Separate Church & Medicine

The recent debate on Stem Cell Research shows the need to separate medicine
from the control of religion in the same way that the operation of government
needs to be free from theocratic control.
Our forefathers wisely devised a strictly secular government to avoid
the problems other countries had experienced with religion.  This
Separation of Church and State has done well in protecting each American’s
religious liberty, though its doors are being increasingly battered by
certain denominations seeking political power.
Now medical research is under attack by religious forces. This began
in the 1980’s when abortion opponents convinced President Reagan to ban
research using fetal tissue discarded from induced abortions — research
which might have held a cure for the Alzheimer’s Disease now afflicting
this former president.  For the most part, the mainstream media ignored
the event, so the public was never made aware of this issue, letting religion
fly under the radar.  Nor was there alarm raised when President George
H. W. Bush extended the ban.
The 90’s brought a medical breakthrough with stem cells, but that research
progressed slowly, since publicly funded scientists were banned from the
field.  Federal guidelines for the ethical conduct of this new research
languished unfinished, the victim of political wrangling over abortion.
Again, the public was largely unaware of the medical research or the political
hold religionists exerted.
Now, with President G. W. Bush’s recent decision on Stem Cell Research,
everyone at last knows about the tremendous potential of these cells —
the possibility that medical science will be able to cure diseases, grow
new organs, and restore bodies to good health.  Fantastic implications
for the future of the human race!
So where is the anger?  Why isn’t every person who has seen a family
member suffer and die, outraged over the needless delay in bringing us
this far? Why aren’t more people clamoring for government funding WITHOUT
the limitations that President Bush has imposed on the number of stem cell
lines?  We should be furious that such a medical advance has been
and continues to be impeded by narrow, religion-based ideology!
The American public is being held hostage by religion — by those who
consider using fertilized human eggs for research to be wrong, even when
the eggs are excess from fertility treatments. These same people, as Christopher
Reeve points out, make no effort to shut down fertility clinics which routinely
destroy unused eggs, though if you believe that life begins at the moment
of fertilization, they are committing murder by doing so.
Nature does not accord the same “reverence” to the embryo as these religionists
attempt to do, since nature spontaneously aborts 30-50% of conceptions. 
Even the early Catholic theologian St. Thomas did not believe the embryo
is infused with a rational soul until the organism is sufficiently developed
to receive it.  Now, however, modern Catholics aggressively promote
the idea that a rational soul is present at fertilization — a definite
waste, if you consider all those spontaneous abortions!
What if a different religion had gained control of our political process?
What if we had a president dictating laws based on the religious teaching
that blood transfusions are wrong?  Or that cancers create living
cells which should never be destroyed?  Suppose the majority of our
Congress believed in faith healing, could funding for Medicare be cancelled?
Any governmental law or edict which favors one religious doctrine, is,
by its very nature, unfair to Americans not sharing that religious faith. 
How sad that President Bush’s decision on stem cell research falls into
that category.  How tragic for those who wait for a cure!