Over at his Forbes blog, John Farrell is discussing stem cells. A commenter on his post writes:
“Why is it that, “the Vatican cannot sanction embryonic stem cell research, as it involves the destruction of embryos donated from IVF clinics” … but they say nothing about the fact than those same embryos that go unused are destroyed? It appears that they’d rather have the stem cells destroyed, and help no one, than to see them destroyed by helping cure people of terrible diseases and injury. What hypocrisy.”
Those unfamiliar with the Church’s teaching may not realize that the Church’s ethical treatment of frozen embryos fundamentally involves handling them exactly as we would handle any other human being. That is, all of us will eventually be destroyed, and yet that does not make it legitimate to use any of us for deliberately destructive medical experimentation. And if natural death seems to be an imperfect analogy, we could just use a situation like the concentration camps of totalitarian regimes. That the inmates of such camps are destined to be destroyed does not make it legitimate to use them for research in the meantime. The sanest moral response is to object to the fact that they are imprisoned in the first place.
So too with frozen embryos. The quandry is that there is no good solution to the problem of what to do with them once they are created: to actively destroy them is to deliberately destroy human lives; nevertheless, to let them linger on is a dismal prospect. Yet in a bad situation, and knowing full well that the alternative is hardly pleasant, the Church advises that we at the very least refrain from the active commission of an evil act, the destruction of life, even if it is ostensibly justified by the potential for new medical knowledge.
That it is the Church that gets criticized for supposed inattentiveness to human suffering, rather than those who willingly create lives to put them into this nightmare situation, is a sign of just how deranged modern moral analysis has become.