I hear all this talk about how the Republicans are going to work in dealing with parents who have both the joy…and the difficulty of raising a child who has a developmental disability, who were born with a birth defect,” he said. “Well, guess what folks? If you care about it, why don't you support stem cell research?
This shows Joe Biden's confusion on at least two levels about a major ethical issue facing our nation. This confusion--or lack of understanding--strikes me as especially unconscionable coming from a man who has been a U.S. Senator for nearly 36 years and who also wants to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.
Here's Biden's first confusion. Republicans are not against stem cell research as he claims. Biden's comments are confusing because--knowingly or unknowingly--he has not distinguished between two completely distinct types of stem cell research--distinct in their medical efficacy and distinct in their moral ramifications.
Republicans do support adult stem cell research for two reasons. First, it has produced scores of medical treatments already--for various forms of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries, and the list goes on. Second, adult stem cell research is not morally questionable.
Republicans do not support embryonic stem cell research also for two reasons. First, it has not produced a single medical treatment that is being used on the market to help anyone. Zero. Second, if it did, it would be at the expense of human lives in the earliest stage of development, at least according to the views of Republicans. So embryonic stem cell research does have a moral shroud over the procedure.
It is deeply troubling to me that Senator Biden seems not to be aware of these distinctions that have been central to the discussion. If he is aware, then his comments are demagogic.
Here is Biden's second stunning area of confusion. He apparently does not understand the pro-life view. The very reason Republicans are in favor of giving care and offering kindness to those with disabilities and birth defects is the same reason they are against using the youngest human beings as sacrificial fodder for medical advancement. Human beings have innate dignity at every stage of development and therefore deserve the same respect and care at any level of development.
There's no inconsistency at all. None. And the fact that Joe Biden is mystified on this point shows that he is either remarkably ignorant on the issue or that he is playing on the ignorance of his audience. A problem either way you cut it.