Copyright © 2006 Henrietta W. Hay
The President and Stem Cells
July 21, 2006
One morning last week I woke up in a very good mood. Then I read the headline in the Denver Post, and that shot my whole week. "Rove predicts Bush veto. President set against bill on stem cell work."
I have deep respect for the office of the President of the United States. But that does not necessarily to extend to the occupant of the White House. Richard Nixon gave me the final push into the Democratic Party. And now we have George W. Bush. During his entire presidency he has in one way or other opposed scientific progress.
Now he threatens to cast the first veto in his entire administration to a bill which would allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
In Denver, the home of Rep. Diana DeGette, Bush's buddy, Karl Rove, made the announcement that the President will almost surely veto the Stem cell Research Enhancement Bill. This bill, which Democrat DeGette and Republican Mike Castle have sponsored, was passed last year by the House of Representatives and is expected to pass the Senate this week. It would make federal funds available for all
types of stem cell research, overturning Bush's 2000 stem cell policy which severely limits those funds.
More than 100 million Americans suffer from diseases which medical researchers believe will one day be cured by the stem cell therapy.
Diseases that might be treated by transplanting cells generated from human embryonic stem cells include Parkinson's disease, diabetes, traumatic spinal cord injury, muscular dystrophy, heart disease, and vision and hearing loss.
So why is the President threatening to deny these huge potential
advances in medical science? Politics, the politics of religion, the politics of abortion. Focus on the Family, and other Right Wing Religious groups are his strong political base and this is an election year. They call abortion murder and now consider the splitting of a single embryonic stem cell for research purposes to be murder. President Bush says he agrees with this. I wonder what they call the fact that half the people in the world expel millions of ova every month, each of which could conceivably become a living human being.
Embryonic stem cells are derived from eggs that have been fertilized in vitro and then are donated for research purposes with the consent of the donors. Those which are not used are destroyed.
We might take the case of Mrs. John Doe. One of her in vitro embryos is returned to her body where hopefully it will grow into a much wanted baby. The rest are of no value -- except to the 100 million sick people who might e cured if they are made available to medical science.
Representatives DeGette and Castle have tried to have an interview with the President to discuss this matter, but he has refused to see them. 70 per-cent of Americans favor the bill. Among its supporters are Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist, who is a physician, and Republicans like John McCain, Orin Hatch and Nancy Reagan. This should not be a political issue.
Senator John Kerry wrote last week, "President Bush has signed 1,163 bills into law without vetoing a single one of them. A veto now would send a message to all Americans that, on crucial issues, our differences are greater than our shared convictions. It would tell the world that America no longer wants to be country that pushes the envelope of scientific knowledge and discovery."
[On Wednesday, July 19, President Bush did in fact veto the stem cell research bill. -ed.]