‘Life-enhancing’ techniques costing lives

It is a sad day in history when a genetically modified burrito garners higher concern than a genetically modified baby.  Recently, President Obama removed language from the proposed FY 2017 budget that was previously included in the FY 2016 Omnibus to protect against the genetic manipulation of human embryos.  Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) had included provisions that would prevent the FDA from allowing funding for “research in which a human embryo is intentionally created or modified to include a heritable genetic modification.”  This language is said to fill in a fissure of the Dickey-Wicker Amendment of 1996.  That amendment was renewed under the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 and still stands today.  It includes language that restricts federal funding for:

(1) the creation of a human embryo or embryos for research purposes; or (2) research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death greater than that allowed for research under applicable Federal regulations.

Many Americans do not understand the fuss over seemingly minute inclusions or why conservatives would argue against scientific exploration that treats diseases and improves humanity.  But what most don’t know is that genetic modifications come at an extremely high and dangerous price.

In the case of three-parent embryonic procedures, added ethical questions come into play.  In a process like pro-nuclear transfer, there are two human embryos (with an egg-and-sperm nucleus) involved.  In the first embryo with the mutated DNA, the cytoplasm is removed and discarded.  In the second non-mutated embryo, the cytoplasm is kept, and the pro-nuclei are removed and discarded.  The pro-nuclei from the first embryo are inserted into the cytoplasm of the second embryo, creating a three-parent embryo.  To put it simply: this means that a human baby is thrown out in the process.  For those who believe that life begins at conception, this is a major concern.

According to research, procedures involving “germline” genetic engineering of three-parent embryos and genetically modified children are intended to create new humans, not simply to treat the disease.  Dr. David A. Prentice, Ph.D., of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, notes that mitochondrial DNA genetic modification or nuclear DNA genetic modification techniques can be tested on born individuals; therefore, it is not a necessity to use human embryos.  

In the case of the Aderholt provision, the congressman acknowledged that the specific inheritable genetic modifications could conceivably be passed on to forthcoming generations – causing possible effects about which scientists know very little.  The language protected against using human embryos as the guinea pigs.  When it comes to experimentation using human embryos, the ends do not justify the means.  It is contradictory to end or put in danger the life of a human embryo in the name of scientific advancement.  But, as we’ve witnessed thus far, our president does not place the same value on life in the womb as the congressman (or much of America) does.

That said, the chief issue is that we humans are attempting to play the role of God; not only are we manipulating cells to make human beings, but we’re also gifting ourselves the ability to discard life at a whim.  These are precarious endeavors at best, both of which only our Creator, Who has the wisdom and all-encompassing knowledge to accomplish it, is fit to implement.

Scientific innovation is extremely beneficial to curing disease and lengthening lifespans.  However, “human betterment” experimentation that terminates life is incongruous at best.  If Americans are more pro-life than ever today, our policies should reflect it.  The recent budget decision simply underscores America’s need for a pro-life president in 2016 – someone willing to speak on behalf of the highly unrepresented, tiniest human beings.