President Bush struck a compromise in his decision over stem cell research. He had three Federal government funding options:
- To allow the unlimited production of embryos in order to harvest their stem cells for research purposes.
- To ban all stem cell research thus eliminating the need to create embryos.
- To permit research only on the stem "lines" (stem cells already harvested from discarded embryos) which may be cultivated fro tissue and organ production.
Mr. Bush chose the third option reasoning that since the embryos which produced the stem lines have already been destroyed, we might as well get some use out of the valuable harvest they yielded.
Of course, neither side of the debate was happy. Most scientists who lobbied for unlimited production of embryos to fuel their work charged that this decision would hamper their progress in developing tissue and organ replacement research. The pro-life faction, on the other hand, argued that even using the stem cells from an embryo created and then destroyed for this purpose was morally repugnant and a step in the wrong direction.
The media weighed in to the fray by declaring that this issue was too complex for easy decisions and it is complex but the moral issue is not. Simply stated, the crux of the matter is this: Does the end justify the means? In suffering for one group of people justify the killing of another? In other words, do individuals who are suffering have a legitimate right to create and then deny individual life to another so they can extend their own? In still other words, can the strong take from the weak simply because they need or they can?
It doesn't require great intellect to understand this moral question but it does require courage.