed to the blastocyst stage before destroying them. Below are excerpts from the New York Times article, “Cloning Said to Yield Human Embryos” by Andrew Pollack (pub. 1/18/2008)

“Scientists at the company, Stemagen, which is based in San Diego, said Thursday that they were the first to use human adult cells to create cloned embryos that advanced to the stage known as a blastocyst, from which embryonic stem cells typically are extracted…

It is not clear whether the embryos would have been viable if implanted into a womb. Stemagen did not test whether the embryos had the correct number of chromosomes. But Dr. Wood, who also is a fertility doctor, said, ’We’ve seen reproductive blastocysts that look like this or worse and they implant.’”

I know many hoped this extremely dubious scientific achievement would prove impossible but we must face the reality of a world where human cloning is possible. Now more than ever, we need to stop this unethical research and ensure our tax money does not fund human cloning experiments in Missouri.

Important Volunteer Opportunity

As all of you are aware, Missourians will head to the polls a week from today and cast their ballots in the highly contested Presidential primary.

First, I want to urge each of you to vote on February 5th and encourage your friends and family to vote as well. This is a privilege and a responsibility all too few of us exercise. It is estimated that less than 20% of Missouri registered voters will cast a ballot next Tuesday

Clearly, those who DO vote Tuesday are people we want to reach with our message. We are organizing volunteers to distribute information cards to voters exiting the polls in various areas of our state.

Please click here to help share the truth about human cloning in Missouri on February 5th. A couple hours of your time can really make a difference!

Legal Challenge Update

There are two important events looming on the horizon. The first is a hearing regarding the Cures without Cloning ballot summary scheduled for this Thursday, January 31 at 1:30pm. Any issues not resolved on the 31st, will be taken up at the February 20th trial. We have a strong case and are confident the judge will provide us with a fair and accurate ballot summary. Please look for more information following these important dates.


Like many of you, we are watching the political developments in the wake of Matt Blunt’s announcement not to run for Governor. In the coming months, I believe there will be many opportunities for those of us who oppose human cloning to be heard and help shape the leadership of our state.

State of the Union Address

President Bush, in his final State of the Union address, emphasized the remarkable scientific progress that has been made recently.
"On matters of life and science, we must trust in the innovative spirit of medical researchers and empower them to discover new treatments while respecting moral boundaries. In November, we witnessed a landmark achievement when scientists discovered a way to reprogram adult skin cells to act like embryonic stem cells. This breakthrough has the potential to move us beyond the divisive debates of the past by extending the frontiers of medicine without the destruction of human life.

So we're expanding funding for this type of ethical medical research. And as we explore promising avenues of research, we must also ensure that all life is treated with the dignity it deserves. And so I call on Congress to pass legislation that bans unethical practices such as the buying, selling, patenting, or cloning of human life."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Guest Post - "When Technical Progress Becomes a Threat"

Today's guest post, "When Technical Progress Becomes a Threat," was written by Chelsea Zimmerman.


I have been reading Pope Benedict’s latest encyclical, Spe Salvi, which I am surprisingly enjoying (I wasn’t sure if it would be too philosophical and intellectual for me - I have never read anything of his before). It is actually very reader friendly and insightful. Anyway, at one point he is discussing the transformation of Christian faith-hope in the modern age (16-23) and a new era that has emerged through the discovery of America and the new technical achievements that made it possible. He calls it “faith in progress” as encouraged by the 16/17th century English philosopher Francis Bacon:

“through the interplay of science and praxis, totally new discoveries will follow, a totally new world will emerge, the kingdom of man…As the ideology of progress developed further, joy at visible advances in human potential remained a continuing confirmation of faith in progress as such.” (17)

This got me thinking about those who advocate for the progress of unrestricted scientific research, morality and ethics be damned, such as Don Rubin of the Missouri Coalition for Life Saving Cures:

Those who threaten to repeal Missourians’ access to stem cell research should step back and allow scientists to conduct the work necessary to achieve the goals that I hope we all share.

But is it really progress to go forward with some scientific research when certain ethical concerns arise (such as the destruction of human embryos) that compromise its inherent “goodness” for the future of mankind?

“If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man’s ethical formation, in man’s inner growth (cf. Eph 3:16; 2 Cor 4:16), then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world.” (Spe Salvi, 22)

We must progress spiritually/morally as well as technically/scientifically. This means establishing some clear moral and ethical boundaries and rejecting any technical “advancements” which cross those lines. The intentional creation and destruction of human life, through cloning and ESC research violates the inherent dignity of all human life (at any stage). To go forward with such research then is not real progress but a serious threat for man and the world. The same can be said for euthanasia, abortion and a host of other technical or societal “advancements” in our world today. Yet our modern notion of freedom is a release from the shackles of any semblance of faith or morality - at least to the extent that it might challenge our ability to do whatever we want.

If progress, in order to be progress, needs moral growth on the part of humanity, then the reason behind action and capacity for action is likewise urgently in need of integration through reason’s openness to the saving forces of faith, to the differentiation between good and evil. Only thus does reason become truly human. It becomes human only if it is capable of directing the will along the right path, and it is capable of this only if it looks beyond itself. Otherwise, man’s situation, in view of the imbalance between his material capacity and the lack of judgement in his heart, becomes a threat for him and for creation. Thus where freedom is concerned, we must remember that human freedom always requires a convergence of various freedoms. Yet this convergence cannot succeed unless it is determined by a common intrinsic criterion of measurement, which is the foundation and goal of our freedom…Reason therefore needs faith if it is to be completely itself: reason and faith need one another in order to fulfil their true nature and their mission. (23)