Monday, April 11, 2005

Words and actions

On everything from stem cell research to morning-after pills, scientists are getting the stick lately from those who profess to celebrate a "culture of life." Certainly, scientists are seldom selfless saints; like the rest of us, they are often motivated by prestige or money. And some scientific research may be ethically dubious. But if there's a "culture of life," it's not among the ugly mobs outside of abortion clinics or Terry Schiavo's hospice; it's in the research hospitals and labs where physicians and scientists are discovering new ways to prolong life and ameliorate suffering. If there is a "culture of life," it is not in a Congress shamelessly pandering to the religious right, but among the brave physicians of the Centers for Disease Control or Doctors Without Borders who put their lives on the line in places like Angola and Darfur. If you want to discover an authentic "culture of life," stop listening to President Bush's pious pontifications and read instead Tracy Kidder's inspiring biography of Dr. Paul Farmer, Mountains Beyond Mountains.