July 31, 2001
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, today we're being asked to choose between two options dealing with the controversies surrounding cloning and stem cell research.
As an obstetrician gynecologist with 30 years of experience with strong pro-life convictions I find this debate regarding stem cell research and human cloning off-track, dangerous, and missing some very important points.
This debate is one of the most profound ethical issues of all times. It has moral, religious, legal, and ethical overtones.
However, this debate is as much about process as it is the problem we are trying to solve.
This dilemma demonstrates so clearly why difficult problems like this are made much more complex when we accept the notion that a powerful centralized state should provide the solution, while assuming it can be done precisely and without offending either side, which is a virtual impossibility.
Centralized governments' solutions inevitably compound the problem we're trying to solve. The solution is always found to be offensive to those on the losing side of the debate. It requires that the loser contribute through tax payments to implement the particular program and ignores the unintended consequences that arise. Mistakes are nationalized when we depend on Presidential orders or a new federal law. The assumption that either one is capable of quickly resolving complex issues is unfounded. We are now obsessed with finding a quick fix for this difficult problem.
Since federal funding has already been used to promote much of the research that has inspired cloning technology, no one can be sure that voluntary funds would have been spent in the same manner.
There are many shortcomings of cloning and I predict there are more to come. Private funds may well have flowed much more slowly into this research than when the government/taxpayer does the funding.
The notion that one person, i.e., the President, by issuing a Presidential order can instantly stop or start major research is frightening. Likewise, the U.S. Congress is no more likely to do the right thing than the President by rushing to pass a new federal law.
Political wisdom in dealing with highly charged and emotional issues is not likely to be found.
The idea that the taxpayer must fund controversial decisions, whether it be stem cell research, or performing abortion overseas, I find repugnant.
The original concept of the republic was much more suited to sort out the pros and cons of such a difficult issue. It did so with the issue of capital punishment. It did so, until 1973, with the issue of abortion. As with many other issues it has done the same but now unfortunately, most difficult problems are nationalized.
Decentralized decision making and privatized funding would have gone a long way in preventing the highly charged emotional debate going on today regarding cloning and stem cell research.
There is danger in a blanket national prohibition of some questionable research in an effort to protect what is perceived as legitimate research. Too often there are unintended consequences. National legalization of cloning and financing discredits life and insults those who are forced to pay.
Even a national law prohibiting cloning legitimizes a national approach that can later be used to undermine this original intent. This national approach rules out states from passing any meaningful legislation and regulation on these issues.
There are some medical questions not yet resolved and careless legislation may impede legitimate research and use of fetal tissue. For instance, should a spontaneously aborted fetus, non-viable, not be used for stem cell research or organ transplant? Should a live fetus from an ectopic pregnancy removed and generally discarded not be used in research? How is a spontaneous abortion of an embryo or fetus different from an embryo conceived in a dish?
Being pro-life and pro-research makes the question profound and I might say best not answered by political demagogues, executive orders or emotional hype.
How do problems like this get resolved in a free society where government power is strictly limited and kept local? Not easily, and not perfectly, but I am confident it would be much better than through centralized and arbitrary authority initiated by politicians responding to emotional arguments.
For a free society to function, the moral standards of the people are crucial. Personal morality, local laws, and medical ethics should prevail in dealing with a subject such as this. This law, the government, the bureaucrats, the politicians can't make the people more moral in making these judgments.
Laws inevitably reflect the morality or immorality of the people. The Supreme Court did not usher in the 60s revolution that undermined the respect for all human life and liberty. Instead, the people's attitude of the 60s led to the Supreme Court Roe vs. Wade ruling in 1973 and contributed to a steady erosion of personal liberty.
If a centralized government is incapable of doing the right thing, what happens when the people embrace immorality and offer no voluntary ethical approach to difficult questions such as cloning?
The government then takes over and predictably makes things much worse. The government cannot instill morality in the people. An apathetic and immoral society inspires
centralized, rigid answers while the many consequences to come are ignored. Unfortunately, once centralized government takes charge, the real victim becomes personal liberty.[Page: H4927] GPO's PDF
What can be done? The first step Congress should take is to stop all funding of research for cloning and other controversial issues. Obviously all research in a free society should be done privately, thus preventing this type of problem. If this policy were to be followed, instead of less funding being available for research, there would actually be more.
Second, the President should issue no Executive Order because under the Constitution he does not have the authority either to promote or stop any particular research nor does the Congress. And third, there should be no sacrifice of life. Local law officials are responsible for protecting life or should not participate in its destruction.
We should continue the ethical debate and hope that the medical leaders would voluntarily do the self-policing that is required in a moral society. Local laws, under the Constitution, could be written and the reasonable ones could then set the standard for the rest of the nation.
This problem regarding cloning and stem cell research has been made much worse by the federal government involved, both by the pro and con forces in dealing with the federal government's involvement in embryonic research. The problem may be that a moral society does not exist, rather than a lack of federal laws or federal police. We need no more federal mandates to deal with difficult issues that for the most part were made worse by previous government mandates.
If the problem is that our society lacks moral standards and governments can't impose moral standards, hardly will this effort to write more laws solve this perplexing and intriguing question regarding the cloning of a human being and stem cell research.
Neither option offered today regarding cloning provides a satisfactory solution. Unfortunately, the real issue is being ignored.