Fetal Tissue Research

It was encouraging, in any event, that three scientists made reference, even though obliquely, to the ban's being based on moral or political, not on scientific, grounds. It would have been more encouraging if they had stated flatly that imposition of the ban was neither a moral nor a political issue, but a religious issue. It is a serious threat to freedom when, in a country whose constitution requires separation of church and state, funding for a valuable component of medical research can be

Alfred Harper
Dec 12, 1993
It was encouraging, in any event, that three scientists made reference, even though obliquely, to the ban's being based on moral or political, not on scientific, grounds. It would have been more encouraging if they had stated flatly that imposition of the ban was neither a moral nor a political issue, but a religious issue. It is a serious threat to freedom when, in a country whose constitution requires separation of church and state, funding for a valuable component of medical research can be banned because some aspects of it are considered not to conform with precepts certain religious organizations assert are ordained by divine revelation.

The conflict between religion and science is not dead, or of only historical significance, as many would have us believe. It is as real as it was when Galileo was forced to recant. The conflict is less physically threatening now than it was in Galileo's time because the power of religious hierarchies has waned. Violence, nonetheless, is still countenanced by organizations that try to force the entire population to conform with their religious beliefs about reproduction and creation.

Although the current political leadership is disposed more strongly toward protecting freedom than abridging it, to ensure continuity of the policy will require scientists to stand firmly against actions that subordinate the autonomy of reason to the doctrines of a church.

ALFRED E. HARPER
381 N.W. 112th St.
Seattle, Wash. 98177-4840