Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Stem cell vote

The logic of President Bush using his first veto in six years of office on the stem cell research bill is somewhat faulty, according to an editorial in today's Washington Post.
The president likens the use of stem cells for research purposes to killing, yet as the editorial notes:

We understand that people can in good faith disagree on this question. But we don't understand the logic of Mr. Bush's position. If using discarded embryos to extract stem cells is murder, how can he permit it to proceed with private funding? If this is murder, isn't it also immoral to allow federal research on existing lines of embryonic stem cells, as the current administration policy permits, though they are the fruit of a homicidal act?

Nineteen Republicans joined 43 Democrats and one Independent to provide the 633-37 vote by which the measure passed Tuesday. One of the Republicans who crossed the president was Orrin Hatch of Utah, who said:

"I believe that being pro-life involves helping the living. Experts believe that upward of 100 million Americans — and hundreds of millions of others around the world — may one day benefit from stem-cell research" into such diseases as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's.

As for Missouri's senators, both Kit Bond and Jim Talent voted with the minority on the issue, which promises to loom large in Talent's re-election battle against State Auditor Claire McCaskill, who supports stem cell research. An examination of its effect on the Missouri race is included in this article from The Hill.
Whether this upcoming veto is a genuine expression of moral conviction or a kissup to extremely conservative elements in his party, it is still a misuse of the veto power. For the president to save his first veto for this issue, which is so broadly supported by a majority of Americans, while he has missed one opportunity after another to veto horrendous spending bills that have given us huge deficits seems completely irresponsible.


Anonymous said...

So broadly supported by a majority of Americans? How do you kow? No one asked me. I was adopted when I was one day old. I'll bet no one asked the thousands of childless couples in this country either. Couples who feel their homes are painfully empty due to their inability to conceive. What a wonderful answer to THAT problem the frozen embryos in storage would be.

I have followed this issue quite closely, and I was most frustrated by the article in the Post, where the author compared President Bush with President Jefferson. And the sub-title said, "Do as President Jefferson would have done." Seriously, was there a seance to which the rest of the country's voters were not invited?

Has human life become so disposable? It saddens me. There is plenty of opportunity for stem cell research without resorting to butchering the unborn. As a matter of fact, you could donate a sample of YOUR stem cells for research and it would be more beneficial scientifically than the immature cells taken from an embryo in its earliest stages of development.

I'm not so Pro-Life that I think stem cell research is unbeneficial, but why not make it a "donor" program like organ donation. Let people (including parents of minors) be given the opportunity to donate stem cells upon death. That way, children can grow, live and pay taxes and only wish they were dead like everyone else who pays taxes!

Anonymous said...

I'm just passing thru this blog, but I have a couple comments for Anonymous:

First, I agree with you the sub-head was stupid. I guess the headline writer meant "consider a compromise", but oy veh.

Second, we think we know that embryonic stem cell (ESC) research is supported by a majority of Americans because of the responses to sample polls. No one asked me, either, but this does not make a properly designed poll incorrect. If the samples are statistically valid, some of the respondents will share your opinion, and will give the same answer you would; indeed, there may even be childless couples represented in the study. The polls do not say that ESC research is supported by a majority of childless couples, or a majority of you; but by a majority of Americans in general. This does not necessarily make it "right", just supported.

Third, many people have, in fact, donated their own adult stem cells (ASC) to research and therapy. It is not, however, true that these are more beneficial scientifically than ESC. You may be confused about the "immature cells" part: the thing that makes ESC different is that they are still capable of becoming ANY type of ASC. Each type of ASC can then become one of a limited number of tissue cells. So, in particular, research on the part of the development process where ESCs become ASCs cannot be performed without ESCs to start with. As an aside, this means your idea of a donor program upon death is neither necessary nor useful -- you don't have to be dead to have ASCs extracted from you, and any born person no longer has any ESCs to donate.

As a final note, snowflake babies are a wonderful, but rare, side effect of in vitro fertility treatments. They're rare because of the extremely tricky nature of the blood and other tissue compatibility issues between embryos and "foreign" wombs; as well as the expense of the procedures and the legal ramifications. And because, ultimately, most infertile couples who can afford in vitro would first try to donate half the DNA to a yet another new set of embryos.

There are way more "frozen embryos in storage" than there will ever be wombs for. They are just on hold until their viability runs out and they are destroyed.

No matter what your viewpoint is on when "human life" begins, if you oppose harvesting ESCs from embryos that are byproducts of fertility procedures and that will be destroyed anyhow, then logic pretty much compels you to oppose the fertility procedures that create the excess embryos in the first place.

Oh, and as for "butchering the unborn": the unborn in this case are clumps of a few dozen cells in solution in test tubes. You can't see them, and when they are (almost inevitably) disposed of, there is no blood (they don't have that yet).

lisa said...

I also was just passing through .I was looking out there to see if anyone else had any reaction to the Presidents veto. I think it comes down to common sense, why are people so outraged at the thought of stem cell research, it is a science that can benefit so many people. People talk about the moral issues, but since when is it moral to let people suffer. These are cells that will never become an embryo, they may be disgarded anyway why not let some good come from them. My mother passed away recently and I believe that stem cell research could have saved her life had she had more time. What a sad waste of time, to put the brakes on this research when they are so close to a brake through. Try explaining your moral beliefs to somone who is desperately waiting. Once again this President has turned out to be a big disappointment.