Life Matters —The Newsletter of the Respect Life Office of the Diocese of Rockford
By Patricia Pitkus Bainbridge
Associate Director, Respect Life Office
The editorial board of the Rockford Register Star recently spoke out in opposition to cloning. In doing so, they arrived at the correct conclusion albeit for the wrong reasons. While recognizing that “[s]ome things are just inherently, intrinsically wrong…” and that cloning “should be banned,” the board appears to have based its opposition to cloning on the potential for “genetic problems” rather than on the fact that cloning violates the inherent dignity and inviolability of human life. Opposition to such research must be based on the established scientific and moral certainty of the humanity of the embryo, not on pragmatic concerns.
Whether human life is created by what the editorial board terms the “usual way” (fertilization) or by somatic cell nuclear transfer (cloning), the resulting human embryo is a new, distinct human being. This is scientific fact not religious dogma to be debated. Every notable human embryology textbook recognizes this fact. While none of us were ever a sperm or oocyte, all of us were zygotes, embryos, and fetuses. All of us were infants, toddlers, and adolescents.
Sperm and ova are not human beings. Zygotes, embryos, fetuses, infants, toddlers, and adolescents are. All human life is a continuum and no one is more or less human at any stage of development. Human life must be respected and protected at all its stages. Not to do so puts all of humanity at risk.
It Is Horrible
The editors write that “exciting science aside, copying humans is horrible.” Yes, copying humans is horrible. Experimenting on embryos for hypothetical benefits to those suffering from disease is horrible. Destroying human beings by abortion is horrible. Any deliberate attack on innocent human life is horrible.
Unlike the supposition put forth by the board that some intrinsically wrong actions are “on a level most of us will never be able to comprehend,” it is our contention that most people will understand why cloning (as well as embryonic stem cell research and abortion) is intrinsically wrong if they are presented with the facts rather than the distortions and disinformation typically parlayed by those who want to justify genetic tinkering and so-called reproductive rights.
A Line Must Be Drawn
The editorial board writes that “a world that doesn’t know where to draw the line” is scarier than “a world with fatal illnesses.” We agree. Scarier yet is a world that does not respect and protect all human life‑—a world that decides that some human beings are more valuable than others and a world that supports the killing of the most vulnerable among us.
The editors of the Rockford Register Star oppose human cloning while supporting the idea that the pre-born have no right to life if their mothers choose to abort them. They oppose human cloning while supporting the horrific destruction of viable fetuses through dilatation and extraction (commonly known as partial birth abortion). They oppose the creation of life by cloning but not the destruction of embryonic or fetal life.
The board recognizes the need to “draw a line” and yet it draws that line irrationally. The only logical place to “draw the line” is at the point before the dignity of human life is threatened; before human life is viewed as property; before we treat humans as guinea pigs; and before we are allowed to decide who lives and who dies.
If the line is drawn at any other point, all of us will be at the mercy of the subjective, inconsistent opinions of others on whether we live or die. We either protect all human life or no one is safe.
Yes, there are some things that are intrinsically and inherently wrong. Using human beings as research material is wrong. Cloning is wrong. Embryonic stem cell research is wrong. Abortion is wrong. Racism is wrong. Anything that violates the dignity of humankind is wrong.