Catholic Physicians Draw Ethical Lines in Cloning Debate at CMA Conference

Bioethics   |   Mark Armstorng   |   Nov 2, 2010   |   3:00PM   |   Seattle, WA

What does it mean to be human? It is an age-old question.

The Discovery Institute played host to a discussion of what it means to be human as a prelude to the 79th annual educational conference in Seattle for the Catholic Medical Association. 

Human life is under assault like never before in our history.  Some scientists are advocating destruction of our most vulnerable with “promises” of miraculous cures for the rest of us.

From researchers who use destroy human embryos in an attempt to find cures for all that ails us, to perhaps one day fetal tissues made from grown from cells taken from our own body to replace, say your kidneys, “this is the natural consequence of deciding that human life has no dignity,” said Wesley Smith.

In fact, ironically there is a growing sentiment in the country that more dignity should be given to animals than humans when it comes to medical research.

“There are large groups of people in this country who care more about animals than they do people,” said Smith.  “They believe we should discard the value of each human life and instead view the animal as having greater value.”

Smith and others believe that science is very close to cloning a human.  “I think human cloning is already occurring at the human embryonic stage.  The problem they are having is that you need one human egg for every cloning attempt.  And there are not human eggs for these experiments.  In fact the human egg has become the valuable human commodity on the planet ounce for ounce.”

Smith said college girls are being offered tens of thousands of dollars if they are “eugenically correct” to sell their eggs.  And until there can be a reliable, steady stream of human eggs it will be difficult to perfect human cloning.

“There are some scientists taking cadaver ovaries and trying to mature them into human eggs.  There are experiments on aborting female fetuses, which have the most human eggs that they will ever have, and trying to mature those human eggs. “

Human cloning has actually been done, but so far it has not been very successful.  The question then becomes how do we protect both the doctors and scientists who do not want to practice this kind of gruesome medicine from those with no moral scruples not to?

Further, what if your patient demands to be treated with this new “miracle” therapies.  Already in states like Washington and Oregon with assisted suicide laws on the books, there are pressures to force medical providers who don’t want to end a person’s life to refer them to another care provider who kills them.  And in the Victoria state in Australia there is a new law on the books that requires physicians who will not perform an abortion to refer that woman to a different provider who does perform abortions.

We’ve come a long way from the days when a pagan culture developed the “Hippocratic Oath” over 2,500 years ago.  It’s simple “do no harm” included not providing abortions, no assisted suicide and equal medical care for even the slaves of that Greek society.  Today, according to Smith, fewer than 15% of physicians take the Hippocratic Oath when they graduate from medical school and even those that do are more concerned about the confidentiality parts of it than “doing no harm to a human life.” Note: Mark Armstrong is the co-author of Amazing Grace for Fathers along with his wife, Patti Armstrong, Jeff Cavins and Matt Pinto.