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.