This Independence Day, we find ourselves anticipating a presidential election that stirs up thoughts on the meaning of our rights and the rights of our children. Thus, it is crucial to consider the true meaning of liberty set forth by the founders who forged these words in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their CREATOR, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty , and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
While the government created by the founders was valid and just, in the past century, American courts eroded its most basic principles, stripping us of our true rights. Sadly, despite the recent talk of patriotism by front running presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama, neither of their platforms has planks with these fundamental rights.
Senator McCain distances himself from President Bush by supporting human embryonic stem cell research (ESCR). However, human ESCR is equivalent to abortion because, in both cases, innocent human beings are killed.
Perhaps Senator McCain does not mean to say that one human life is more important than another based on age. No matter how a single-celled human embryo comes into existence, naturally or artificially, it constitutes a person, a nascent person, but a person nonetheless. There is no scientific basis for discounting the humanity of a person at any time during her or his development. Yet, this is exactly what our government and society condone in the case of embryonic and prenatal persons.
Like many Americans who are desperate for cures, it seems that Senator McCain has been misled by the promises of human embryonic stem cell research promoters. While such ESCR advocates argue that we should make use of “extra embryos,” the bitter irony is that human embryonic stem cells cannot be used at all because they form tumors and lack essential properties needed to maintain mature tissues. Thus, it is a waste of taxpayer dollars to fund human ESCR and it is an egregious violation of the American founding principle of the right to life.
Senator Obama’s current position on human rights is even more troubling. In the U.S. Senate, he argued that the role of a Supreme Court justice is to favor the “weak” over the “strong.” Then again, he praises the Supreme Court’s violations of the right to life in Doe v. Bolton and Roe v. Wade. He also sponsors the misnamed Freedom of Choice Act, which would ban all states’ rights to protect mothers, fathers and innocent children from abortion. This bill would be more accurately named the “License to Kill Act,” but Senator Obama vowed to sign it into law if he is elected president (and Congress passes it). So, although Senator Obama declares that justices should protect the weak, he denies life to the weakest among us, embryonic and unborn persons.
Senator Obama was calculating in consorting with the U.S. abortion industry for campaign funds. In return, he and his wife, Michelle Obama, have boldly cheered Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion chain. This abortion conglomerate took in over $1 billion according to its last annual report; one-third of its annual income, $337 million, was paid with our taxpayer funds; and it made a profit of nearly $115 million.
In addition to Obama’s abortion-business endorsement, he also supports the inhumane and wasteful practice of human ESCR.
How can we stand by and let our hard-earned dollars be used to finance these derelictions of our fundamental rights? Why would we permit someone to hold the highest office in our land without his clear commitment to correcting these grave trespasses against our American principles? Abortion and human embryonic stem cell research are bloody stains on the fabric of American history like slavery and racism before them. Even so, while Senator Obama extols unity and inclusion of all, he promotes an abortion industry that feeds on the deaths of 38% of African American babies – an industry that kills African Americans at a rate equal to their deaths from all other causes.
The truth is that we Americans can no longer hold up the torch of human freedom to other nations if we do not dedicate ourselves to preventing the murder of innocents in our own land. Americans must continue to work for true liberty and justice if we will engender better places for our children, our global neighbors and ourselves.
The clarion credo of the Abolitionists who upended slavery in our great nation must be applied to the unborn: “None of us are truly free, unless we are all free.” This transformative ideal of human beings must apply to us at all stages of our existence, including embryonic and prenatal, if we want to become the nation of truly free women and truly free men. Hence, we should vote to elect a president who puts principle before political expediency.
Now is the time for all Americans to demand that our presidential candidates are men and women of integrity. Now is the time to demand that our presidential candidates make patriotic declarations of independence for everyone by vowing to protect the fundamental right to life of one and all: born, unborn and embryonic.
James L. Sherley, M.D., Ph.D. is a stem cell biologist in Boston, Massachusetts.