Archibishop Burke highlights an important contradiction in this week's column:
Mr. Danforth and other proponents of Amendment 2 believe that human life begins with the implantation of the embryo in the womb of a woman, denying the identity of human life to the embryo before implantation. But what is the human embryo before implantation, if not a human being? Implantation adds nothing to the identity of the being, it only provides the natural place for the next stages of its development. The standard textbooks of embryology define the beginning of human life at fertilization or artificial generation by cloning.
Following the logic of Mr. Danforth, I suppose, Amendment 2, which claims to prohibit human cloning, actually prohibits the implantation of the embryo produced by somatic cell nuclear transfer or cloning in the womb of woman. Why? The obvious answer is: Because it is a human life which, once implanted in the womb, will simply continue its growth, in accord with the full identity which it already has.
I'll draw this out a bit. The pro-choice, pro-research position rests on these premises:
- The embryo is not a human life until it is implanted in a uterus.
- A woman has absolute dominon over her body, including the right to end a pregnancy.
Given those premises, why would implanting an embryo created via somatic cell nuclear transfer into a woman's uterus be at all morally problematic, indeed so very problematic that it's the one thing proponents say they explicitly ban.
This seems a strange place to draw the line. And indeed, it is an extremely bright line. If they have there way, everything on one side of the line would be constitutionally protected, so precious that it cannot be touched by the democratic process; on the other side everyhing is banned.
The only reason I can see for drawing the line there is political expediency -- the proponents know that people have a negative reaction to the word "cloning," so they have tailored te amendment so they can plausibly say they share this rejection of cloning.