I was visiting with a friend and his wife recently and he was railing against Obama in a comical manner. Now, he’s a Christian and really conservative. He’s one of those who’s starting to joke about stocking canned goods and moving to a compound in Montana next week. I’m cool with that because just in case things do go really really bad I’ll have a destination.
I brought up the stem cell decree by Obama and he looks over at his wife. He saw me notice and then he drops this on me: “I mean, I’m pro-life and all but I’m not really against stem cell research.”
I told him that he was then only pro-some-life and cool with the killing of some others.
“That’s ridiculous,” he exclaimed and told me about all the cures that could eventually come about through stem cells.
I talked to him for a brief while about the difference between adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells. He didn’t know there was a difference.
But then his wife insisted that embryonic stem cell research wasn’t as bad as abortion. “You’ve got to admit that, right?” she said.
“Why,” I asked.
She paused and thought for a moment. “Well…because…they’re not babies. They’re in a petri dish in a lab somewhere.”
“So instead of finding fault with the fact that laboratories have humans in dishes,” I said, “you choose to say that because the humans are in the lab it’s OK to kill them.”
“But they’re going to just die anyway,” my friend interrupted.
“So are you. That doesn’t give me an excuse to throw you in a dish and start using you for parts, does it?”
“That’s ridiculous,” she said.
“Yes, it is,” I said. “Look. I know what you’re saying. It’s because they don’t look human. They don’t look like us but the reason of ‘they don’t look like us’ has been a reason given for mass murder and oppression throughout the centuries.”
His wife then stood up and ended the conversation, saying that it wasn’t appropriate talk for the occasion. As I left an hour later with good cheer I hoped I gave them something to think about.
On the ride home I started thinking that pro-lifers have focused extensively on what the baby looks like in the womb. We point out the baby’s fingers. We show them hiccuping. Our reason for their safety has lied in their similarity to us. And it’s a great argument that I think changes hearts but I think what’s happened is we have a new class of pro-lifer that’s a little like vegetarians that don’t mind eating non-cute creatures like fish.
Life should be protected because it is life. Humans should be protected because they’re human. Once we make exceptions, it just matters who’s drawing the line.
March 16, 2009 at 6:25 pm
I had a similar argument with my supposedly pro-life son-in-law, who is also diabetic. He’s on the bandwagon for ESC, and doesn’t seem to understand the difference between adult and embryonic stem cells, nor did he realize that not one single therapeutic treatment has been derived from ESC.
Wish my comebacks were as witty as yours!
March 16, 2009 at 6:30 pm
It’s funny because on the way home I was kicking myself a thousand different ways for not saying something that made him change his mind. But maybe there is no magic bullett verbiage. Or I’m just too dumb to know what it is.
March 16, 2009 at 6:48 pm
The core problem is that IVF has never been condemned in the public, even pro-life mind. In the last several years, a Catholic school teacher from Wisconsin lost her job when she revealed to her class that her new baby was the result of IVF, which is of course against the sanctity of life and the marital act. She says that she had no idea, and I believe her. Our priests and bishops have been silent on this issue, I presume because they wish to be pastoral and caring in this sensitive area. After all, a couple resorts to IVF because they are unable to conceive naturally. But this lack of knowledge, has side effects, i.e. support for ESC. (And directly, IVF results in the killing of embryoes.) I believe that was the case here in Missouri when we amended our constitution to make ESC a research right. We must get the bishops to teach the profoundly beautiful truths of Humanae Vitae, and to connect the dots when we will not. Perhaps this blog can help steam roll this. Lord have mercy on us, help to accept Your truth.
March 16, 2009 at 7:41 pm
I believe that all this confusion about what life is and when it begins is the result of the neglect of Humanae Vitae. We just celebrated the 40th anniversary of the great document and you heard exactly NOTHING in the churches about it. But people turn around and scratch their heads in disbelief. Paul VI had it right the whole time.
March 16, 2009 at 9:50 pm
He was right over the bishops’ protests, too. There’s a reason for the deafening silence.
March 16, 2009 at 11:38 pm
Well as for pro-lifers using pictures to help others more easily see the humanity of the child – yeah it isn’t the perfect argument and ignores the embryo.
Just like stating how many cures Adult Stem-Cell have created. It really is immaterial to to the fact that embryonic stem-call research is always immoral.
Though we need to use the arguments that are effective along with stating the basis for the moral understanding.
March 16, 2009 at 11:44 pm
“That doesn’t give me an excuse to throw you in a dish and start using you for parts, does it?”
Would your sense of poetic justice ever compel you to reconsider that?
March 17, 2009 at 12:58 am
My fear of prison overweighs my sense of poetic justice…just slightly.
March 17, 2009 at 5:49 am
March 17, 2009 at 1:19 pm
I am a diabetic. How could I in good conscious accept a treatment or cure derived from the slaughter of the unborn?
Could I do such a thing?
March 17, 2009 at 2:01 pm
Hi Matthew… don’t feel bad about not seeing an immediate change of heart in your friends. You have planted the seed. Not many would be willing to admit they were wrong and completely uninformed about the facts when they have already stated their opinion about the issue.
I’ll bet they are at least thinking about it now.
Great post. Perhaps when you are all hiding out in Montana you’ll have more time to get your points across!
March 17, 2009 at 3:13 pm
Bravo. Don’t beat yourself up for not having the perfect argument at the tip of your tongue. Many of us are unable to think on our feet as well as you are.
As others have already said, you very likely planted a seed.
March 17, 2009 at 5:31 pm
Agreed! I was just talking with my Dad this weekend about embryonic stem cell research. I told him they created life to take the cells and then destroyed the life. He said, “Is that what they do?” He’s not staunch pro-life, but he is smart. How is it that people just assume stem cell research is good and never question the procedure?
I agree, we need to discuss the idea behind destroying life, not just trying to convince others that abortion is wrong because the babies are cute. The babies are created by God, human, and deserve life!
March 24, 2009 at 11:00 am
Very, very true.