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National Legal Summit
Created Equal: Reflections on the Unalienable Right to Life

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Obama's Approval of Embryonic Stem Cell Research Will Further Divide the Nation

By Thomas A. Glessner, J.D.
February 17, 2009

President Obama ran for president and came into office proclaiming that he was going to bring a divided nation together. He promised to govern in a nonpartisan manner and to seek counsel on the serious issues of the day from a variety of sources who have differing opinions. However, Obama has been in office only four weeks and it appears that such promises were simply empty rhetoric that sounded good on the campaign trail.

Today America is clearly a divided nation. This division runs deep — especially in regards to social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. On the life issue the debate intensely rages after years of political activism by both sides. After 36 years of abortion-on-demand (brought about by the edict in Roe v. Wade) American society still has not come to terms with the brutal fact that abortion kills 3,300 unborn children a day. Until it finally faces up to this gruesome reality I fear that the culture will continue it's slippery slide down the path that led a once great German nation to accept the death camps of Buchenwald and Auschwitz.

The president is blind to this reality as he prepares to issue an executive order allowing for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. All news accounts indicate that such an order will be signed at any time. If this is done the president will further divide the nation.

Stem cells are primal cells found in all multi-cellular organisms. They retain the ability to renew themselves through mitotic cell division and can differentiate into a diverse range of specialized cell types. The three broad categories of stem cells are: 1) embryonic stem cells, which are derived from the inner cell mass of a human embryo and have the potential to develop into nearly all of the tissues in the body; 2) adult stem cells, which are unspecialized cells found in adult tissue that can renew themselves and become specialized to yield all of the cell types of the tissue from which they originate; and 3) cord blood stem cells, which are found in the umbilical cord.

Some in the medical community believe that embryonic stem cell research could lead to therapies to effectively treat diseases such as Parkinson's disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. Due to human reproductive technology there are now many "excess" embryos that have not been implanted inside the wombs of women desiring to bear children. Thus, proponents of this research proclaim that such embryos provide an abundant resource to use. However, such research creates obvious controversy. The end result of removing stem cells from an embryo is the killing of this tiny human being.

Let us all remember one very important fact — all of us at one time existed as a human embryo! We were human from conception. For those who believe in the sanctity of human life this is a foundational cornerstone of a just society. Innocent human life has an inalienable right to life endowed by the Creator. And history will ultimately judge a nation and culture by how it treats its most vulnerable of the human family. In American society today the most vulnerable of our human family is the unborn, which includes newly conceived human embryos.

Medical research, no matter how noble it proclaims itself to be, cannot be allowed to exist if the basis for it is the killing of other human beings. And this is the bottom line on embryonic stem cell research.

President Bush understood the grave consequences of allowing federal funds to be used for medical research on existing human embryos. He accordingly issued an executive order that prohibited such use of federal tax dollars. Now, however, our new president appears desirous of reversing this order thereby allowing millions of tax dollars to be applied to the killing of human embryos in hopes of finding "miracle" cures for human diseases.

The tragedy of such an executive order, if it is issued, is that scientific research appears to be on the verge of discovering promising new therapies using adult stem cells. In November 2007 teams of research scientists reported that they succeeded in reprogramming human skin cells so that they behave like embryonic stem cells. Such cells are referred to as pluripotent stem cells. The new technique uses retroviruses to make the skin cells act like stem cells. Retroviruses insert genetic material into the chromosome of the cells. While it may take years to perfect this new technique to make it workable it does add real promise that a morally acceptable answer to the stem cell research controversy is around the corner.

To date the results of embryonic stem cell research have not shown to be promising. Much more promising has been the results from various adult stem cell research and the possibilities of developing new therapies based upon research such as the one reported in 2007. Yet, the Obama administration appears to be oblivious to these facts and continues to push a radical social agenda that further dehumanizes innocent unborn life.

If president Obama truly wants to unite the nation, as he says he does, then he must not govern in a manner that further ignites the divisions that exist. To issue an executive order that will allow for federal funding of the killing of human embryos certainly does this. And such an order will bring our country further down a path of cultural decline that will eventually result in the destruction of a once great American nation.

Copyright © 2009 by Thomas A. Glessner. All rights reserved.

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