Eric Cohen and William Kristol, in an article published several years ago in The Weekly Standard (“Cloning, Stem Cells, and Beyond”), observe that “at present, we are in the midst of a debate on embryonic research, human cloning, and stem cells. But the choices and advances that have placed these dilemmas before us did not happen overnight. They happened step by step, one innovation after the next. The dilemmas themselves were always there, if perhaps not always quite as pressing as they now seem.”
When we allowed the development of “test tube” embryos for in-vitro fertilization, we allowed the development of extra embryos in case one was not good enough to use or didn’t take. Now we have a very large number of embryos which have been frozen. What is to be done with them? The greater problem we now face is that if embryonic stem cell research is successful, it is questionable whether politicians and/or the general public will want to refuse the next step, that of killing embryos for their stem cells in order to alleviate the suffering of the sick or injured.
However vast the majority may be who oppose cloning for developing usable body parts, the issue is far from dead. Some will argue that if we are going to discard (kill) these embryos anyway, why not use them for the healing of others? The door is open and the battle is before us. Our peril is that what works and “helps people” will trump ethics.
All of this spoke to me about decisions that I have made that involved compromise rather than principle. Each time it has risen up to bite me. Rationalizing spares us from making the hard choice now and creates for us a more difficult choice in the future. Doesn’t evil always gain the advantage when we venture onto slippery slopes?
William B. Coker, Sr.