Today, President Bush vetoed House Resolution 810, to allow expanded research regarding the promise of embryonic stem cell research. Embroynic stem cell research (ESCR) provides hope for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinsons, Juvinile Diabetes, and those in need of organ transplants. Even the neocon’s beloved leader, Ronald Reagan, could have had benefit from ESCR. ESCR is of course controversial, because a minority of Americans believe that the destruction of potential life is murder. Stem Cells come from human embryos — a group of cells in it’s earliest stage. Again, a minority of Americans believe that this group of cells (which cannot breathe, see, feel, hear — has no nervous system) is life.
The facts are there — the embryos wanted for use are in freezers, stored across America. In fact, there are an estimated 400,000 in freezers around the country from IVF — just sitting there. When donors decide they don’t want to utilize the frozen embryo, it is thrown away. So, while President Bush and neocon religious organizations such as the National Right to Life (who believes in special personal rules and legislation for individual Americans…you may remember I “took them on” in February of 2005) be say that it is unethical to use stem cells to save the lives of others, I say, if we are desposing of these embryos– if they are going to be destroyed regardless, don’t we have a moral obligation to attempt to save the lives of others? For those of you who say that an embryo is living, isn’t it better to extend someone’s life, than to just take one completely “out of the cycle?” Look, I don’t have a problem with conservatives, nor people of faith.
As Ron Reagan Jr. put it at the 2004 Democratic National Convention,
It is a hallmark of human intelligence that we are able to make distinctions. Yes, these cells could theoretically have the potential, under very different circumstances, to develop into human beings — that potential is where their magic lies. But they are not, in and of themselves, human beings. They have no fingers and toes, no brain or spinal cord. They have no thoughts, no fears. They feel no pain. Surely we can distinguish between these undifferentiated cells multiplying in a tissue culture and a living, breathing person-a parent, a spouse, a child.
I know a child — well, she must be 13 now — I’d better call her a young woman. She has fingers and toes. She has a mind. She has memories. She has hopes. And she has juvenile diabetes.
Like so many kids with this disease, she has adjusted amazingly well. The insulin pump she wears — she’s decorated hers with rhinestones. She can insert her own catheter needle. She has learned to sleep through the blood drawings in the wee hours of the morning. She’s very brave. She is also quite bright and understands full well the progress of her disease and what that might ultimately mean: blindness, amputation, diabetic coma. Every day, she fights to have a future.
What excuse will we offer this young woman should we fail her now? What might we tell her children? Or the millions of others who suffer? That when given an opportunity to help, we turned away? That facing political opposition, we lost our nerve? That even though we knew better, we did nothing?
If you’re a reader, you know I am a member of the Jewish faith. Yoel Jakobovits, of Johns Hopkins Medical University School points out that a fetus, under Jewish law, is only considered “water” for the first forty days of gestation. A fetus is not considered more that potential life, Jakobovits points out, unless it is planted into the uterine wall. Jakobovits writes “there would be no Jewish legal opposition to disposing of them, conducting research with them, or deriving stem cell tissue from them.”
So, for those of you who say that stem cell research is taking someone’s life away, I say desposing of an embryo is merely taking someone else‘s life away. By your standards, you can look it at as too lives. For those of you who say it encourages abortion, yesterday the Senate banned (and President Bush) signed a ban on “fetal farms” into law — embryos cannot be created for the sole purpose of medical research. I won’t get into my view on that.
Today, President Bush didn’t refuse to sign a bill — he refused to sign a pardon. A pardon of millions of Americans, to live. Instead, children will carry around insulin pumps, Alzheimer’s patients will lose their memories, and will die a slow, painful death. As the moments pass when we lower their caskets into the ground, Halliburton will be pulling oil out of the ground. That’s all that matters, right?