Saturday, August 11, 2007

LCMS and Stem Cell Research

The debate on stem cell research will receive much additional attention as the presidential race heats up in coming weeks. For this reason I am glad that the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod went on record at their recent convention in support of adult stem cell research, but made it clear that such research that destroys human life (embryonic stem cells) is unacceptable and not supported.

The benefits of stem cell research are well known and varied. These cells are currently used in the ongoing treatment of such conditions as multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Parkinson's. Michael J. Fox and Nancy Reagen have raised awareness by their frequent public comments, using their own suffering as a plea for more support. However, as people look at the diseases ravaging such popular people and their families, they tend to forget the larger ethical questions behind this research, especially those issues that affect the very sanctity of life itself.

The debate on stem cell research touches on the heart of the issue of life that has been at the center of discussion for over 30 years. Proponents on both sides of the issue often appear equally vocal in their support of life, but only one side recognizes the fullness of human life as it extends even into the womb. This is the ultimate question. Where and when does human life begin? If we cannot answer this questions satisfactorily as a culture, we will only continue to erode the sanctity of it, substituting definitions of convenience to wiggle out of the ethical dilemma. Life begins at conception. Period. Hopefully some day that will be the only definition needed.

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