Focus on the Family’s James Dobson said Wednesday that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist betrayed pro-life voters with his flip-flop on stem cells, comparing the destruction of human embryos for research to experiments on humans done in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust.
Dobson devoted two days of his radio broadcast to discussions of stem cell research. “We need to let our listeners know in greater detail what we consider to be the very unfortunate betrayal of the pro-life and pro-family community that occurred last week,” he said at the beginning of Wednesday’s program.
Dobson said Frist, R-Tenn., who in April participated in a program called “Justice Sunday” against use the Senate filibuster to block appointment federal judges, “has held himself out as being unequivocally pro-life until this point.”
That commitment, he said, “cracked” when Frist announced on the Senate floor last Friday that he now supports federal funding for medical research using frozen embryos left over from fertility treatments.
Dobson described Frist’s announcement “that he would no longer favor protection for embryonic human life” as “a very sad moment for this country, and especially coming from someone that we admire and have relied on in many of these same kinds of issues.”
The religious broadcaster said Frist is just the latest in a series of Republicans who have gone the same route after seeing “it somehow politically to their advantage to abandon the unborn child.”
“This feels a whole lot like political expediency to me,” Dobson said, noting that Frist “became a hero to us” when he stood up to Democrats to demand an up-or-down vote on President Bush’s judicial nominees.
“I had rather be contradicted and disagreed with by somebody who comes from the left end of the spectrum than stabbed in the back by someone I thought was a friend,” Dobson said. “And I think that is what has happened.”
Dobson said Frist’s betrayal is not personal. “Sen. Frist has not put the knife in my back, but it’s essentially placed in the backs of all pro-life and pro-family people around the country,” he said.
Dobson said expansion of research to allow destruction of embryos to create new lines of stem cells for research “leads in a straight line to cloning” and could end in “fetal harvesting.”
Dobson repeatedly challenged assertions by Frist and others that embryonic stem cell research holds great promise, saying the claim isn’t backed up by research, while touting advances using adult stem cells, which can be harvested from umbilical cords or bone marrow without what he considers destroying human life.
Even if destroying embryos to treat illnesses like juvenile diabetes or spinal cord injury were possible, Dobson said, it would still be wrong.
“In World War II, the Nazis experimented on human beings in horrible ways in the concentration camps, and I imagine, if you wanted to take the time to read about it, there would have been some discoveries there that benefited mankind.
“You know, if you take a utilitarian approach, that if something results in good, then it is good. But that’s obviously not true.
“We condemn what the Nazis did because there are some things that we always could do but we haven’t done, because science always has to be guided by ethics and by morality. And you remove ethics and morality, and you get what happened in Nazi Germany.
“That’s why to Sen. Frist and the others who are saying, ‘Look what may be accomplished.’ Yeah, but there’s another issue, there’s a higher order of ethics here.”
Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics criticized Dobson for demagoguery and for comparing medical researchers to Nazis.
“Dobson reached a new demagogic decibel with his diatribe against Frist,” Parham said. “Comparing pro-health medical research on frozen embryos destined for the disposal to Nazis experiments in concentration camps cries wolf.”
“These two realities are not morally synonymous,” Parham said. “Moreover, such a comparison cheapens the Holocaust.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaiy.com.