I don’t make predictions, but I have no doubt that if the Edwards campaign pushes on issues like this, even if they are able to win the Democratic nomination for president, they will not win the State of North Carolina in a general election. Maybe they don’t care, but they should have seen from the Gore campaign how embarrassing it is to not carry your home state. I just read the following statement from Elizabeth Edwards, from her first speech since she announced the return of her cancer. She has chosen to address the subject of fetal stem cell research. Here’s a bit of what she said:
“We’re talking about using something to save ourselves and our children,” she said. “Instead of throwing it away, don’t we want to use it in a way that’s productive?”
Some opponents of the work believe that life begins at conception and that using stem cells is tantamount to killing a human.
But Edwards said opponents will not be able to halt the work, whatever their beliefs. “You’re not going to stop it by saying there is no federal funding,” she said. “You’re just going to stop it from happening here.”
To quote one of my favorite theologians Stan “the man” Hauerwas, in regards to fetal tissue experimentation: “What if it were discovered that fetal tissue were a delicacy. Could you eat it?” While shocking–intentionally so–Hauerwas’ statement illustrates one of the foundational beliefs of Christian ethics: no good can come of an evil, therefore the ends never justify the means. In this comment, Mrs. Edwards reveals her ethical foundation to be largely that of the general sort of American utilitarianism that flourishes in the absence of any sort of solid moral teaching. Rather than taking the time to wrestle with moral implications, this system finds it much easier to run a moral calculus and base decisions on a cost-benefit analysis.
I can’t condemn Mrs. Edward’s too harshly, but I would hope that in one of her stays in the Triangle area, she and her hubby might sit in on a basic ethics course at Duke. I would also say that this sort of thinking is why I feel alienated from not just the Democratic Party, but the Republican party also–for each has some major issues that prevent me as a Christian from supporting them. That’s one reason I will always register as an independent. Too many Christians have come to associate their faith with one party or the other, and this is at least a terrible mistake, if not a form of idolatry.
Here’s a related essay I wrote comparing how a Christian would face a sticky moral decision vs. a utilitarian, entitled “The Christian apprehension of Tragedy.”