The Path of Least Resistance
By Rev. Robert Fleischmann, National Director of Christian Life Resources
Many famous people from the past and present have observed an important lesson on life: there are no shortcuts to progress. In fact, shortcuts can even sabotage progress. Consider the following:
We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters…that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules…and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square. (Michelle Obama)
There are no shortcuts when it comes to getting out of debt. (Dave Ramsey)
There are no shortcuts to victory. We must commit ourselves to the slow, painstaking work of foreign policy day by day and year by year. (Richard Lugar)
Be true to the game, because the game will be true to you. If you try to shortcut the game, then the game will shortcut you. (Michael Jordan)
There are no shortcuts to anyplace worth going. (Beverly Sills)
Things that look like shortcuts are actually detours (disguised as less work). (Seth Godin)
You always reap what you sow; there is no shortcut. (Stephen Covey)
There is no shortcut to holiness; it must be the business of our whole lives. (William Wilberforce)
Despite such observations medical researchers often insist on taking shortcuts, or “paths of least resistance,” to solve human problems. When this occurs, it often comes at a high human cost.
Take, for example, the efforts to eradicate genetic diseases. Frustrated by the challenges in finding curative solutions, some researchers pursue a “shortcut” to eradicating disease. Their approach is to refine the technology to diagnose the potential for such diseases in early human development. Before the smallest of human lives can continue to grow, scientists test it in the embryonic stage, and if it carries the potential for a disease, they destroy that developing life in favor of something that looks more healthy.
To accomplish this, the scientific world takes a new twist in terminology as a way to reprogram the public into accepting this treatment of human life.
There was a time when we accepted and taught that life began at the moment of the union of a sperm and egg (aka as fertilization). Back then we called it “conception.”
When interest grew in reproductive technology and chemical forms of birth control, a redefinition of conception occurred. Today, the term “conception” is used not to describe fertilization but implantation of the developing embryo in the uterine lining.
This redefinition permits a more conscience-free destruction of developing human life. When unused or unwanted embryos exist after an in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure they are referred to as pre-conception. To extract embryonic stem cells, human life in its embryonic stage must be ended. Yet, that life is clinically defined as pre-conception. In fact, at times the wording is deceptively altered to explain that embryo destruction takes place before there is a pregnancy.
This shortcut, or “path of least resistance,” of eliminating diseases essentially amounts to “search and destroy” efforts on human embryos. These embryos are not benign sperm or benign ovum. They are joined and the process of life has commenced, and in order to pursue those shortcuts these youngest of human lives must be ended.
Recently I wrote about Iceland’s near eradication of Down syndrome – not by treatment of the condition but by abortion of those children who might have the genetic disorder while still in the womb. Embryonic search-and-destroy efforts just move the process up a few weeks.
In an August 18, 2017, article in Nature entitled, “China’s embrace of embryo selection raises thorny questions,” the author explained how the Chinese are working to destroy such lives after fertilization but before implantation. Chinese fertility centers engage in what is called PGD (preimplantation genetic diagnosis). This component of the IVF process involves the analysis of developing embryos, and, if a genetic disease is suspected, those lives are terminated before implantation.
The author, David Cyranoski, makes this chilling observation:
“The conditions there are ripe: genetic diseases carry heavy stigma, people with disabilities get very little support and religious and ethical push-back against PGD is almost non-existent.”
Some may argue that this embryo selection process might be better than bringing children into the world who must suffer with their disease and become a strain on the family and society. When those thoughts cross your mind, you have bought into the eugenics mentality in which some lives are thought to be disposable. The argument that embryonic termination might appear to be merciful – even charitable – is flimsy logic. What about those people who were not shown such “mercy” as embryos, and they survived? What of those in which the diagnosis is in error, and they, in fact, do not have the genetic condition? What conditions qualify for termination, which do not, and who decides?
I advocate investing substantial resources in curative, corrective, and rehabilitative measures. Solving the problem by killing the patient is not a cure.
The Spanish philosopher, George Santayana, wisely observed: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” As we move further in time from the atrocities of World War II, the Holocaust, and the global eugenic efforts of the early 20th century, the more social attitudes demonstrate a willingness to repeat past errors. We must learn that shortcuts like this are just plain wrong.
~ Rev. Robert Fleischmann, National Director of Christian Life Resources