LET So-called compassion is wrong
Columnist Ellen Goodman, in her Aug. 10 column, seats herself on the side of science and moderation against ideology and extremism. She then proceeds to deliver herself of an extreme ideological polemic against "these people" who oppose embryonic stem-cell research.
The claims for embryonic stem cells are, so far, only speculation. But the cost is already certain. To get what Goodman calls "a powerful and promising little cell," you have to kill an early embryo that contains the full genetic makeup of a human being.
To counter this reality, Goodman offers two arguments used by stem-cell promoters. The first is that, because we've already allowed fertility clinic embryos to be frozen and stored, why can't embryos be created that will be put to use? The answer is that creating "excess" embryos in the first place is morally wrong.
The second argument is that the needs of living people take precedence over those of "undifferentiated cells," in the words of Ron Reagan, quoted by Goodman.
She quotes bioethicist George Annas, who poses the imaginary case of an in-vitro fertilization clinic on fire: "Is there anyone who would save the fertilized eggs in the freezer instead of a child?" This is meant, of course, to show where the real compassion should be -- with the already-born. But is it not an example of how "compassion" can lead is to kill the not-yet-born?