Tyler Too

Is an Embryo a Person?

By Gus Tyler

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President Bush, contrary to popular impression, is not opposed to the use of stem cells in the treatment of patients. He is opposed to the use of embryonic stem cells. These are stem cells to be found in an embryo.

This is based on a belief that human life begins at conception. The embryo is a person. Obviously it is not a full-grown person, but a human being nevertheless. To use stem cells from an embryo is or should be illegal.

The crime is not a piece of trivia. If life begins at conception, the doctor who performs an abortion is a murderer.

Is the belief that life begins at conception founded in scientific evidence? The answer to that question is not easy to come by. There are doctors who perform abortions but refuse to do so after a given point of development. Obviously, the date varies depending on the doctor and, perhaps, on the condition of the woman. Those who hold that life begins with conception are generally resting on religious tenets.

For a many years, some states outlawed abortions. In the landmark case of Roe v Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court found these laws to be unconstitutional. In the light of all of the above, there is no reason why the use of embryonic stem cells should be illegal.

Individuals who do not wish to be treated with embryonic stem cells should have the unabridged right to refuse such treatment. But to outlaw the use of embryonic stem cells is to tear down the wall of separation between church and state.

GM Ellis Wed. Jul 4, 2007

Having read through most of your blog posts here that have not yet been archived, I can see that you generally follow a liberal line of thinking. This column on stem cells also pushes a liberal agenda, though I give you credit for at least correctly stating the basic facts. First, a comment on the column: The one factual error is that the President has not outlawed the use of embryonic stem cells in research; far from it--he urges no restrictions all about using existing lines originally from a human embryo. But more importantly, the only restriction from the Presidential order is on the use of Federal funds in creating new lines of embryonic stem cells. But the point of the article is that there should be a separation of church and state (one of your recurring themes), and that separation should prohibit any moral judgment about how the people's money should be spent. Indeed, it is exactly those types of moral dilemmas we expect our leaders to decide on our behalf every single day. Without moral guidance how can we every decide how to do what is "best" for this country? There is a basic flaw in the premise of the column; there is no way to separate judgment and morality. And somehow I doubt you are suggesting our leaders not use their judgment. If I may be allowed to hugely broaden the topic, I have a question I would like someone in the Jewish community to answer for me: Why are Jews more liberal and more inclined to be Democrat than the general population? Is it simply a matter of following in the footsteps of your family, or is there some more specific reason? Certainly Jews are an important part of every level of American society. Why then are they not similarly distributed along the political spectrum? One would think that if there is a unifying issue it would be centered around Judaism, not the general liberal causes of the American left. But Democrats are notoriously weak on Jewish issues: protection for Isreal, freedom of religion and fighting terrorism. Why does the Jewish community continue to support Democrats who sympathize with Palestinians (see recent comments by Obama)? Why are they not, as a group, solidly behind the party that stands beside Isreal on every single issue?

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