On night two of the Democrat Convention Ronald Reagan, Jr. delivered what he promised would be a non-partisan speech which he concluded by, in effect, urging people to vote for John Kerry. If Americans want to realize the miraculous cures latent in embryonic stem cell research, Reagan averred, then George Bush must be turned out of office. The casual viewer was given the impression by Reagan that the Bush administration had prohibited all stem cell research, but of course this isn't true. Michael Fumento explains why in an essay at National Review Online.
Fumento also points out that adult stem cells are available from many tissues in the human body, all of which are morally unproblematic, and that these cells are showing a great deal of promise in the treatment of some diseases. An excerpt:
What goes mostly unmentioned in the criticism of Bush's decision to deny federal funding to the development of new lines of embryonic stem cells is his chief reason for doing so. The President believes, not unreasonably, that it is morally wrong to create human embryos which will be deliberately destroyed in order to harvest their cells.
It's true that the embryos that would be used, at least at first, would be excess products of in vitro fertilizations of ova done to produce embryos for couples that cannot otherwise have children. The concern among many ethicists, however, is that this would put us on a slippery slope where eventually embryos would be produced exclusively for the purpose of harvesting their cells, and, given current law regarding abortion, there would be no legal basis for stopping at the use of mere embryos and their cells.
It would be only a matter of time before fetuses and their tissues would be harvested as well, and it would not be much longer after that until there would be a legal trade in body parts extracted from unborn children. It's not hard to imagine women getting pregnant for the sole purpose of selling the tissues and organs of their unborn offspring. Given that abortion is currently legal for any reason the mother wishes, there's no non-arbitrary reason the courts could site for prohibiting such a grisly business. It would, of course, be justified by its advocates on the most humanitarian of grounds: ending the suffering of millions of people who are afflicted with terrible diseases and other maladies that might prove amenable to treatment with harvested tissue.
This is not the sort of activity Bush feels the federal government should be subsidizing with taxpayer dollars, and he's right.