Alexander's Column

From Conception to Natural Death

Mark Alexander · Aug. 10, 2001

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: It is with much grief that The Federalist records the death of Maureen Reagan, oldest daughter of President Ronald Reagan, from melanoma. Nancy Reagan said of her step-daughter, “Like all fathers and daughters, there was a unique bond between them. Maureen had his gift of communication, his love of politics, and when she believed in a cause, she was not afraid to fight hard for it. … Ronnie and I loved Mermie very much. We will miss her terribly.”

To send messages of condolence to the Reagan family, visit – and use the e-mail link at the bottom of the page.

In the news this week, at the center of debates most critical to the issue of federally distributed powers are those involving uniform definitions and protections of the right to life for all citizens. Late Thursday, President Bush reached his long-awaited decision on using tax dollars for embryonic stem cell research, and – tragically – crossed the line, endorsing a “limited” destruction of the tiniest and most vulnerable form of human life.

Suffice it to repeat what Pope John Paul II personally said to Mr. Bush two weeks ago: “A free and virtuous society, which America aspires to be, must reject practices that devalue and violate human life at any stage, from conception to natural death. … Experience is already showing how tragic coarsening of consciences accompanies the assault on innocent human life in the world, leading to accommodation and acquiescence in the face of other related evils such as euthanasia, infanticide, and, most recently, proposals for the creations for research purposes of human embryos destined to destruction in the process.”

Addressing the nation, the President said: “Research on embryonic stem cells raises profound ethical questions, because extracting the stem cell destroys the embryo, and thus destroys its potential for life. Like a snowflake, each of these embryos is unique, with the unique genetic potential of an individual human being. As I thought through this issue I kept returning to two fundamental questions. First, are these frozen embryos human life and therefore something precious to be protected? And second, if they’re going to be destroyed anyway, shouldn’t they be used for a greater good, for research that has the potential to save and improve other lives?”

While we praise President Bush’s endeavor to consider the moral implications, we must take issue with what we believe to be a critically flawed strain of logic. Though making reference to human embryos with phrases like, “potential for life,” “potential of an individual,” and “are these frozen embryos human life,” he did not hold firm to the principle of protecting all life as sacred – created in the image of God. An embryo is life, not “potential life,” and therefore deserves paramount protection equal to that which we are entitled.“

But then, "experience is already showing how tragic coarsening of consciences accompanies the assault on innocent human life.”

In other news, a similar assault on the sanctity of life surfaced at a National Academy of Sciences symposium in Washington, DC. Mere days after the House of Representatives passed legislation outlawing human cloning, three scientists stated their intentions to begin human cloning soon. Animal cloning expert Dr. Ian Wilmut, who successfully cloned Dolly the sheep in Scotland, averred this might not be so easy: “We are seeing a great range of abnormalities. We should expect a similar outcome if people attempt to produce a cloned human.”

We suppose the plan is to destroy the “abnormal ones.”

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