Priests for Life - Educational Resources
EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES
Columns
Fr. Frank Pavone
Fr. Denis G. Wilde, OSA
Fr. Walter Quinn, OSA

Newsletters

Brochures

Articles
Contraception
Death Penalty
Euthanasia

Books

Church Documents

Inspiring Stories

Audio

Video
OTHER SECTIONS
America Will Not Reject Abortion Until America
Sees Abortion


Prayer Campaign

Join our Facebook Cause
"Pray to End Abortion"


Take Action

Social Networking

Rachel's Vineyard,
A Ministry of Priests For Life


Silent No More Awareness Campaign, A Project
of Priests For Life

Clergy Resources
SIGN UP FOR EMAIL


 

DC Appeals Court Removes Protection for Human Embryonic Persons

The idea that human beings can be less than persons is deadly

 

Deacon Keith Fournier

May 04, 2011

Catholic Online

   
 

We must speak for human embryonic Life as we speak for all human life. We must expose and oppose this new form of genetic slavery wherein an entire class of human persons is being labeled as property to be used by those who are more powerful. We must insist on the recognition of human rights for for all human persons, no matter what stage of life's development continuum. Human embryonic stem cell research kills human persons.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - On Friday, April 29, 2011 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned an injunction issued August 23, 2010 by Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The Judge had enjoined the implementation of the Obama Administration guidelines of 2009 which allowed researchers to extract stem cells from "surplus" embryos donated by patients at fertility clinics. Every such extraction kills a human embryonic person.

The case, Dr. James L Sherley et al. v Kathleen Sebelius et al., was filed by Doctors James J Sherley and Theresa Deisher, Nightlife Christian Adoption, Embryos, Shayne and Tina Nelson, William and Patricia Flynn and the Christian Medical Association. The injunction stunned the Obama administration and they appealed it. On Appeal, they won and the Right to Life was dealt another blow. We must defend human embryonic life.

The lower Federal Court found that the guidelines issued by the Obama Administration violated the Dickey-Wicker Amendment which provides that no Federal funds shall be used for "research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death greater than that allowed on fetuses in utero" under Federal Law.

In the lower Courts words "having concluded that the Dickey-Wicker Amendment is unambiguous, the question before the Court is whether ESC (Embryonic Stem Cell Research) is research in which a human embryo is destroyed. The Court concludes that it is."  In another section of the opinion the judge made it even clearer:  "The Dickey-Wicker Amendment  unambiguously prohibits the use of federal funds for all research in which a human embryo is destroyed. 

"Thus, if ESC research is research in which an embryo is destroyed, the Guidelines, by funding ESC research, violate the Dickey-Wicker Amendment.  ESC research is clearly research in which an embryo is destroyed. To conduct ESC research, ESCs must be derived from an embryo. The process of deriving ESCs from an embryo results in the destruction of the embryo. Thus, ESC research necessarily depends upon the destruction of a human embryo."

The Appeals Court lifted the injunction and the deadly experimentation can now begin again. Every "extraction" of embryonic stem cells kills human embryonic life. Two of three Judges on a panel have decided that scientists can kill embryonic human persons for "spare parts" funded by federal tax dollars. Remember, there is an alternative which kills no-one, adult stem cell research. It has been effectively utilized with amazing results.

This entire "stem cell" discussion is intentionally laden with misinformation and mired in emotional appeals which cloud the facts. Human embryonic stem cell research has had no "positive" results. It is always deadly for the human embryonic person. To the contrary, adult stem cell research harms no-one and has borne great results. A human embryo is not distinct in kind from a human being, but a human being at an early stage of development.

In a September 2, 2010 Wall Street Journal article by Laura Meckler and Janet Adamy entitled "Stem-Cell Plaintiffs Cite Ethical Motivation: Scientists Behind Suit Say Work Using Material Derived From Embryos Is Morally Objectionable, Unlikely to Yield Cures" the two Doctors confirmed that they brought the lower Court case out of a concern for the ethical issues involved in killing human embryos. Dr. Sherley said " We have a responsibility and are taught to do ethical research. ..This is impacting the quality of science in this country."

The article noted that both Doctors "said embryonic stem-cell research is morally objectionable and unlikely to produce promised treatments or cures. They said research using adult stem cells, the field each of them works in, has more potential to help patients."  Regarding embryonic stem cell research Dr. Sherley said that the public has "been sold this hype and this promise that embryonic stem cells are going to cure everyone and we're all going to get up and dance. Any adult stem cell scientist is disadvantaged, and that's because there is a deliberate focus to fund embryonic stem cell research and a focus away from adult stem cell research."

The Obama administration's favoring of the deadly use of embryonic stem cells in spite of the medical science which shows that adult stem cells produce results and never kill is morally repugnant.  On Monday, March 9, 2009, the President issued one of his many Executive Orders to accomplish his agenda without any use of either a vote or advice and consent. That Order turned a whole class of human persons, embryonic persons, into commodities to be used. The NIH Guidelines treat human embryos as spare parts.  

In 1987 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Holy See issued an "Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation". Among the many questions answered  was: "What Respect is due to the human embryo, taking into account his nature and identity?" The answer: "The human being must be respected - as a person - from the very first instant of his (her) existence."  

In the "Dignity of the Person" issued in 2009 the Congregation reminded us that science must always be placed at the service of the human person, the family and the common good. Any use of new technologies must respect that the human body is never an "it" - but an "I" - some-one who must never be treated as an object, "The body of a human being, from the very first stages of its existence, can never be reduced merely to a group of cells. The embryonic human body develops progressively according to a well defined program with its proper finality, as is apparent in the birth of every baby."
 
However, the view of "human rights" entrenched in American judicial precedent and legislation denies the equal protection of the law to the human embryonic person. American law refuses to recognize that human embryos have a right to life and a right to a future.

There are a number of philosophical arguments used to try to defend the lie that fundamental rights are conferred by positive civil law rather than by the Natural Law. This is done to deprive entire groups of human persons from their protection. Most reserve the use of the concept of "person" to only those humans who are deemed to somehow be "independent" and/or "autonomous". They are being promoted by people who call themselves "medical ethicists".

They hold academic degrees and professional pedigree and sit on Advisory Councils. Some of these "ethicists" make a distinction between "potential" and "actual" human persons and relegate the child in the womb to the category of being only a "potential" human person. Others view interdependency as a negative and insist on independence and "autonomy" as a criterion for any human rights to ever attach. Some equate the human embryos dependency on the mother as a form of "non-personhood". Still others propose a progressive notion of consciousness as indicative of a growing presence of "personhood".

A few concede that human embryos are human beings but deny they are persons. We find all of these ideas in the field sadly referred to these days as "Bio-Ethics" even though such positions are anything but ethical. We find them in textbooks being used to teach the subject to future medical practitioners. (See, e.g., Singer and Kuhse, "Bioethics") One of these "ethicists", Michael Tooley denies the child in the womb should have any rights at all. His rationale evolved over time. In each version, as scientific research cast serious doubt on his claims, he conveniently shifted his ground to reach the same conclusion.

Yet, human embryology and developmental biology affirm that a human embryo is not distinct in kind from a human being, but a human being at an early stage of development. Even prior to implantation, a human embryo is a unique living human being with the genetic constitution and epigenetic primordial that continues to develop throughout his or her life. However, the right not to be killed in the womb, the right to be born and the right to participate in human relationships are rejected for these little persons. Human embryonic lives are reduced to what one astute Catholic philosopher and lawyer, Robert George, called a "pre-personal way of being human".

The idea that human beings can be less than persons is increasingly applied to other stages of human development outside of the womb. The disabled (physically and mentally), the aged and the infirmed are increasingly denied the equal protection of the law. There is an emphasis on individual rights over relation and on autonomy over solidarity. Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote in "The Gospel of Life" of this "remarkable contradiction". He explained "the roots of the contradiction between the solemn affirmation of human rights and their tragic denial in practice lies in a notion of freedom which exalts the isolated individual in an absolute way, and gives no place to solidarity, to openness to others and service of them."(Par. 19)

This counterfeit idea of freedom also views comatose human beings as no longer worthy of being called "persons". Their caregivers are encouraged to stop giving them food and water. Seriously ill children are viewed as interlopers who should not continue to use medical and social resources. Whether the criteria for being recognized as a human person is a satisfactory level of brain function, an agreed upon notion of self awareness, non-dependency, individual autonomy, or some similar "acceptable" level of physical or mental capacity, this reduces the human being to a human doing, valuable not simply because they are members of our human family and gifts to be received but valued based upon their functionality.

There can be NO debate about this fact; we were all once human embryos. We all lived in the first home of the whole human race, our mother's womb. For the Christian, we profess that the Son of God, the Incarnate Word, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, was a human being, who, in the embryonic stage, lived in his mother's womb.

At every age and stage of our "human-being- ness", be it as an embryonic person, in the womb, as an infant, as a child, an adolescent, an adult, in our times of illness, in our old age, we have always been dependent on others and vulnerable. This is what it means to be a human being. The emphasis of the proponents of the culture of death on independence and autonomy informs a worldview that Pope John Paul II taught threatens the "entire structure of human rights." (Gospel of Life, Par. 19)

In a homily at the 2010 Vigil for Nascent Human Life Pope Benedict called the faithful to defend all human life, including embryonic human life. The Pope noted that "there are cultural tendencies that seek to anesthetize consciences with misleading motivations. With regard to the embryo in the womb, science itself highlights its autonomy capable of interaction with the mother, the coordination of biological processes, the continuity of development, the growing complexity of the organism. This is not an accumulation of biological material, but a new living being, dynamic and wonderfully ordered, a new unique human being."

He cautioned against the growing "darkening of consciences" and proclaimed with clarity and conviction to the whole world that the child in the first home of the whole human race, his or her mothers womb, "has the right not to be treated as an object of possession or something to manipulate at will, not to be reduced to a mere instrument for the benefit of others and their interests. The human person is a good in and of himself and his integral development should always be sought."

We must speak for human embryonic Life as we speak for all human life. We must expose and oppose this new form of genetic slavery wherein an entire class of human persons is being labeled as property to be used by those who are more powerful. We must insist on the recognition of human rights for for all human persons, no matter what stage of life's development continuum.

   
 
Help us spread the word. Share this with your social network.
   
  Back


Priests for Life
PO Box 141172 • Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-735-3448, (718) 980-4400 • Fax 718-980-6515
mail@priestsforlife.org