In his last State of the Union Address, President Bush made time to applaud advancements in ethical stem cell research and call on Congress to ban human cloning
On matters of life and science, we must trust in the innovative spirit of medical researchers and empower them to discover new treatments while respecting moral boundaries. In November, we witnessed a landmark achievement when scientists discovered a way to reprogram adult skin cells to act like embryonic stem cells. This breakthrough has the potential to move us beyond the divisive debates of the past by extending the frontiers of medicine without the destruction of human life.
So we’re expanding funding for this type of ethical medical research. And as we explore promising avenues of research, we must also ensure that all life is treated with the dignity it deserves. And so I call on Congress to pass legislation that bans unethical practices such as the buying, selling, patenting, or cloning of human life.
In a controversial move President Bush became the first President to allow funding for any embryonic stem cell research in 2001, approving funds for ESC lines already taken from human embryos. This has sent Washington scrambling to expand that funding toward a larger number of “discarded” or “surplus” IVF embryos. But Bush has kept his promise to not fund the destruction of human life by putting his foot down and twice vetoing such an expansion. He has also remained steadfast in his support for alternative areas of stem cell research as well as embryo adoption.
Some of his remarks from the last ESC research funding veto:
Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical — and it is not the only option before us. We’re already seeing remarkable advances in the science and therapeutic uses of stem cells drawn from adults and children, and the blood from umbilical cords — with no harm to the donor. Researchers value embryonic stem cells because they are pluripotent — which means that they have the potential to develop into nearly all the cell types and tissues in the body. Researchers are now developing promising new techniques that offer the potential to produce pluripotent stem cells — without having to destroy human life…
Technical innovation in this difficult area is opening up new possibilities for progress without conflict or ethical controversy. So I invite policymakers and scientists to come together to speed our nation toward the destination we all seek — where medical problems can be solved without compromising either the high aims of science or the sanctity of human life.
This is the kind of leadership we need against this latest attack on the dignity of human life. Don’t expect to see it, however, if our next President turns out to be John McCain, who just won the Florida primary. McCain twice voted in favor of the bills expanding ESC research funding that George Bush vetoed and recently defended his position on the matter.