The Obama Administration and the Treatment of Human Embryos
by The Neuhaus Colloquium
September 13, 2010
An Executive Summary of the Statement of the First Annual Neuhaus Colloquium.
“Until every human being created in the image and likeness of God is protected in law and cared for in life, we shall not weary, we shall not rest. And, in this the great human rights struggle of our time and all times, we shall overcome.” With these words, the late Richard John Neuhaus concluded his last major pro-life address.
Neuhaus was long a civil rights leader, both when it was popular and when it was not. In the early 1970s, he was poised to become the nation’s next great liberal public intellectual—the Reinhold Niebuhr of his generation. He had everything he needed to be not merely accepted but lionized by the liberal establishment: his natural gifts as a thinker, writer, and speaker; his background as an outspoken and prominent civil rights campaigner, indeed, someone who had marched literally arm-in-arm with his friend Martin Luther King; his leadership in founding one of the most visible anti-Vietnam war organizations.
Then something happened: Abortion. Neuhaus opposed abortion for the same reasons he had fought for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. At the root of his thinking was the conviction that human beings, as creatures fashioned in the image and likeness of God, possess a profound, inherent, and equal dignity. This dignity must be respected by all and protected by law. That, so far as Neuhaus was concerned, was not only a biblical mandate but also the bedrock principle of the American constitutional order. the rest-Excellent!
In the name of the American people and with the funds provided by them, the Obama administration has begun to incentivize the exploitation and destruction of human life for scientific research. It has done so without addressing the profound moral issues at stake, without offering a serious argument in defense of its approach, and in spite of the fact that alternatives to the destruction of embryos are emerging in stem-cell science.