August 03, 2017
Nobody's perfect -- but scientists are working on it. For the first time on U.S. soil, a team of researchers announced that it had successfully "edited" the DNA of a human embryo to fix a genetic heart problem. Although the scientists are insisting the tests are very basic, the ethics surrounding them are anything but. The goal, they explain, is to correct disease-causing genes in embyros before the babies are born. And while it sounds like an honorable pursuit, the path to get there is filled with moral landmines.
As the Washington Post points out, this is just the latest development in the kill-to-cure community, where scientists discard human life to improve others'. "The embryos were allowed to grow for only a few days, and there was never any intention to implant them to create a pregnancy," reporters note. Apart from the systematic destruction of embryos, the Post goes on to warn, "This most recent work is particularly sensitive because it involves changes to the germ line -- that is, genes that could be passed on to future generations. The U.S. forbids the use of federal funds for embryo research, and the FDA is prohibited from considering any clinical trials involving genetic modifications that can be inherited."
While some cheered the breakthrough, others were horrified. After all, experts wonder, where do you draw the line? First genetically-modified genes, then what? Animal-human hybrids? Human clones? Designer babies? Manufacturing young humans in a Petri dish with genetic modifications is an abuse of science -- but it also takes resources away from groundbreaking treatments for people who are already suffering from diseases.
The irony of these trials, FRC's Arina Grossu argued on WUSA 9, is that "People are afraid of GMO food, and here we are creating genetically-modified human embryos. And not only are we creating them, we're manipulating them and killing them. In fact, in this process... 12 human embryos were created, manipulated, and then killed. This is not ethical." Even the scientific community has no idea what kind of genes will result from these tests -- and yet it is willing to change the human genome forever.
People aren't guinea pigs. And if anything goes under the microscope, it should be how the government responds. When President Trump decided to keep Obama's NIH director, Francis Collins, pro-lifers were understandably concerned. Led by Congressman Jim Banks (R-Ind.), dozens of conservatives wrote a letter to the White House, asking him to appoint a director who "aligns with [Trump's] own priorities." Among their biggest concerns, the members warn that Collins "has a record of supporting human embryonic stem cell research, science that involves the dismemberment and instrumental use of human embryos from fertility clinics;" and "supports the unethical and scientifically-questionable practice of human cloning" (which creates embyros for the sole purpose of harvesting their cells before killing them).
"We believe the American people deserve a leader at this agency who is your appointment, whose principles align with your pro-life values, and your new administration's policy goals." That has never been more important than now, when research like this has created a legal and moral vacuum that President Trump should fill with guidance and oversight. Otherwise, if we're not careful, science's slippery slope will be on the verge of a moral avalanche.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.