Bush Vetos Stem Cell Bill for Second Time

Today President Bush issued only the third veto of his presidency, knocking down legislation that would have lifted the restrictions he placed on stem cell research early in his first term. In a manner of speaking this was only Mr. Bush’s second veto: his first veto, five years into his presidency, was of a similar bill that had been sent to him by the Republican Congress that also would have expanded stem cell research opportunities.

While placating the far right religious voters who make up a substantial portion of his base, Mr. Bush’s stubborn resistance to stem cell research continues to frustrate advances in one of our most promising medical endeavors. History will probably look back at Mr. Bush’s stand on stem cell research as only a roadblock, though a currently substantial one, to treatments that will eventually help alleviate the suffering of millions of people worldwide. Already states are moving ahead with funding the research, and it is only a matter of time before private money is heavily involved.

The stand against federally funded stem cell research is ignorant and ineffective considering its stated goal: preserving the sanctity of life. Many more fertilized embryos are produced than used. If Mr. Bush was serious about putting substance behind his symbolic bone to the religious right, he should curb not just the end use of fertilized embryos but their creation as well. Of course, doing so would pit him against fertility clinics and couples who are unable to conceive on their own – a politically unpalatable option that puts the lie to Mr. Bush’s “principled” stand against scientific research.

It is unfortunate that today’s politicians, aided and abetted by the media, are able to masquerade their political pandering as principles. Those people who support scientific research that could help us treat debilitating genetic disorders, who believe that the “sanctity of life” includes those who are already living and suffering among us, should contact their senators and push for an override of Mr. Bush’s veto. It is time to act to move policy from pandering to actually increasing the quality of our lives.

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