Religion Versus Medicine

 Posted by on 22 July 2006 at 8:25 am  Religion
Jul 222006

An Ayn Rand Institute Press Release:

Opponents of Embryonic Stem Cell Research Are Opponents of Human Life
July 20, 2006

IRVINE, CA–”President Bush’s claim that embryonic stem cell research violates ‘the dignity of human life’ is morally obscene,” said Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.

“This research has the potential to rescue millions of individuals from painful and life-threatening diseases. Anyone who places the welfare of a few undifferentiated cells above that of actual human beings cannot claim to value human life.

“There are no rational grounds for ascribing rights to an unconscious cluster of cells smaller than a grain of sand. But the opposition to embryonic stem cell research is not based on reason–it’s based purely on religious dogma. From the development of anesthesia to the introduction of birth control, religion has consistently opposed scientific and medical progress. Today, with their assaults on evolution, cloning, and stem cell research, the religious right is attempting to drag us back to the Dark Ages.

“Anyone who values human life must stand up for science and against President Bush’s attempt to impose his religious agenda on America.”

I’m slightly familiar with the Catholic Church’s opposition to the use of anesthesia in childbirth and inoculation against smallpox in centuries past, as well as the Christian Science rejection of medical treatment and the Jehovah’s Witness ban upon blood transfusion. I’m more familiar with the Catholic Church’s ongoing war against birth control, abortion, and stem cell research — as partially or wholly joined by evangelical Protestants.

I’d like to learn more. Can anyone recommend a good history of religious opposition to medical technology? (I’d prefer not to limit myself to just Catholicism or even Christianity, although recommendations along those lines would be welcome too.)

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