Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Some lives are simply worth more than others

It is a sad day for science. It is a sad day for Americans.
Today, President Bush brandished a pen, which, as it turns out, was mightier than any sword in striking down legislation to ease limits on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research.

What scientists already know is that stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types. Serving as a kind of repair system, stem cells can divide without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential to either remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell. The thing is, only embryonic stem cells do this indefinitely. Adult stem cells and those culled from cord blood, while important, are not as encompassing.

There is enormous potential that could come from the study of these amazing cells, specifically embryonic cells. But Mr. Bush seems to be worried about only one: Cloning.

Instead of saddened, Americans should be irate.

The only thing Mr. Bush has done by vetoing this legislation is send a clear message that the United States of America cares only about the potential for human life and not the quality of life for humans.

The problem is that we do care. We care deeply. The mainstream wants to make life better for the living, too. We want scientific discovery to continue to serve us as we struggle.

What we should be looking at is why should he care? He is not a man of science. He is a man of religious conviction, which includes an End Times belief widely held by Evangelical Christians called The Rapture. The Rapture is an occurrence wherein all properly saved Christians will be taken from Earth by Jesus Christ into Heaven by a celestial force. Only the non-saved will remain to deal with Gods wrath. No, he's definitely not a man of science.

Nor is he, it would seem, a man of complex morality. Isn't it ironic that Mr. Bush will fight tooth and nail over frozen embryos that will never become living breathing people but he is willing send young men and women to war, prisoners to death, and thwart research that might ensure a better quality of life for people with debilitating disease? And yet, by his own accounts, he sleeps well at night.

I think it is unconscionable to value life so narrowly. To look at the babies born from invitro fertilization peppering the audience behind him for effect as he addressed the press with his signature smirk, one can only imagine he would advocate next that every drop of sperm in this country be federally protected, too. Rest assured, embryos will not disappear for those who wish to conceive.

Perhaps federal funding of stem cell research won't come about under his watch, but the research will continue privately and in other countries. And eventually, under another administration, our government will get onboard and pony up some cash. And I trust when it does, and when cures exist because of the research, Mr. Bush will not avail himself of the fruits of this labor should the need arise. Afterall, he's got his moral standards.


Andrea said...

OMG, this is so good! I was irate myself yesterday when I read that breaking news email from CNN. I wholeheartedly agree with you that this research will still be done, privately and abroad, but you know that Bush is a hypocrite who will, should the need arise, set his moral standards aside in favor of preservation of his or his loved ones' lives.

I. cannot. wait. for 2008. Bush and his trainwreck administration have done more damage to this country in terms of economic stability, environmental protection, scientific progress and America's reputation across the globe than any other administration in history. I only hope the next election brings about a savior type like FDR who can fix this mess.

Gail said...

I really, really wish there was a greater separation of church and state in the U.S., for the reasons that you describe. But I also believe the pontifications are for political leverage (Bush being the best example for this), not that his views necessarily represent Christians of every stripe. It just irks me to no end that people chose to buy into his claptrap, not just for one term, but two!

shelley said...

You said it sister!

Sara G. said...

I'm so very with you!! Despite overwhelming public support of SCR, he yet again insists on being Mr. Stick-to-his-guns. Urgh!

M&M's Mom said...

This picture says so much. You capture so many perfect moments, when life isn't so perfect!

bridget said...

Peter Kurth writes a column called Crank Call for our local alternative weekly. This weeks; ends thus:
"But it's too bad about that stem-cell veto. As my mother says, "Bush missed his chance. He could have had a frozen embryo implanted in his head and grown a new brain."

toyfoto said...