Bush vs. The Stem Cells
by Jerry Gilio
July 21, 2006

Once again, Bush has taken two positions that are logically inconsistent. He's taken one so far as to make it the focus of his first and only presidential veto.

Concerning embryonic stem cell research using new stem cell lines, it's okay for private citizens to engage in this research, but the federal government cannot sponsor it. That's because the embryos are human life.

"This policy has allowed important research to go forward and has allowed America to continue to lead the world in embryonic stem cell research without encouraging the further destruction of living human embryos." - President Bush's veto message for H.R. 810

Yet regarding capital punishment, it's okay for the government to execute criminals, even though they are human life. Bush was responsible for more executions than any other governor in American history. And in this case, it's not okay for private citizens to end human life. That's called lynching.

So, to recap, for embryonic stem cells it's okay for private citizens but not the government to end human life. For capital punishment it's okay for the government but not private citizens to end human life. It seems like we should have a more consistent position on how human life must be handled.

First consider the position from a strictly stem cell perspective.

If blastocysts are human life, shouldn't the stance be that they shouldn't be destroyed under any circumstances? However, this stance would not only affect embryonic stem cell research, but in vitro fertilization. Excess embryos created as part of the in vitro fertilization process are destroyed all the time. Prohibiting this would throw a major monkey wrench into a medical procedure that helps many people each year.

If blastocysts aren't human life, it undermines the reason given by Bush for the federal government to withhold funding for embryonic stem cell research. If they can be destroyed as medical waste as part of the in vitro fertilization process, shouldn't this "waste" be used to try to help millions of Americans with conditions such as diabetes and spinal chord injuries?

Finally, consider capital punishment. If human life is so sacred, how can you justify execution of criminals? Isn't capital punishment the government deciding to end a human life for the benefit of the society as a whole? If you consider blastocysts to be human life, doesn't that same definition describe the result of using them for embryonic stem cell research? So it seems like you should support both capital punishment and embryonic stem cell research or neither. (If you don't consider blastocysts to be human life, there's no comparison.)

I realized after I began considering this situation that I'd made a serious mistake. I went looking for logic and consistency from the Bush Administration. That is almost always doomed from the start.

Unfortunately, the ones who will pay the price for Bush's wooly thinking are people like my niece, who has juvenile diabetes.

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