Extremism and Pragmatism in the Destruction of Human Life

Despite President Obama’s sweet-sounding campaign grandiloquence about post-partisanship and bipartisanship, he his actions have belied his promises—in a little over a month, we have witnessed nothing more than hoary oratory proving that he is exactly the left-wing liberal that his career record blatantly indicated he would be.

Over the last several weeks, Obama has essentially declared war on social conservatives by firmly standing with the hard left ideologues against life and religious liberty. He has (outlined and discussed further here):

1) Proposed to eliminate safeguards protecting the conscience-based refusal of doctors and other health care personnel to perform abortions;

2) Forced taxpayers, including those who are uncompromisingly morally opposed to abortion, to fund abortions-as-family-planning in foreign countries by rescinding the Mexico City Policy; and

3) Proposed moving a liberal governor from the back pocket of her state’s abortion providers to the secretariat of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The most recent example: the executive order allowing federal taxpayer dollars to be used to fund destructive embryonic stem-cell research. The NY Times and friends have tried to present Obama’s decision as an apolitical, science-informed choice, but it was President Bush’s stance on the issue that was a reasonable compromise: allowing federal funding for existing embryonic stem-cell lines, but not for newly created ones. In fact, the embryonic stem-cells funded under the Bush order had already been destroyed because the formation of a stem-cell line requires the destruction of the embryo.

Contrary to the fear mongers (many of whom are now in the upper echelons of the Obama Administration), President Bush’s principled stance didn’t lead to a void of research on curing diseases, but to results-producing research on adult stem cells. Most importantly, however, as Yuval Levin explains, President Bush clearly understood the ethical dilemmas—despite the soaring rhetoric about the potential—involved in destroying human life for scientific purposes. His choice to limit federal funding was based on two principles: 1) that life should not be snuffed out for pragmatic justifications and 2) the federal government should not incentivize the destruction of human life.

Certainly, many argue (including the authors of this website) that embryonic stem-cell research presents ethical and moral problems that justify an outright prohibition. As Larry Kudlow asks, “how can you destroy a life in order to save one?” But the Obamaists aren’t removing such a prohibition; indeed, none existed and ESC research was and will continue to be funded by private and state-taxpayer dollars. Stated succinctly by Robert P. George and Eric Cohen, the decision “forces American taxpayers, including those who see the deliberate taking of human life in the embryonic stage as profoundly unjust, to be complicity in this practice.”

President Obama is forcing everyone who opposes embryonic stem-cell research for moral reasons, for religious reasons, for ethical reasons, to pay for it. And that is profoundly unjust.

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2 thoughts on “Extremism and Pragmatism in the Destruction of Human Life

  1. It’s also worth noting that both Obama and the liberal media is quick to shy away from the moral implications of funding ESC research. Instead, tax payer funding of embryo destruction is couched the terms of “helping future generations.”Especially deceptive is Obama’s disingenuous stance against cloning, “we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction.” Ironically, opening that door is exactly what he did. I may post more specifically in the months to come regarding that subject.

  2. Obama’s decision on embryonic stem cell research is simply an unconscionable act. But, not unexpected (think back to the Saddleback Forum).The decision to bring someone like Sebellius on board is particularly distressing to me since she will have the power to further institutionalize (and fund) abortion-on-demand in this country.

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