Jason Altmire: Pro-Death Politics
I appreciate your article on Jason Altmire's supposedly "pro-life" (his words) vote in favor of embryonic stem cell research. When he ran for Congress against an authentic pro-life candidate (Melissa Hart), I wrote on my blog that I didn't believe him, so I'm not exactly surprised.
His comments about his UPMC experience inclining him to vote for this legislation are preposterous. Altmire served there not as a researcher but rather as a lobbyist and a doler-out of funds to charities, some of whom turned out to be grateful enough to donate money to his campaign. No research conducted at UPMC or elsewhere has led to results with embryonic stem cells that's not available with other means.
Altmire characterizes his vote as "pro-life," a continuation of his "up-is-down" and "black-is-white" approach to reality. The destruction of embryos for scientific and economic gain is not in any sense "pro-life."
Of course, no pro-life organization agrees with Altmire on his position. No church, group, or individual that believes life begins at conception (as it rather obviously does and is even regarded in PA law as so doing) supports Altmire's stand.
Moreover, no decent society believes that everything it can do -- technically --- should therefore be done. In China, organs are removed from executed prisoners (with surgeons standing by) for use by individuals needing transplants. China apparently sells many of those organs for five-figure and six-figure amounts to people (including Americans) who can afford them. I'm sure the government of China would defend that approach as "pro-life," since of course prisoners being executed aren't going to have a life.
The novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky once said: "If God is dead, then everything is permitted." He didn't mean necessarily that one even has to believe in God to keep "everything" from happening. He meant that if an individual has no basic principles about life and its value, then God help us.
My wife suffers from one of the physical afflictions Altmire mentioned in support of his vote. She opposes embryonic stem cell research, mainly because she doesn't want to enhance her own life at the expense of devaluing life in general.
If we as a society start making arbitary distinctions about which life is more valuable than others, we will soon be hurtling down that proverbial slippery slope. We may just find that when everything is permitted, nothing remains of sustainable value.
I fear that the votes of Jason Altmire may continue to be largely indistinguishable from the votes of, say, Nancy Pelosi, for whom political concerns always seem to take precedence over ethical considerations. That's not exactly in keeping with the views of the people in the 4th congressional district.
4th Congressional District