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Monday, October 11, 2004

The Village Idiot

Research is moving forward to create cloned children out of left-over body parts from aborted babies and 'spare' IVF embryos according to a recent article from the National Post. To those who have been following the reproductive technologies, this is not news.

Chimeras, human-animal hybrids, have been created in the lab for years. Human DNA has been injected into cow, pig and monkey ova and allowed to grow into embryos before being destroyed. Ova have been harvested from the ovaries of aborted girls, artificially brought to maturity and inseminated. While some countries outlaw this, others (Canada, for instance) permit it as part of what is known as "therapeutic cloning." The phrase seems something of a misnomer, given no known therapy uses the cells these techniques generate.

Meanwhile, we see Senator Kerry insist "that some of the most pioneering cures and treatments are right at our fingertips, but because of the stem cell ban, they remain beyond our reach." Now, we could write many different essays with the kind of breath-taking assertion Senator Kerry brings forward. We could point out that stem cell research actually began under the current adminstration, that private funding is doing just fine, or that embryonic stem cell research shows embryonic stem cells don’t work. We could even talk about the fact that adult stem cells, cells which generate no moral objections from anyone, are actually the only useful kind of stem cell, something no one in the press or on Senator Kerry’s staff seems willing to admit.

But let’s ignore all that and study a different aspect of this issue. Specifically, there was in Senator Kerry’s remarks a certain resonance that almost sounded pro-life. Think about it. "The most pioneering cures and treatments [could be ours]…" Where have you heard that before? Pro-life supporters have been using that argument for thirty years, but in an entirely different context.

"Perhaps we have aborted the person who will cure [AIDS, cancer, muscular dystrophy, heart disease]." Remember that phrase? The argument is so old, and so roundly ignored by abortion supporters, that it seems quaint to even bring it up. But the force of the argument was not ignored. Our wily opponents were taking notes. Look what they are willing to do instead.

Today, instead of saving the child in the womb, they will abort that child, culture the ova they harvest from the dead child’s sexual organs, mature that ova in the laboratory, combine it with DNA from someone else’s skin cells, mix them together in the lab, grow it into an embryo, implant the embryo into a surrogate mother or an artificial womb and then bring that child out into the world, so that child can save the world from cancer. Or perhaps they plan on using the resulting embryonic stem cells to culture the tissue that they use to incubate the anti-virus cure that solves AIDS. It’s hard to know, really. The advances of science quite take one’s breath away.

Now, unenlightened savages such as myself look at all of this and think, "That seems an awful lot of work. Couldn’t we just help the mother of that child give birth to her instead of aborting her? Couldn’t we give her the support she needs to raise that girl, help her grow to womanhood, let her conceive a child with her husband and let the couple raise that child themselves? If you wanted the child’s stem cells, you could get them from the umbilical cord at birth, from the skin at two years of age, a small bit of fat in the adolescent years, a nasal cell biopsy from the young adult as part of the vaccination regimen prior to that summer youth hostel vacation in Europe. You get your cells, everyone gets to live. Wouldn’t that be simpler?"

Of course it would be simpler. But it wouldn’t be right. You see, it’s not that these people want to get into our bedrooms. Rather, they want to take over our job in the bedroom, relieve us of the responsibility, control the ultimate means of production, as it were. If we can’t be convinced that we have to get licenses from the government before we can receive permission to have children, then it is the duty of the leadership in this country to find a way to make children without involving parents at all. "Let the citizens disport themselves however they please in the bedroom, but for God’s sake, leave the baby-making to us!" cry our most advanced scientists and social progressives.

That’s why I read with enormous delight Katha Politt’s incoherent racisms on We can’t vote for Bush. He might appoint an Hispanic to the Supreme Court… A Catholic Hispanic… An orthodox Catholic Hispanic... "I can hear it now: How can we deny Torquemada the American dream?"

Now, we will ignore the fact that cloning is against Catholic principles, so the re-emergence of Torquemada as a contemporary justice of the peace would be entirely due not to JP II, who abhors such biological manipulations, but to people very much like Katha Politt. There is no little irony in the fact that Senator Kerry’s supporters are much more likely to bring Torquemada back from the grave than are the men and women surrounding George W. Bush. The irony is in no way mitigated when one considers that Kerry purports to be the Catholic in the group. Given the evidence, there are undoubtedly some who suspect the Kerry candidacy is but a devious papal scheme to clone the original Spanish inquisition back into existence.

If so, we need only consider way in which children will soon be made, and know that Hillary Rodham Clinton, the smartest woman in the world, had long since warned us of the possibility. Once we consider the surgical equipment, the medical training, the personnel, the money, the resources involved in all the complex steps required to do things the right way instead of the old way, we can see that she was absolutely right.

It takes a village to make a child.

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