Imagine! Editorial On President's Veto

This is one of the best editorials I’ve read about the veto of HR 810, thanks to a Mr. Don Ehler and the Fort Worth Star Telegram (Free registration required for some content):

Posted on Tue, Jul. 25, 2006

Imagine all the aspects

By Don Erler
Special to the Star-Telegram

Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people

Living for today …

— John Lennon, Sept. 9, 1971

Add to the former Beatle’s (perhaps drug-enhanced) imagination a pair of soberly unimaginative laws of life: All slopes get slippery when wet, and we traverse slopes daily. Preventing our slide into oblivion are the legal (therefore, political and moral) footholds that we establish on the hillsides of our collective life.

Maybe you know that last Wednesday, President Bush directed the National Institutes of Health to proceed with stem cell research that would not require the destruction of human embryos.

You didn’t know that?

Oh, that’s probably because most of the news stories touching on this controversial subject mentioned only Bush’s first veto of his presidency.

He stopped federal funding for research using “spare embryos” from fertility clinics, which would otherwise be destroyed. White House press secretary Tony Snow said the president is one of those who abhor public funding of “something many people consider murder.”

You might have seen pictures of Bush hoisting 15-month-old Trey Jones, once a frozen embryo who was adopted. Said the president of Trey and similar children: “These boys and girls are not spare parts.”

At least seven points need to be made:

First: Even if Lennon’s imagination happens to be correct, the embryos in question are human life (not “potential” or “building blocks”). Each contains unique DNA, making each a unique member of the human species. There is nothing religious about this biological fact.

Second: Our constitutional system protects “persons,” not necessarily all human life. For example, the Fifth Amendment states that “No person shall … be deprived of life … without due process of law.” Article II requires the president to be a “natural born” citizen. And the 14th Amendment confers citizenship only on “persons born or naturalized in the United States.”

In short, embryos (and, for that matter, even late-term fetuses) cannot be citizens here. But they can, if we choose, be treated as “persons,” just as fetuses should be protected when they begin to resemble “normal” people.

Third: Although the fact that embryos constitute early human life is biologically incontestable, the moral status of such life remains problematical. Columnist Chuck Colson has claimed that the “supporters of embryo-destructive research … are seeking not only to destroy human life made in God’s image but also to manufacture life made in man’s image.”

Fourth: Some loonies have referred to Bush’s veto as politically inspired. If so, given opinion polling depicting a substantial majority opposing his veto, he is an inept politician. But Democrats have vowed to make this a political issue in the fall elections.

Fifth: In 2001, Bush approved research using 78 embryonic-stem-cell lines already in existence. Those stem cells had already been removed from the embryos and, therefore, could never develop into fetuses, toddlers or adults.

Yet at least one state (California) permits the kind of embryonic stem cell research that Bush vetoed. The president has not called for abolition of privately funded research or for laws requiring criminal proceedings against researchers who extract stem cells from — thereby killing — embryos.

Sixth: Not “everybody” does embryonic stem cell research. Colson noted that “Germany and France have embraced the same position President Bush has.”

Seventh: Adult stem cell research has generated treatment for at least nine (possibly as many as 80) human diseases or conditions. According to National Review Online commentator Michael Fumento, “there are 1,175 clinical trials for ASCs” (adult stem cells) vs. “zero for ESCs” (embryonic stem cells).

In other words, promising research using adult stem cells is well advanced. But research requiring the destruction of very early human life has, at least thus far, proved fruitless.

Where, on this morally and politically slippery slope, we establish footholds depends largely on whether we believe in Colson’s faith or Lennon’s imagination.

About bnuckols

Conservative Christian Family Doctor, promoting conservative news and views. (Hot Air under the right wing!)


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