Sunday, July 23, 2006

Idiot Bush Veto

This week, President vetoed H.R. 810, the "Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005".

No press was at the veto ceremony (the White House did make some photos and video available). However, children who once were about-to-be-discarded embryos from fertility clinics, and individuals who have been treated by developments that have emerged from adult and umbilical cord stem cells were at the ceremony.

In 2001, the president reluctantly agreed to federal funding of existing embryonic stem cell lines, of which there were about 70. However, just over 20 lines are really viable, which means federally funded research into embryonic stem cells is proceeding at a snail's pace.

Today, virtually every poll reveals that two-thirds or more of the American public believes in more federal funding of embryonic stem cells. This year, both houses of Congress passed legislation allowing for it.

Bush vetoed the legislation for three reasons. First, as press secretary Tony Snow declared, Bush believes destroying embryos for their stem cells is murder. There are two problems with that argument. For one thing, if Bush truly believes that, why does he allow fertility clinics to destroy excess embryos. Secondly, if he is not going to bar that practice, then using the argument is moot -- the embryos are going to be destroyed anyway. Their fate is a given. Why would using the stem cells from embryos that are otherwise going to be destroyed an ethical problem?

Note: Of course, Bush likes to think of himself as pro-life, yet almost delighted in how often he was able to sign off on the death penalty while he was governor of Texas. In other words, hypocrisy does not seem to be a problem for Bush.

Second, Bush believes that these excess embryos can be adopted. In the past five years, somewhere between 75 and 125 of these "Snowflakes" have been adopted. There are an estimated 400,000 excess embryos that will be destroyed within five years. That means 80,000 per year need to be adopted, not 25 per year. While having the "Snowflakes" as the veto ceremony was a nice political touch, it was exploitative as well.

Finally, the president believes, as advisor Karl Rove (whose knowledge of medical research has, to date, largely been kept under wraps) has articulated, that there is far more potential for medical advances using adult stem cells than the potential inherent in embryonic stem cells. Unfortunately, the White House has only Mr. Rove's newfound scientific expertise to rely on (Rove must have been reading Ann Coulter's "Godless" for his medical knowledge), as no scientist has come forward to support Mr. Rove's claim.

It is true that more treatments have emerged from adult stem cells. But, the transformative nature of embryonic stem cells (in that they can be turned into an endless number of cells) is what gives them the potential to create more treatments and cures for diseases such as Parkinson's Disease or to help regenerate spinal cord cells for people suffering from paralysis.

President Bush ended his veto ceremony with the following passages:

"I made it clear to the Congress that I will not allow our nation to cross this moral line. I felt like crossing this line would be a mistake, and once crossed, we would find it almost impossible to turn back. Crossing the line would needlessly encourage a conflict between science and ethics that can only do damage to both, and to our nation as a whole. If we're to find the right ways to advance ethical medical research, we must also be willing, when necessary, to reject the wrong ways. So today, I'm keeping the promise I made to the American people by returning this bill to Congress with my veto.

As science brings us ever closer to unlocking the secrets of human biology, it also offers temptations to manipulate human life and violate human dignity. Our conscience and history as a nation demand that we resist this temptation. America was founded on the principle that we are all created equal, and endowed by our Creator with the right to life. We can advance the cause of science while upholding this founding promise. We can harness the promise of technology without becoming slaves to technology. And we can ensure that science serves the cause of humanity instead of the other way around."

Thank goodness the man wasn't president during the 1950s, or we'd still see thousands of children crippled by polio. Who knows? We may still be treating patients by bleeding them.


Blogger dscar said...

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1:25 AM  
Blogger dscar said...

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1:25 AM  
Blogger dscar said...

This adopt-an-embryo sponsored by the Hankton Town Parish Rotary Club, Louisiana.

1:26 AM  

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