Columnist Can't Justify Cannibal Morality

Article excerpt


Commentary columnist Bruce Fein imagines that a human embryo, once produced by cloning, would gladly volunteer to be killed for researchers' speculations ("Morally misguided scientific paralysis," April 16). He seems to have created a new argument against human embryo cloning: The act induces bizarre delusions of clairvoyance in people who feel obliged to support it.

To bring the issue back down to reality: Twenty-five years of research in mouse embryonic stem cells have produced chiefly a great many dead mice; embryo cloning has produced no therapies even in animals. Meanwhile, adult stem cells have helped hundreds of thousands of human patients and are being used successfully to treat patients with Parkinson's disease and severe immune deficiency. Other adult cell therapies have produced promising new treatments for diabetes and spinal-cord injury.

So to answer Mr. Fein's other argument: No, it is not "self-defense" to kill and eat a passenger on your boat, even if you are hungry. It is homicide. When the boat is already filled with wholesome food as an alternative, it is insanity.


Deputy director of pro-life activities

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops



In Bruce Fein's Commentary column "Morally misguided scientific paralysis," he mentions a scenario involving three persons on a raft who will die unless one of them is eaten by the others. He asks: "Doesn't morality dictate killing the man in his sunset hours to save the infant and spouse with exciting long years ahead instead of letting all three perish?" The answer is no.

Morality dictates that you cannot commit evil to do good; this is a fundamental principle of Judeo-Christian ethics. Sacrificing oneself in order to save others is not, as Mr. Fein implies, the same as murdering someone to save others. It is this distortion of morality that has led our culture to espouse abortion and euthanasia. One's worth is not measured by one's utility to society but in the fact that we are all created equal by God.


Sterling, Va.


In his April 16 Commentary column, Bruce Fein offers a compelling analogy to the current dilemma of embryo-cloning research. To be brief, it entails sacrificing one innocent occupant of an imaginary lifeboat to save the other, equally innocent occupants.

The fatal flaw in this analogy is that the human embryo is created specifically to be sacrificed. …