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Consuming our unborn is indefensible

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    Consuming our unborn is indefensible

    Consuming our unborn is indefensible

    August 7 2002

    Judeo-Christian ethics will help to save us from ourselves, writes Andrew Cameron.

    This week we heard that embryonic stem cell researchers now hope to grow the dissected remains of one embryonic human on the aborted remains of another.

    Yes, some of us are appalled that aborted foetuses are being consumed rather than respected, just as we respect the bodies of adults who have died. To find this abhorrent does not equate to a careless lack of interest in the plight of the sick and disabled. And the current use of aborted foetuses in research does not mean that there is no moral objection to such a use, whether in stem cell research or elsewhere.

    The Christian objection to these practices, shared by many in this community, is that despite the possibly positive outcomes, we are turning into a society who consumes our unborn for our own benefit.

    That is, we are becoming a society which can measure the rightness of a thing only by whatever consequences are promised to us. This is known as consequentialism or utilitarianism. We no longer notice what is happening; we look forward only to the promised results.

    People have an uncanny ability to justify actions incrementally. Embryonic experimentation begins since it will produce new life in IVF. Abortion is permitted for the sake of women whose lives are endangered by a pregnancy or who wish to exercise reproductive choice. With inexorable logic, it is declared a waste to let "spare" embryos and foetal tissue go unused, and research using both is promoted. Biotech companies, pharmaceutical companies, and public research institutes commend themselves as the most efficient means of spreading benefit to the sick masses.

    And what do we now have? A society so hostile to children that it has one of the lowest birthrates in the world and which uses the dead bodies of its abortions and its embryos for the consumption of the living. And a multibillion-dollar global industry is now based upon these practices. We have been a consumer society for so long that for us, it seems right to consume our own unborn. This consumption is not, in the first instance, by the disabled and the sick.

    Currently the main consumers work in the biotech industry, who serve to profit both professionally and financially on the tissue of these beings who have never been allowed to be born.

    For some of us, the results for some future generation of sick people do not justify this extraordinary system of medical research practices. During the course of the stem cell debate, a number of erroneous claims have been made about people who oppose research on embryonic tissue.

    For example, some weeks ago on this page, the Premier, Bob Carr, attacked those opponents of embryonic stem cell research who say that "humanity should suffer", since suffering is an inevitable part of the human condition "dictated by original sin" (Herald, June 27). Clearly, he has some form of Christianity in mind. But the implication that we are somehow pro-suffering is extraordinary and unjustifiable, given that historically, the Christian church has been at the forefront of public medicine.

    Nor are we thereby anti-progressive, since we applaud all attempts to heal sickness using morally uncontroversial methods - which, in this case, include research into adult stem cells.

    (Indeed we wholeheartedly believe that scientists are brilliant enough to overcome whatever setbacks they see in adult stem cell research.)

    We call for a halt to these practices for the same reasons that someone in early
    Nazi Germany should have called for a halt to the medical research practices that were slowly building upon themselves during that period. As in that time and place, Australian medicine is being co-opted by something other than the promotion of life. Therefore we will oppose these practices, and continue to oppose them whether or not they are law, on the same ancient biblical grounds that gave us what we value in the modern West.

    The Bible's claim that God values the unborn, the fatherless and weak, and people in general, is a primal and fundamental fact. Even if subsequently secularised, this biblical claim has given the West its basis upon which to care for the sick, stop the slave trader, protect the elderly and weak, and respect the dead.

    If our opposition means that we are entering a protracted engagement with those who measure the value of life in consequentialist terms alone, then so be it. Far from having passed its use-by date, the ancient Judeo-Christian ethic finds itself once again at centre stage, to save us from ourselves.

    Andrew Cameron is a lecturer in ethics at Moore Theological College.

    I'll bet anyone $100 that if Mr. Cameron was a C1/C2 quad he would quickly change his mind. It's easy to have supposed high morales when you're healthy.

    "Save the last dance for me!"


      consuming our unborn

      Freakin hogwash!!!!!!!!!!!!


        I'm about to look at the answers to the question I posed yesterday, about where there is actual Biblical text that outlaws abortion. I've never seen any.

        Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.



          ...and who will save us from these moral hypocrites who fondle the children they proclaim to want to protect and then hide these perverse "holy men" from the same "justice" system they want to use to criminilize seeking a cure? Perhaps the church would consider sacrificing their "in-house pedophiles" for lab experiments in order to find alternatives to stem cell research. I'd have no objections.


            Comparing modern legitimate medical research to the atrocities committed in Nazi Germany is beyond reprehensible. I like Linda's idea and I would start with the joker that wrote this article.



              C4, 18+ years

              I know I'll take some flack for this, but...
              Personally, I understand this man's viewpoint and believe that he would not change it in spite of illness or injury to self or family. I began questioning my own beliefs while writing letters to Senators voicing my own support of SCNT. Both sides of the issue make sense. I sent the letters, but shortly afterward I stopped writing. I'm leaving this one in God's hands. I figure the only sure thing in life is death, and decided I'm not going to toy with my eternity just for a few more years on earth.

              Just my opinion. Cindy


                With the promise of deriving stem cells through bone marrow, for example, and many other emerging autologous technologies, we may be able to sidestep this whole ethical and irresolvable quagmire, emphasis on 'may...


                My book, 'Scouring the globe for a cure: a disabled man's experiences with stem cell treatment' is available at Booklocker at the following address:


                A percentage of every sale goes to CareCure.


                  Agreed Debbie, Martha, Linda.

                  Time seems to march on for everyone except the religious extremists who, imho, still live in the dark ages.

                  Priests as pedophiles? How dare you speak such blasphemy (sp).

                  Regenerative medicine is the future and it will take place. That train has already left the station.

                  Onward and Upward!


                    Embryonic stem cell research can be done without violating Judeo-Christian philosophies!!!!

                    Abortions occur, and will continue to occur, as long as we as a society (and as members of the Church who are part of that society) fail to deal with the underlying issues. Failure to adequately address the needs of our kids (male and female)in a society drenched with sex, failure to support our single parent families, condemnation rather than love of those who become pregnant out of wedlock, failure to stamp out violence against women (rape, incest) etc....

                    Who in their right mind is going to have a child knowing that if they are not married, that members of their Church will too often condemn them, society will trap them into a welfare cycle (once you are on it...just try to get off of it), pre-natal care will be witheld from you and your child, your child has a greater chance of being subject to poverty and falling into a life of crime and violence?

                    Abortion is more often than not the end result of sin stemming from rape, incest, condemnation, oppression...whatever. That is tragic....for both the child and the woman. Outlawing abortion or stopping the use of human embryo's in research is NOT going to stop this from happening. The Church must look deeper and seek His face to answer the underlying issues if they want to truly stop this epidemic that often ruins, or seriously injures, the lives of all involved.

                    After an abortion occurs, the use of the fetus stem cells to assist in scientific research is analogous to the use of the heart, liver, or kidney of a deceased party for transplantation into another human. Certainly Mr. Cameron would not argue that this is either immoral or unethical (though in some religions...even non-christian...this is forbidden).

                    Christ stated "Physician heal thyself." God granted great gifts to us in the form of our minds to create methods of healing. Stem cell research is one arm of that.

                    For those of us that benefit from such research, I believe that we do have the duty to be vigilant to ensure that IVF clinics aren't "manufacturing" fetus's for profit, and other parties aren't taking profit from abortions. To provide incentives for either practice is both immoral and unethical and should not be condoned in any way.

                    I've struggled with this issue for a long time (as have many of us), and looked at both sides of the debate. After much prayer and consideration this is the answer I believe He has given to me...I am at peace with my position.

                    BTW....the pedophile argument is weak....I don't believe that you'll find too many Christians or non-Chritians that would support the Catholic Priests' actions.
                    What we do in life echoes in eternity. Maximus - Gladiator


                      I believe God wouldn't have put us down this road for no reason. We are living at a time where we have control over our destiny, and all this research is a step towards something none of us can understand right now. It truly is amazing what has happened in the last 30 years, but we will eclipse that progress and surpass that in just the next 5. What a wonderful time to be alive, I just hope the extreme right doesn't drive us back into the stone age.