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Wanted : Dead or Alive

By Colin McCullough
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
December 2, 1999
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Researchers at the University of Nebraska have taken it upon themselves to choose a side on the most controversial issue in the history of the United States. By using aborted fetal tissue to conduct medical research, the university has taken a stance on abortion. By doing so, the university has indirectly supported abortion and overstepped its bounds by taking a side on an issue it should remain neutral towards.

While the University of Nebraska is not performing abortions, it is condoning an activity that, though legal, has divided the state and the entire country. Now that the abortion has been performed, there is no doubt, all that remains of the fetus is now dead. Proponents of the study argue since the abortions have already been performed, what remains will go to waste, if not used for scientific research.

This is true. Likewise, all dissected frogs presented in an elementary school classroom have already been prepared for dissection.

However, networks have been established to allow children who are morally opposed to the dissection of frogs to participate in scientific experiments without actually using a frog. All the while, it is legal to perform dissection on a frog.

But just as it is unfair to ask one student to go against their conscience in the pursuit of scientific knowledge, it is wrong to ask an entire state to condone activity that has divided our country.

Students opposed to the dissection of frogs argued they did not want to participate in the dissection of frogs because they were wasting a perfectly good frog. What the University of Nebraska needs to understand is that in the minds of many Nebraska residents, including Governor Mike Johanns, the fetal tissue is the waste of a perfectly good baby.

It is true; there is no absolute proof that life exists while a fetus is carried in the womb. Nor, is there any proof that it does not exist. The status quo is unclear. But there are people on both sides of the issue who hold strong beliefs and the University of Nebraska felt it must side with one belief. The University of Nebraska has erred by doing so.

Likewise, it would be wrong if the University of Nebraska initiated an effort to change abortion law within the state and eliminate it. This is not the role of a university. Nebraska must know its limits. A university is composed of individuals with a variety of backgrounds and beliefs - this is what makes a university so great.

However, the University of Nebraska has ignored the fact that its practices are seen as unethical, and has indirectly supported a practice that is unethical in the minds of the residents who fund the school and the student body, faculty and staff which comprise the school.

By saying that because someone is unborn they are not alive is the same as saying they are dead. One of two choices - dead or alive. Dead like a rock or alive like a little kid on Christmas morning.

It cannot be conclusively proven that what a mother carries around in her womb is a life. Nor can it be proven that what she carries is not a life.

But given a scenario where you were unconscious, and someone came up to you to see if you had a pulse, suppose they were not sure they could get an accurate reading. Would you prefer they assume that you were alive or assume you were dead?

In this scenario, the fetus is the unconscious person and we are all searching for a pulse.

Residents of Nebraska and members of its student body say they've found one and the university has turned a deaf ear to their beliefs.

The University of Nebraska, though perhaps well-intentioned in their pursuit of scientific discovery, has spoken for the public by using government funds and facilities to conduct research members of the public are opposed to.

The University of Nebraska should continue its academic research and allow the knowledge it gathers to be shared, but not at the expense of the individual beliefs that comprise the university.

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