Pinkerton, disingenuous on ESC research, but not alone

I meant to write about this a week ago, when this piece was published, but I got distracted. Then I saw it again at Jackson Junction and got mad all over again.

Here’s the deal: Jim Pinkerton wrote the following:

The religious right, for example, insists on using a certain level of technology to preserve life, such as feeding tubes and antibiotics. But the religious right also insists, at the same time, that not too much technology be used. The most obvious example is stem-cell research.

What would happen, for instance, if scientists announced that they could grow a new brain from stem cells for Terri Schiavo? That is, the wizardry of medical technology would allow the unfortunate woman to regain her mental faculties. Such an announcement, admittedly hypothetical at present, would put the “right to life” supporters of Schiavo in an awkward position. On the one hand, they would support her continued existence in a “vegetative” state. But on the other, they would oppose stem-cell-based intervention that would lead to her genuine physical recovery. Which is to say, conservatives might be happy to see Schiavo’s near-comatose state forever, but others of different beliefs might demand the true rehabilitation of their loved one.


Now…if the pro-lifers were (as consistently and INCORRECTLY portrayed by Pinkerton, Richard Cohen, E.J. Dionne and pretty much every MSM pundit I can think of) “against stem cell research” then this would be a VERY intriguing, interesting and fair question.

However…since pro-lifers DO support stem cell research, and object only to EMBRYONIC stem cell research, the question is completely disingenuous, as well as condescending, sneaky, specious and FALSE.

Let’s do this once more, for the sake of clarity:

Pro-lifers do not object to stem cell research. We applaud the exciting gains being made in the realm of adult-stem cell research. Adult stem cells, which are being harvested from nasal cells, placentas and umbilical cords, fat, hair, skin, etc have already demonstrated remarkable usefulness. I read a story just recently (wish I’d saved it) wherein two women who had been left paralysed via accidents were now walking thanks to stem cells taken from their own nasal cavities. Remarkable and miraculous stuff.

Pro-lifers DO object to EMBRYONIC stem cell research. Believing that an embryo, for all of its potential and fragility, is still a HUMAN being (certainly a being – certainly not vegetable, not wolvine…what shall we call it but HUMAN) we believe that once an embryo has been created it is to be treated with the utmost respect, and not exploited for medical research.

From what I have read, embryonic stem cells seem to be problematic, anyway. It appears they are uncontrollable; they have been called too “malleable” or “plastic” and difficult to manage. I’ve read that experiments done on Parkinson’s patients, using embryonic stem cells have proved so disasterous (as in terrible things have happened) that the research on Parkinson’s patients has been discontinued. Not “postponed,” not “delayed,” but d-i-s-c-o-n-t-i-n-u-e-d. That doesn’t happen without good reason.

I have a theory about it. I’m not a scientist of a scholar, so dismiss it all you want, I make no claims to expertise…it’s just my theory.

My theory is that embryonic stem cells are mysterious, difficult to work with, and will ultimately be considered unusable because they are simply too PURE. By that, I mean they are created creatures in their rawest, purest state – in their most immediately God-begotten state, if you will. Close to God. Within that purity is a power which is unimagined and unmanagable…there must be, because that tiny embryo develops into something quite remarkable. It takes power to do that.

Use Heroin as a sort of analogy. Heroin cannot be used in its purest form. You try to use it, you’ll die. You can’t control it by simply using a tiny amount…it MUST be cut with something else, in order to dilute its strength, otherwise it is simply too pure.

I think embryonic stem cells are simply too pure, also. Unfathomably. Those who support ESC research don’t want to hear it…it comes too close to God-talk…but there you go.

The point MUST be made, though, that while pro-lifers abhor the idea of ESC research, and President Bush has limited it to those lines begun before August 2001, the PRIVATE SECTOR is quite free to invest all the time and money it wants to, for just such research. If that is not happening, that is – in and of itself – quite telling.

So, let’s be clear, let’s be truthful, Mr. Pinkerton & Pals, let’s not set up pro-lifers with falsely framed questions that make them look like inconsistent hypocrites.

To answer the question: If Terri Schiavo’s brain could have been healed with adult stem cells, pro-lifers would have been giddy over it.

If it could only be healed with embryonic stem cells, we’d say “no, thanks…”

Because, you see…we ALREADY VALUED Terri, with or without a perfect brain. It would be quite, quite wrong to DE-value another human being in order to enhance her existance.

Sometimes…and this is a really hard concept for the Culture of Death to wrap its head around, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true…sometimes, you look at your life and you say, “THIS is my life, THIS is the life I have, and it is the life I am MEANT to have. I have no business destroying another life, interrupting the life he or she is supposed to have, simply to make mine better. There is something I am meant to do, or learn, or understand, with this life as I HAVE it.”
Christopher Reeve, God rest his soul, seemed not to understand that. Nor, it seems, does Michael J. Fox.

I have nothing but compassion for both of those men, I am not dissing them. But I am suggesting that there is a hard truth contained in all of our lives. We get dealt a hand, and we’re supposed to play it, and we’re not supposed to kill anyone else, if we can help it, as we do. Police Officer Steven MacDonald, injured in precisely the same way Reeve was, understands this. Pope John Paul the Great, ill with the same disease afflicting Fox, understood it, as well. Neither would want another human being sacrificed for their sake.

And here are a few more who understand it. Gabriele Helms of Canada and Dr. Gianna Beretta Molla.

It takes, I think, heroic, or perhaps merely grace-filled love, to believe as these people do, Gabriele, Gianna, Steven and John Paul. I DO believe it. I understand it. I pray that were I to face their challenges, I’d have the fortitude to follow their example.

There are gifts and value in suffering. I know, I know…in the 21st century, suffering is not supposed to have
value or to bear gifts. But every holy person, including those championed by the left like Ghandi and MLK, would concur that suffering, is very often, a means to greatness. What is true is true, no matter which century you happen to be in.

By all means, let us bring an end to infirmity where it may be ended, in as many cases as we possibly can. But…let’s not kill other human beings to do it.

I hope someday, Pinkerton, Cohen, Dionne and others can understand the concept, really “get” it. Right now, I believe that they truly believe their position supporting ESC research is a compassionate one. But it is narrow; it is not transcendent. In seeking to give potential, it interrupts both the physical/intellectual potential of the person within the embryo, and the spiritual/intellectual potential of the person who is suffering-in-body, and perhaps in spirit. It ignores the value of suffering and what gifts it can, paradoxically bring.

Meanwhile, until they DO understand it, it really shouldn’t be too much to ask for them to state the position of the other side accurate and fairly.

About Elizabeth Scalia