After studying this issue for several weeks, it’s clear to me that we will not resolve it or other issues involving genetic research, not to mention abortion, until we resolve as a society what is meant by being human and at what point human life begins, with its automatically attached and inalienable rights. This is obviously a moral question, but the answer can be grounded philosophically. Until we answer it, the debate will be pointless. When we do, we should return to the time-honored principle that human beings are never to be considered as means, only as ends. I’m sorry, folks, but it’s either a life or it’s not a life, and the argument that an embryo is going to die anyway won’t wash. Whose principle is that?
I suppose President Bush made the right decision on federally funded research, and the only feasible one under the circumstances. And he provided significant leadership as the “teacher-in-chief” in his TV address announcing the decision. But much more will be needed, for the larger question now is, what happens next, particularly in an age in which, as Tom Wolfe has suggested, science and the inexorable march of “progress” are courts from which there seem to be no appeals. The debate has really just begun.