We need more Republicans like Frist - Ed Brock

There's hope for the Grand Ol' Party yet.

It was slightly encouraging when former First Lady Nancy Reagan started calling for more funding for stem cell research. She provided an emotional appeal as the widow of a man who suffered from one of many diseases and disorders that stem cell therapy may be able to help.

But Sen. Bill Frist really summed it up well when he said that he believes both that human life begins at conception and that stem cell research must be supported.

That's a fine distinction that some people seem unable to grasp.

A human life does begin at conception, or at least the long process of growth that comprises a human life. Birth is really a minor transition that occurs after that process has already begun.

And there is a distinction between an embryo in its first few weeks of development and a fetus, especially when that fetus becomes viable. That's when you can start thinking about it as a baby.

As a new parent I've been witnessing this process closely for over a year now. Every day it amazes me more and more and every day I grow in respect for that process.

But I also know from personal experience that not every embryo will complete that process of growth. There is a distinction between an embryo and a developed human being.

The embryo doesn't know it's alive, for one thing, and it doesn't suffer.

What's more important to realize, too, is that the bill Frist supports actually shows a lot of respect for these potential humans. It would open up research on embryos that are created during In Vitro Fertilization procedures that would be destroyed any way. Right now there are reportedly about 400,000 of them.

In vitro is a good thing. It allows couples to enjoy that miracle of life we're talking about, couples who ordinarily would remain childless or have to adopt.

However, in so doing it creates several "back up" embryos, shall we say, that are kept until one of them takes. Unless the donor couple wants to keep those embryos they are, as I mentioned before, destroyed.

It's regrettable that this should happen, but does it mean that we should ban artificial insemination procedures? Of course not. But this new law could allow some good to come of it.

Though I can't speak for Frist, it seems that he realizes that there is a moral distinction between sacrificing potential human life for existing human life. I've always known that there are people who call themselves conservatives who also have the flexibility to accept this distinction.

But Frist is extremely high up in the party, and by taking the position that he has given me hope that the moderates may reclaim the nation's most powerful sect from the grips of the dogmatic extremists who now control it.

Ed Brock covers public safety and municipal governments for the News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 254 or at ebrock@news-daily.com .