I am pro-life. Always have been, always will be. Abortion is one of the worst crimes any human being can commit, up there with genocide. The victim is defenseless and does not know what is happening. My stance on abortion puts me more on the conservative side of the political scale.
More often than not, I find myself cheering on the Republican in the presidential elections rather than the Democrat. I like to think that I have no affiliation with any political party, but this obvious bias for Republicans says otherwise.
Yet, I do not always agree with everything a Republican president does during his term(s), nor do I always disagree with the Democratic president’s policies.
Take June 20, 2007 for an example. On that day, former President George W. Bush issued a veto, which overruled a measure attempting to remove Bush’s ban on embryonic stem cell research. Until that day, I had supported almost all of Bush’s policies on multiple occasions. But this was not one of those times.
His presidency ended sourly over a year later, due to the worsening economy and his ultra-conservative policies, which even a Republican like me could not stand.
Then Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. Those who know me know that I detest Obama, his policies, and his idea of radical change. The numerous bailouts will not fix the economy; the Obama-care health plan is completely unnecessary and socialistic. But that is another column.
Recently, Obama has started to move onto my good side, despite his ultra-liberalism. Perhaps most important is his removal of the stem cell research ban, a monumental decision, up there with his removal of combat troops from the Middle East.
The two most recent presidents passed groundbreaking laws about stem cell research, both of their positions loosely defining their presidency. So what is it about embryonic stem cell research that makes, or breaks, a presidency?
Stem cells are unique cells that we are all born with. They have the ability to transform into any kind of cell the body needs, whether it be a heart cell, a brain cell, or even a simple skin cell.
This is big news for the medical community. Is grandpa dying from Alzheimer’s? Transform a couple stem cells into brain cells. Is he struggling with diabetes? Generate some pancreas cells. The possibilities are literally endless.
However, the best kind of stem cells to harvest can only be harvested from embryos. And this is where the controversy starts.
More often than not, the embryos are killed when scientists harvest the stem cells. At first glance, this is a premature form of abortion and my pro-life self should not support it in the least. Why then do I support it?
Abortion is the killing of a living being before it is born. But I do not consider an embryo a living being. A living being must have the ability to perform complex actions, including but not limited to motion, production of energy, and transport of that energy throughout the organism.
This criteria means that embryos are not alive until about the fifth week of pregnancy, which is the time their brain and heart start to function. Until then, I do not consider them alive. Therefore, feel free to harvest stem cells from them until we find a better way.
There is a group of scientists out there who are working on a way to convert adult skin cells into stem cells, but it has not produced the same versatility. That is the magic of embryonic stem cells. It can be easily transformed into any kind of cell in the human body. Once an organism is born, the cells pretty much stay the same type of cells throughout the organism’s lifespan.
The best time to harvest stem cells is before the fifth week of pregnancy. Think of all we as a species could accomplish with access to a ready supply of stem cells. Debilitating diseases like stroke or Alzheimer’s would be a distant memory. Paraplegics or victims of muscular dystrophy would gain full use of their limbs again.
With all the promise of this field of research, it makes little sense for one to restrict it. I am pro-life and have never been in support of killing an unborn child, but the promise of major medical advancements and ability for numerous people to pursue a life of happiness is too great. Sometimes, you have to be willing to sacrifice one life to save millions.