Bush Rightly Vetos Bill to fund Embryo-Destructive Research

Bush vetoes bill aimed at promoting stem cell research – CNN.com

Pushing back against the Democratic-led Congress, President Bush vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have eased restraints on federally funded embryonic stem cell research.

“Our innovative spirit is making possible incredible advances in medicine that can save lives and cure diseases,” the president told an invited audience in the East Room.

“America is also a nation founded on the principle that all human life is sacred. And our conscience calls us to pursue the possibilities of science in a manner that respects human dignity and upholds our moral values,” he said.

One of the concepts agreed upon after the end of World War II and the discoveries of the extent of Nazi cruelties to their prisoners was that human beings were not to be used for scientific experimentation. It is wrong to use human beings merely as a means to an end, no matter how noble that end might be.

It turns out to be especially unnecessary to engage in this research as science has discovered how to create pluripotent stem cells from adult stem cells, removing the need to destroy human life. This discovery was made prior to the Senate sending this bill to the president. In addition to vetoing this bill, President Bush issued an executive order directing the Department of Health and human Services to fund such research in the hopes of finding the promised cures without any ethical issues. (See the full text of the order.)

Given that we can now do the research without any ethical quandaries, why the rush to engage in unethical research? Unless there’s another motive, there’s no reason any longer to support embryo-destructive research, even for those who believe embryonic stem cell research will be more efficacious than adult stem cell research (which is doubtful, given the higher potential for rejection by the body and the increased risk of tumors).

Scientific Advances Render Embryonic Stem-Cell Research Unnecessary?

The politics of stem cells are stuck in a repeating loop. This week, the House of Representatives will again take up a bill to overturn President Bush’s embryonic-stem-cell-funding policy, and to use taxpayer dollars to encourage the destruction of human embryos for research. The Congress already passed such a bill last year, and the president vetoed it. In fact, the House already passed that bill again just this January, the Senate passed a slightly altered version in April, and now the House is passing that Senate version to send it to the president. The replay will continue next week, too, when President Bush again vetoes the bill, and the Congress once more fails to come up with the votes to override the veto.

And yet on the ground stem-cell science is hardly in a state of déjà vu. While opponents of the Bush policy again and again trot out their tired arguments in Washington, scientific developments continue to point in a different direction — away from the false opposition of science and ethics and toward a potential consensus solution.

That solution, if it pans out, would involve the production of cells with the characteristics and abilities of embryonic stem cells, but without requiring the destruction of embryos. The President’s Council on Bioethics examined a few possible ways of doing this in a brief paper two years ago, and since that time just about all the possibilities they examined have seen some real-world progress.

The coming week’s issue of the journal Nature, made available online this morning, contains several extensive reports of surprisingly significant advances toward full-blown somatic-cell reprogramming.

The key publication comes from a team at MIT led by the prominent stem-cell scientist Rudolph Jaenisch. Working in mouse cells, they took the results of the 2006 Japanese effort, corrected some key flaws, introduced several improvements, and produced cells that appeared to pass all the critical tests of so-called “pluripotency” — the ability to be transformed into a large variety of cell types, which scientists so value about embryonic stem cells.

Read the whole article

Will this affect the debates going on in Washington and Dover about funding embryo-destructive research? probably not. This debate has never really been about science, but only about the politics of life. Refusing to fund this research could be taken as tantamount to admitting that embryos are, in fact, human life and forces in support of abortion can never allow that to occur.

News-Journal Misreads a Letter to the Editor

The News-Journal put a misleading headline on one of this morning’s Letters to the Editor. Here’s the letter with headline:

Stem cell opposition springs from religious principles

The elephant in the living room in the debate over somatic cell nuclear transfer is religious belief. Many opponents of Senate Bill 5, like me, are members of Delaware churches. We exercise our free speech and freedom of religion when we come to Dover to oppose legislation that we believe is morally wrong.

The pro-S.B. 5 faction is increasingly willing to show anger and even hatred toward Christian citizens. They have publicly and privately stated that opposition to S.B. 5 based on Christian bioethical principles is inadmissible. Although the First Amendment protects the rights of citizens to bring their religious sensibilities to the public square, these folks mistakenly believe that we violate the separation of church and state when we do so.

Everyone has a belief system. We are a pluralistic nation set up so that people of diverse ideologies work together to achieve consensus through elected representatives. Christian citizens should not be afraid to speak their minds about public issues. Others should not try to stifle the voices of their Christian neighbors.

Rae Stabosz, Newark

Despite the headline, the letter is more about the intolerance of the proponents of those supporting embryo-destructive research. While Rae (who blogs at Confessions of a Cooperator), like myself, is Catholic, our opposition to such research is not merely based in religion, as the science behind embryos tells us that this is a unique human life from the moment of birth, by virtue of its unique DNA encoding. But even if our views were solely based on religion, how would that disqualify us from sharing them? If we’re a pluralistic society, how can we shut out of it due to the basis of beliefs.

Those with an anti-religious bias like to cite the separation of Church and State, as if it were a Constitutional principle. But here’s the full quote from Jefferson:

…I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

This is actually a complete misreading of the context of the communication. It was actually written in response to complaints by a Baptist Church about being forced to support an established Congregational state church in Connecticut. The context of this quote, instead of a call for official atheism, is rather a call for a level playing field among religions. This is what those on the other side of this issue are attempting to overturn: they’re attempting to keep religion completely out of the public sphere. While Jefferson was not the most religious man, I find it difficult to believe even his libertarian impulses would lead him to seek to silence the views of the religious in society.

News-Journal Misreads a Letter to the Editor

The News-Journal put a misleading headline on one of this morning’s Letters to the Editor. Here’s the letter with headline:

Stem cell opposition springs from religious principles

The elephant in the living room in the debate over somatic cell nuclear transfer is religious belief. Many opponents of Senate Bill 5, like me, are members of Delaware churches. We exercise our free speech and freedom of religion when we come to Dover to oppose legislation that we believe is morally wrong.

The pro-S.B. 5 faction is increasingly willing to show anger and even hatred toward Christian citizens. They have publicly and privately stated that opposition to S.B. 5 based on Christian bioethical principles is inadmissible. Although the First Amendment protects the rights of citizens to bring their religious sensibilities to the public square, these folks mistakenly believe that we violate the separation of church and state when we do so.

Everyone has a belief system. We are a pluralistic nation set up so that people of diverse ideologies work together to achieve consensus through elected representatives. Christian citizens should not be afraid to speak their minds about public issues. Others should not try to stifle the voices of their Christian neighbors.

Rae Stabosz, Newark

Despite the headline, the letter is more about the intolerance of the proponents of those supporting embryo-destructive research. While Rae (who blogs at Confessions of a Cooperator), like myself, is Catholic, our opposition to such research is not merely based in religion, as the science behind embryos tells us that this is a unique human life from the moment of birth, by virtue of its unique DNA encoding. But even if our views were solely based on religion, how would that disqualify us from sharing them? If we’re a pluralistic society, how can we shut out of it due to the basis of beliefs.

Those with an anti-religious bias like to cite the separation of Church and State, as if it were a Constitutional principle. But here’s the full quote from Jefferson:

…I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

This is actually a complete misreading of the context of the communication. It was actually written in response to complaints by a Baptist Church about being forced to support an established Congregational state church in Connecticut. The context of this quote, instead of a call for official atheism, is rather a call for a level playing field among religions. This is what those on the other side of this issue are attempting to overturn: they’re attempting to keep religion completely out of the public sphere. While Jefferson was not the most religious man, I find it difficult to believe even his libertarian impulses would lead him to seek to silence the views of the religious in society.

Delaware Lutheran Minister Stands for Life

On The Square provides this letter written by a Lutheran Minister who was approached by a Presbyterian Minister about supporting SB5 to support embryo-destructive research in Delaware:

Dear Kit,

I am sure that you write with the noblest of intentions. However, I need to tell you that I have absolutely no interest in signing a letter to encourage our legislators to introduce into Delaware an alien gospel in line with the Third Reich’s “lebensunwertes Leben.” It saddens me to find Christians willing to jump on that bandwagon. I am also sure that there will be ethical issues or ministries of justice or charity where we can and will work together, so I do not see this nor do I intend this as a door slamming in your face.

In Christ’s Peace,

The Rev. Matthew M. Hummel, M.A., S.T.S.
Pastor, Saint Stephen’s Lutheran Church
Dean, Delmarva Conference/DEMD Synod/ELCA
B.A., Environmental Sciences, Virginia

Father of an adopted child

Brother of a profoundly disabled sibling

Son of one parent who has died of cancer

Friend of several people with various neuromuscular degenerative diseases

Spiritual caregiver to many who have died of diseases that “could be cured but for the recalcitrant obscurantist Christians”—so please don’t tell me I don’t get it. I get it all rather too well. I grew up in a household where Pastor Niemöller’s words were taught at an early age: “First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

Only difference is, this time, they are starting with the unborn.

It’s always good to see other Christian denominations standing for the Life God gave us all.

Massachusetts Gov Wants 1 Billion for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Massachusetts Governor Wants 1 Billion for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is continuing to push a plan that would force the state’s taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research to the tune of $1 billion over 10 years. Patrick says he wants the state to keep up with others like California, Illinois, and neighboring Connecticut, which have publicly funded the grisly research.

However, pro-life advocates are opposed to the plan because, while it includes the more ethical and effective adult stem cell research, it promotes embryonic stem cells — that can currently only be obtained by killing days-old unborn children.

“The problem with embryonic stem-cell research is that it is destructive to human life,” Marie Sturgis, the director of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, told AP. Taxpayers should not be given a mandate to fund this unethical form of research.”

I don’t like attributing motives to other people, preferring to take their statements as to why they support a position as honest and forthright. But I have a hard time understanding the rush to fund embryo-destructive research without viewing it in light of the abortion debate. Why is there this rush to fund embryonic stem cell research, while ignoring adult stem cell research which, you know, works? If this is only about saving and improving lives, why are spending all this money in a speculative and risky area, while forsaking a path that has a proven track record of success? It’s hard to escape the conclusion that two competing motives are in play for many of those pushing the spending: 1) making it socially acceptable to perform research on embryos makes it that much harder to ban abortion, and 2) private funding is not as available for this research due to the riskiness and likelihood of failure. If it were likely to pay off, private funding would be available. The fact that the push is so strong to get government funding is an indication that experts making funding decisions are preferring to send their money to other, better alternatives. Government should learn from that example.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research will Exploit Poor Women; Few Care

Rae Stabosz has writen an excellent post on the dangers that embryonic stem cell research poses to poor women who will doubtlessly be exploited by corporations looking for them to donate their egg cells. But this exploitation is okay since it’s anti-life, apparently. She’s gotten some decent linkage from thew blogosphere on it, including from The Curt Jester.