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The Church-State Quagmire
July 27, 2001
by Maren L. Hickton

They are stumbling and mumbling on the airwaves, trying to defend their support of Stem Cell Research. At podiums, these "I am pro-life, oppose abortion" Congressmen go on and on about "the promise, the hope of tissue that would otherwise not be used." They attempt inspiring tales of the rages of Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other diseases and talk about their related visits to generations of their own ailing family members who could be saved.

And they could, says this new research. Some have the audacity to evoke God's name in their orations, talking about how stem cells do not have "the breath of [God's] life," as they lay in a Petri dish, "only when they are in a mother's womb." How the Federal government should play a role in setting up the boundaries, their boundaries, "to solve the most dreaded diseases of this planet."

And this research can. They compliment each other, as they struggle, for their "thoughtful" commentaries. They talk about setting up "ethical constructs," as if they are the duly appointed moral judges, as it they know better than others, with one Senator talking about how "pro-life this funding really is."

The problem is, the ones who are speaking the loudest are a mere lot of "holy" impostors.

These extreme right-wing GOP'ers are the same people who believe they have the right to govern a woman's body and should outlaw abortion, no matter what the circumstance. They say life begins at conception - except if it could be used for purposes that could help them. Screw women's rights.

These Congressmen are the same Bush spokespersons that fought to ban U.S. funds to international family planning groups. To them, it doesn't matter if a woman is raped; she should carry the child to term and put it up for adoption, some say. It doesn't matter if a woman already has seven children living in poverty, and her husband claims a "marital right" and refuses to use a condom; she should be denied an abortion for not protecting herself. Protecting herself is her job, not his.

They ignore the fact that some women are on medications that negate the effects of birth control and act as if women have abortions on purpose, or worse, claim women are using abortion as a means of birth control. A crude charge.

And if she's in grade school and gets pregnant, not even completely mature herself, too bad for her. Children should have children in record numbers. Many of these same GOP Senators do not support the distribution of birth control in schools, with the alternative for these children, abstinence, even though they know it's not working. For some of these young women, abortion wouldn't occur if such protections were made available.

Facts of life Mr. Bush, in particular, completely fails to face. And when a woman must go through an abortion by pill or procedure due to ignorance, abuse, or medical circumstances that they may not even be aware of, these officials allow these women to be scorned and/or harassed during this difficult choice. And, as legislatures, they continue to demonstrate their lack of understanding, their lack of compassion, as they surreptitiously seek every opportunity, real or contrived, to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Is it any wonder Bush and his poseurs are squirming and struggling in circular discussions over Stem Cell Research and its implications now?

This is all coming from the new GOP platform which, by the way, touts itself as the Party attracting more women. Good ol' boys, who in a recent Senate Appropriations Subcommittee meeting did not include but a token woman in their discussion of support of Stem Cell Research, despite the fact that they were talking a lot about women's bodies, women's rights and, ultimately, women's fertilized eggs - embryos. The only woman who commented that I heard during this entire presentation, besides their panel of experts, came from Senator Kay Hutchison (R-TX), whose comments were like that of someone disengaged, or terribly rehearsed that ended up being glossed over. Hello? I felt like I was watching a surreal version of 'The Stepford Wives.'

No one would be struggling if some of these Congressmen and the President got a clue, read the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and took the time to understand why the separation of church and state exists. In addition to the repeated rationale that, "These embryos will be discarded anyway," as their justification for Stem Cell R&D - which holds less water than some of their arguments against abortion, no bioethicist will ever be able to prove to anyone's complete satisfaction when life begins, saving for when a baby is able to safely take it's first breath outside the womb, where varying religious interpretations conflict between denominations of the Christian sects, let alone the vast number of other religions.

People cannot seem to grasp that a person can be pro-choice and also pro-life. Being pro-choice is a political position related to state matters. A pro-life stance, whether you are a Congressman or citizen, is a religious position regarding how one conducts his or her own personal behavior. Religious positions cannot be legislated and imposed on others in this republic - with all due respect to Pope John Paul II, who does not support this research.

While the church-state quagmire on Stem Cell Research continues, the public is entitled to a more substantive discussion. This promising research, supported by a majority of Americans, is going to occur with or without legislation, legally or illegally, in the United States or elsewhere. But there are risks, which is what the experts should also be talking about. We must make sure that we do not have patients who end up participating in Stem Cell studies without adequate protections, protections that some patients have not been afforded in less-invasive, medical treatment scandals, recently reported. The NIH must present, define, and establish Stem Cell Research guidelines and related trial protocols for those involved in this new hope for epidemiology, whether they receive Federal funds or not. And Congress must legislate safety protections so that we don't end up with researchers pushing new medical trials into the realm of the Frankenscience of Nuremberg.

This is what America wants to know about. We are not interested in listening to bunch of hypocrites who dare to pontificate about how "the embryo can fit on the tip of a needle," hence, "is not life." Pietists only add confusion to this subject. These Constitutional fools are some of the central figures in our government who fight to deny women choice. They should take them time to listen to the void of their own comments. And when they are finished, they might consider reading God's word concerning the subject of "free will."

 
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