Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Human embryos as subjects finally gets debated at UD. Deo gratias!

This past weekend was the Ethics and Life Sciences
conference that I've been sweating over since May, - the one I
tried to get everybody I know who is pro-life and can write
to submit a paper to.

It turned out beautifully. Catholic Scholars at UD wound up sponsoring a
debate on embryonic stem cell research between Dr. Alfonso Gomez-Lobo (a
lovely guy from Georgetown who is also on the President's Council on
Bioethics) and Dr. Richard Hanley, who is from UD and debated Kate
Rogers last year on abortion. As moderator we got Representative Mike
Castle, Delaware's lone guy in the federal House. He is in favor of ESC
research and in fact spearheaded a bi-partisan effort to get Bush to
loosen restrictions.

Alfonso Gomez-Lobo was awesome. Alex Pruss first suggested him to me. He
reminded me of JPII in the way he spoke. He was humble, friendly,
erudite, and most of all he seemed to start from the assumption, as the
Holy Father does, that his audience was as eager to get to the moral
truth of things as he was. There was nothing antagonistic about his
talk. When he got to things that make embryonic stem cell research wrong
he used the phrase, "I find this very troubling", as if we might also,
and then gives the reason. Nothing condemnatory or negative or shrill
about his mode of argument. Richard Hanley was just as gracious. The two
of them were incredibly respect of each other. My heart sang just to see
reason put to such a beautiful use, instead of
being used to manipulate, obfuscate, etc. as has happened in this
political campaign on both sides.

I really could not have been more pleased with how it turned out. If
only all opponents could learn to have arguments in that manner, the
public would be so much better informed, and could make their own

Then Kate Rogers gave a talk later in the conference about how the "Prohibition
of Cloning and Protection of Research" bill that she and I fought in the
DE legislature was "A Model of Misdirection." Excellent.

There were far more talks at the conference that were truly ethical than
I had imagined. Since all of the invited speakers were inimicable to
Catholic ethical teaching, I had thought of the conference as being a
stacked deck, which is why I was so anxious to get "our side"
represented. Art Caplan, the keynote speaker, whom I'd gone up against
(and flubbed my time terribly) a week before on a television news show
(the news media know about Catholic Scholars now! I know how Frances Kisslinger feels now, what a riot to be a spokesperson for 5 people), is like Carl Sagan, popular and
shallow, a showman . But he only made a few digs during his talk, all at
the Presdent's Council on Bioethics, all ad hominem... but I can live
with that.


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