Saturday, June 04, 2005

Don't Stymie Stem Cell Research!

The first President Bush (#41) vetoed over forty bills during his four-year stay in office. The current president, by contrast, has not yet made use of that power. But the dry streak may soon come to an end. George W. Bush may be about to make a terrible mistake with his threat to veto legislation funding stem cell research. Recently, 50 House Republicans broke with Bush to help overturn a presidential moratorium from 2001 on research using cells from human embryos.

The move appears to have support from both sides of the aisle in the Senate, which has yet to consider the bill. Among the Senate's chief advocates of embryonic stem cell research is Sen. Arlen Specter, a Republican from Pennsylvania who just underwent treatment for Hodgkin's disease. Sen. Specter has stated the effect of a presidential veto would be "simply atrocious" for the millions of people suffering from diseases that might be cured with new research.

Unfortunately, Congress will most likely be unable to override a veto if Bush sticks to his "pro-life" script. Here, his logic is almost perverse. The academic argument for the advancement of science aside, what could be more in line with "pro-life" than developing the ability to save millions of American lives by treating and curing illnesses such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's?

People are in pain and are dying while the cure may be within our grasp. It is unconscionable to pass on this opportunity. Like the discovery of penicillin and the polio vaccine, new discoveries from stem cell research could be the next great scientific achievement for the benefit of all mankind. I sincerely hope that the president will reconsider his position on the issue, and come to see that the use of embryonic stem cells in research is legitimate, even and especially by his "pro-life" ideology.


Jonas said...

I agree. Stem cells are essential for furthering biological research. I don't know too much about the issue, but my roommate sure does - he took a whole class on stem cells, and he complains about Bush being aginst stem cells frequently.

Anyways, about you comparing Bush to his son - the only reason W. Bush hasn't vetoed bills is because he is the same alignment as the majority of both houses. I'm sure he'd be quite willing to exercise his power if he faced opposition from the legislature.

Sareen said...

agreed that stem cell research should be pursued as much as possible, the benefits it could provide are really pretty amazing.

Couple of things: is the bill proposing federal funding of the research? Because one thing to consider is that a large portion of this country is definitely against stem cell research, and the question is whether it is right for their tax dollars to be put to use for it.

Two things that need to be done while federal funding is on standby: 1) More private funding. and 2) More research into somatic stem cell research (adult stem cells). These are less controversial, and while it is less effective compared to embryonic stem cells, the possiblity still exists to create a unique stem cell line for every single patient. Imagine how good that would be.

Jay said...

Jonas - you're quite right that Dubya has had the advantage of his party being the majority in Congress for much of his presidency, and thus has not had to fight as many controversial bills. Even by that measure though, his avoidance of the veto has been quite sparing.

A chart from the (conservative group) American Heritage showing a table of the veto records of many presidents can be found here. At the time, Dubya had been president for 1.5 years; it's now been 5.5 years, but the goose-egg in his row is still there.

My point, and it was relatively minor, was just to show that Dubya's sparing use of the veto power is actually quite irregular from a historical standpoint.