At the close of World War Two, the Allied forces discovered a most revolting element of the Nazi regime; namely, a vast library of scientific data that had been obtained through Nazi experimentation involving concentration camp captives and prisoners of war. Many of the Nazi experiments involved subjecting prisoners to a variety of tortures that frequently led to their deaths. It was an unmitigated horror that rightly shocked the free world and the Allied voices were unanimous in decrying this sordid exploitation.
However, there was a question lingering in the air. What was now to be done with the knowledge itself – the fruit of the experimentation?
No doubt much of it could be used for the good of mankind and the advancement of science…couldn’t it?
Do you recognize these questions as they might apply to one of the moral controversies in our own time; namely, the embryonic stem cell controversy? The embryos are already dead; one could argue. Why not then let some good come of them?
Well in 1945, the Allied governments made their decision. They said, “No way!”
They refused to stain themselves with the evil inherent in such illicitly achieved science. The data was destroyed, thus raising a banner for the sanctity of life which waved proudly until the more pragmatic, less humane days we now live in.
Even putting aside the fact that the promising health treatments of our era are almost exclusively in the therapeutic use of adult stem cells, doesn’t the decision made in 1945 clearly illustrate what choice should be made in our controversy? Of course. The freedom fighters of WWII made the right decision then. And such is the right decision now. Forego the wickedness of killing people for use of their bodies in scientific reasearch. That is a tragic "dead end" road, in more ways than one.
NOTE -- The Nebraska Coalition for Ethical Research has a very good web site dealing with several critical life issues. Among the best and most helpful of their articles is the position paper the group put together on human embryonic stem cell experimentation. Survey the whole site but you might want to begin with their ESCR article right here.