Friday, November 30, 2007

There They Go Again

Conservatives have done it again. This time columnist Charles Krauthammer is the point man.

In today’s Washington Post column, The Hammer is moist with praise over Shrub’s steadfast refusal to allow stem-cell research from human embryos, in light of the recent discovery of a better way to find the medically valuable cells. Krauthammer writes: “The verdict is clear: Rarely has a president -- so vilified for a moral stance -- been so thoroughly vindicated”

Whether or not Bush took a moral stance or threw a bone to the Christian right isn’t at issue here. As James Thomson said when he first isolated human stem cells, "If human embryonic stem cell research does not make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, you have not thought about it enough." No one truly knows when to call a embryo or fetus a human; we all have opinions. With that in mind, anyone with a facile attitude toward anything to do with the topic has not thought about it enough.

Neither have Bush, Krauthammer, and their cohort. Their moral ground is only high enough to forbid the use of embryos grown for that purpose, or from abortions. In Krauthammer’s words, “I have long argued that a better line might have been drawn -- between using doomed and discarded fertility-clinic embryos created originally for reproduction (permitted) and using embryos created solely to be disassembled for their parts, as in research cloning (prohibited).”

So farming embryos for fertility clinics is all right, even though many of them will be discarded? Aren’t those (potential) lives as sacred as any others? A similar faulty logic is applied to abortions. The conservative line is that abortions should be illegal in all instances, except for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Don’t those defenseless babies deserve some protection, too?

There’s a good reason conservatives are willing to stain their self-proclaimed moral certainties with the fertility clinic, rape, and incest exceptions. They know they don’t have the votes to be pure. Most people in this country see the shades of gray in such cases. Conservatives can’t afford to, because it’s a moral issue, and morality is either right or wrong. They try to cover the nakedness of their arguments with bright line exceptions, but the truth is still there, and its name is hypocrisy.

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