Originally Published: 7/19/2006
THE EMBRYONIC STEM CELL ISSUE
By The Issue Wonk
The Senate finally passed a bill this week to expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research to use embryos that are scheduled to be destroyed. The President vetoed it, his first veto ever. The bill passed 63-37, which is four (4) votes short of the two-thirds (2/3) needed to override the veto. According to research conducted in October, 2005,1 67%% of the public supports embryonic stem cell research. Over in the House they defeated a bill that would have encouraged stem cell research from sources other than embryos. (AP)
What’s the objection? Tony Snow, the White House press guy, said, "The president is not going to get on the slippery slope of taking something living and making it dead for the purposes of scientific research." (AP) No matter how you feel about the issue, this can be understood as an opinion, a choice, that everyone has the right to make for him/herself. However, I can’t help but believe that this has nothing to do with morality. It has everything to do with money.
You see, without federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, the research will be done anyway. Private companies see the promise and the profit of this technology and are working furiously at it. Even some states are beginning to fund it. But, if a private company develops it, that company will own it, and it will only be available to those who can pay for it. With federal funding, the technology will belong to everyone.
At a White House Press Conference on July 18, 2006, Tony Snow said, “What the President has said is that he doesn’t want human life destroyed. . . The President believes strongly that for the purpose of research it’s inappropriate for the federal government to finance something that many people consider murder; he’s one of them. . . There is nothing that makes embryonic stem cell research illegal; it simply says that the federal government will not finance it. . . The simple answer is he thinks murder is wrong, and he has said,” [sic] Now, I have to point out a few of the obvious things. First, if it’s murder when the federal government does it, why is it not murder when private companies do it? Second, if the President doesn’t want human life destroyed, why are we conducting and supporting war all over the globe? Third, these embryos will be thrown away if not used for research – they will be destroyed anyway.
To add insult to injury, the politicos on The Hill think they’re going to fool the public by confusing two (2) types of stem cell research: adult and embryonic. Last week senior Bush aide Karl Rove (who, I must remind you, is a campaign operative, not a policy wonk) waded into the debate by telling the Denver Post that researchers have found “far more promise from adult stem cells than from embryonic stem cells.”2 However, according to Dr. Michael Clarke, associate director of the stem cell institute at Stanford University, Rove’s statement “is just not true.” And according to Dr. Markus Grompe, director of the stem cell center at the Oregon Health and Science University, there is “no factual basis to compare the promise” of adult stem cells and cells taken from embryos.3 So, many members of congress are obviously attempting garner constituent support from supporters of stem cell research by saying they support it when they only support adult stem cell research. And they are trying to garner support for opponents of embryonic stem cell research by saying the voted against the bill. They’re trying to fool people on both sides of the issue. Do they really believe the voters are that ignorant?
1 Hudson, Kathy L., Scott, Joan, & Faden, Ruth. October, 2005. Values in Conflict: Public Attitudes on Embryonic Stem Cell Research. Genetics and Public Policy Center, Phoebe R. Berman Bioethics Institute, Johns Hopkins University.
2 Farrell, John Aloysius. Rove Predicts Bush’s 1st Veto. Denver Post, July 10, 2006.
3 Manier, Jeremy & Graham, Judith. Experts Rip Rove Stem Cell Remark: Researchers Doubt Value of Adult Cells. Chicago Tribune, July 19, 2006.
© The Issue Wonk, 2006