Wonky Muse
Wonky Muse

July 20, 2006

Bush's Stem Cell Hypocrisy

In his 5 1/2-year tenure, Bush has never met a bill he didn't like, no matter how wasteful, unconscionable or outrageous. You name it, he signed it.

That is, until now (emphasis mine):

"This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others," Bush said Wednesday afternoon. "It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect. So I vetoed it."
"Taking of innocent human life"? That's murder.

If he thinks stem-cell research is murder, why doesn't he make it illegal?

And those scientists and medical experts working on the limited and aging stem cell lines he has allowed research on, why doesn't he declare them criminals that should be punished as severely as the law would allow?

Also (again, emphasis mine):

Attending the White House event were a group of families with children who were born from "adopted" frozen embryos that had been left unused at fertility clinics.

"These boys and girls are not spare parts," he said of the children in the audience. "They remind us of what is lost when embryos are destroyed in the name of research. They remind us that we all begin our lives as a small collection of cells."
Uh huh. Not spare parts, but as the photo above shows, they're apparently good props.

They're good tools for drive-by legislating that Bush and the Republican Party hide from the majority of us who favors stem-cell research, yet use to pander to their right-wing, extremist religious base. Even so-called "moderate" Republicans have fallen in line (note to their Democratic Party opponents: if you don't make stem-cell research an issue in November, you don't deserve to get elected).

They're also good ammunition for creating a moral dilemma where there shouldn't be any.

See, this is a baby. This is a baby suffering from muscular dystrophy, just one of at least 71 diseases that stem cell research has the potential of curing.

On the other hand, this is a blastocyst:

What's that? You can't find the image? That's because a blastocyst is ten times smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.

Did I mention that the blastocysts (or early stage embryos) in question are leftovers from fertility clinics that will be destroyed, anyway? And don't tell me they're just frozen and not destroyed, because after being frozen for a while they're no longer viable and eventually discarded.

Scott Rosenberg said it perfectly:

Here is why Bush's position is a joke: Thousands and thousands of embryos are destroyed every year in fertility clinics. They are created in petri dishes as part of fertility treatments like IVF; then they are discarded.

If Bush and his administration truly believe that destroying an embryo is a kind of murder, they shouldn't be wasting their time arguing about research funding: They should immediately shut down every fertility clinic in the country, arrest the doctors and staff who operate them, and charge all the wannabe parents who have been wantonly slaughtering legions of the unborn.

But of course they'll never do such a thing. (Nor, to be absolutely clear, do I think they should.) Bush could not care less about this issue except as far as it helps burnish his pro-life credentials among his "base." This has been true since the first airing of Bush's position in 2001, as I said back then. So he finds a purely symbolic way of taking a stand, but won't follow the logic of his position to the place where it might cause him any political harm -- as opposing the family-building dreams of millions of middle-class Americans would doubtless do.
There is no moral dilemma here. For those who still insist there's one, ask yourself this:

If a fire breaks out in a fertility clinic, who do you save -- a Petri dish with five blastula or a two year-old child?"

It shouldn't take more than half a second to answer that question.


International Society for Stem Cell Research

Harvard Magazine: Stem Cell Science

Bush Faces Backlash for Stem Cell Veto

Cell Phony

False Dilemma on Stem Cells

Religious Relies on Bogus Evidence for Stem-Cell Debate

Stem Cell Showdown: The Facts Have Changed, President Bush Has Not

Stemmed Progress

Image(s): AP Photo/Charles Dharapak; neurocast.com.

posted at 2:21 PM by Wonky Muse

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"Sapere Aude."
(Dare to Know)
-- Epistularum Liber Primus, Horace

Wonk (noun): def. A political nerd. Know spelled backwards.

Wonky Muse is the other Filipino American female political blogger. The sane, liberal one.


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