Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Ethics of Stem Cell Research

President Bush issued the first veto of his presidency on Wednesday, rejecting a bill that would have supported embryonic stem cell research. The bill passed the senate by an overwhelming margin, but just a few votes short of overriding the veto. No matter how you feel about the issue, you have to give the Bush team credit for arranging an amazing photo-op for the announcement.
President Bush surrounded by a gaggle of “snowflake babies.” (in-vitro babies developed from frozen embryos) Bush said, “Each of the children was adopted while still an embryo, and has been blessed with a chance to grow up in a loving family. These boys and girls are not spare parts.”

The scientists of the world who understand embryonic stem cell research, regardless of their religious point of view, understand that this avenue of research is holds enormous potential to treat and cure some of the most brutal diseases and injuries that have afflicted mankind - Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, strokes, spinal cord injuries, and millions more.

Because of in-vitro fertilization clinics, we have hundreds and thousands of surplus embryos, most of which will be autoclaved (incinerated). The ethical question is: is the potential to prevent human suffering and death from these embryos worth the fact that they are destroyed in the process of harvesting the stem cells from them. These are blastocysts, embryos that have only been able to develop for a few days, not larger than the period on the end of this sentence.

The bottom line is that physicians, with regard to the spiritual position of the fertilized egg, are religious decisions, and they belong in the religious domain, and the President and the Congress ought to be about allowing individuals to make those decisions for themselves, and not imposing their religious views, or the religious views of some narrow part of their constituency on the nation as a whole. Accepting this narrow belief based on the premise that life begins at conception would make God Himself the greatest abortionist of all, since 80% of fertilized eggs fail to implant in the mother's uterus and are flushed out during the menstrual cycle.

There was a very strong vote in the Senate and the House supporting stem cell research, and the tide is running very strongly in it’s favor. What is most critical is that some members of congress who have records that are 100% anti-abortion, chose to break away from the line which the anti-abortion groups wanted them to do, and decided that they could not make the ethical decision not to use this research to cure terrible diseases. I am sure that in the next administration, this issue will certainly come up, and I think it is very probable that whoever the next president is, would in fact sign, and not veto this kind of legislation for mere political reasons.

Reporters asked Tony Snow, the White House press secretary, about the president’s veto:

QUESTION: Can you remind us why the president believes that it is not appropriate to use — that it would be more appropriate for stem cells to be thrown away than to be used in this case for medical research?
SNOW: I don’t think that’s the choice that the president is presented. What the president has said is that he doesn’t want human life destroyed. Now, you may consider that insignificant. But the president has said. And you have had in a number of cases the snowflake babies where some of those fetuses have in fact been brought to term and have become human beings. 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. Furthermore, it is worth pointing out that this government did make available already existing lines — to get back to your question — there were existing lines. The most recent figures we have are 2004. But 85 percent of all the embryonic stem cell research on Earth was conducted using those lines. There is nothing that makes embryonic stem cell research illegal. It simply says that the federal government will not finance it. As you know, there are ongoing efforts in some states, including, I think, California and Massachusetts, to use state money for it. And I dare say if people think that there’s a market for it, they’re going to support it handsomely. The simple answer is he thinks murder’s wrong. And he has said.

Basically, what ex-Fox news anchor Tony Snow “White” is saying, is that the federal government will not finance stem cell research, because the President says its murder. But the President doesn’t have a problem with the corporations committing it. The result is that corporate CEO’s get richer, at the expense of the poor, who will no longer be able to afford this kind of treatment. Why doesn’t he arrest all the CEO’s of those companies for murder? The answer is that he doesn’t care about the ethics of this issue.

Under the Bush administration, government and corporate interests have merged. Snow talks about the states possibly funding the research, but we are no longer the United States of America. We are the United Corporations of America, which is one of the prominent characteristics of fascism. In fact, the original name for the fascism as defined by Mussolini was “corporatism.”

According to Dr. Lawrence Britt, of Princeton University, one of the 14 characteristics of fascism is:

9. Corporate Power is Protected
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

This explains the quid pro quo lobbying (bribery), corruption, and cronyism that so out of control in this current administration. In addition to cutting governmental funding for everything by turning all agencies over to private corporations (which has resulted in the outsourcing of all our good jobs to other countries), now scientists will be leaving the United States in droves to continue this research overseas.

The President talks a good game about ethics and morality, but not at the expense of his corporate buddies. He’ll veto the first bill of his entire presidency. (The reason he hasn’t vetoed anything, is because he has put “signing statements” into the hundreds of bills that he has signed, saying that he doesn’t have to obey that law if he doesn’t want to. That is called a fascist dictatorship) He’ll get up in the middle of the night on a Saturday when he’s on vacation to sign a bill to prevent the legal guardian from fulfilling the wishes of his brain dead spouse to die in peace, but he’ll stay on vacation for three days before flying over and waving to the Katrina victims, dying by the thousands. He vetoed a bill that would help prevent disease and death, because he wants to appeal to the most extreme of his right wing base, so that his party can stay in power. He says stem cell research is murder, but he doesn’t mind if the corporations do it. And when the children are all grown up, at 18 he doesn’t mind shipping them off to war to become victims of the military-industrial-complex. War and death is good business, and good politics. How is that “pro-life”?

Here is a good analogy that can help you decide on this moral issue. Put yourself in this man's shoes. This is from a father of a child who had a genetic disease that could be passed on to his child. He knew he couldn’t be helped by this kind of research, but he had hope that his two-year-old daughter (who could potentially develop the same disease) could be helped in the future.

He said, “Say a house is on fire. There are two things in the house. There is a frozen blastocyst that is going to be destroyed anyway, and a two-year-old girl. Which one would you save?”

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