Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Inside NCR

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Inside NCR

Article excerpt

One of the difficulties in this age of technology that develops faster than ethicists are able to ponder its implications is just finding a way to think about it.

Where to start?

It seemed dear to me in watching the fallout from President George Bush's pronouncement on embryonic stem-cell experimentation that we have a long way to go not only in understanding this issue but also in figuring out how to talk about it in the public realm. For instance, one of Bush's press officers was nearly giddy in pronouncing to every news talk show that would have her that the president had figured a path to his decision without crossing "that moral line." She never did define that line, at least in the pieces I saw, nor did anyone press her on the matter. Truth is, the line had been crossed. What Bush did not do was cross the moral line again, if you will, and he managed to straddle the political line nicely, given his earlier courting of antiabortion forces with words that left the impression that he regarded embryonic life as inviolable from the earliest moments.

The discussion of recent weeks demonstrated again how difficult it is to tie decisions over the earliest stages of life to political rules and regulations. The issues simply do not conform easily to legal formulas, a reality attested to by the fact that Bush won praise from some unlikely characters -- religious right figures such as the Rev. Jerry Falwell and TV preacher/political operative Pat Robertson, who are staunchly antiabortion and oppose such research. …

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