Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Saving Lives?

WARNING! This post is a little more political than most of my others. I debated not posting it. However, I felt that it fit in with my overall theme of sticking to logic to make your points. So I am posting it anyway. You have been warned.

I’m very confused by a major news event today. President Bush has once again vetoed a bill that would have allowed federal funds to be used to support embryonic stem cell research. My confusion is not with his decision to veto the bill. For the record, I firmly agree with this veto. In fact, I wish he would find more spending bills to veto. As it stands the only issue that he seems to feel strongly enough about to cast his veto is federal funding for stem cell research. In vetoing this bill President Bush said,
"Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical, and it is not the only option before us,"
Stated as such I agree with his moral dilemma. But there is much more to this issue.
Here comes the confusion. For the sake of this argument let’s avoid the whole controversial discussion of whether or not a fertilized embryo constitutes a “human life”. Let’s assume that it is. A careful reading of this bill, HR 810 will reveal that the only embryos that are being considered for research funding are surplus embryos from fertility clinics.
What steps will this veto take to save these human lives? The answer: absolutely nothing. The sanctity of these human lives are now being preserved right up to the point that the fertility clinic needs more space in the fridge and they are discarded to the garbage can. In spite of what he insinuated this veto does absolutely nothing to prevent fertility clinics from, “destroying human life”
It is obvious to me that this is just a political tool. By denying a little bit of funding he can stand on his soapbox, thump his chest and appease his pro-life constituents. If he really felt strongly that a fertilized embryo in a fridge in a fertility clinic constituted a human life then why doesn’t he do something about it? He could call on Congress to enact legislation that would force fertility clinics not to create the surplus embryos in the first place. But, wait a minute that could backfire.
Few people on the planet could be more appropriately labeled as pro-life than a couple trying to get pregnant. However with the current technology if they visit a fertility clinic they will likely make several embryos and only bring one or two of them to full term. They then leave the surplus embryos to be stored or discarded. If you accept that these embryos are “human life” then in a very real sense every couple that has a child with the assistance of a fertility clinic is guilty of destroying several human lives in the hopes of creating one or two. Now that we’ve established that the veto does nothing to save life it should be obvious that the President’s claim is a red herring and his moral dilemma described above is, at best, a non sequitor.
Mr. President, I have no objection to you vetoing this bill because you don’t think it is a constitutional function of government. But, please don’t stand on your soapbox and proclaim that you are protecting the sanctity of life. Your veto will save zero lives. The embryos in question are being discarded anyway. You are doing nothing to prevent that. Yet the potential of stem-cell research could save millions of born and unborn “human lives”.


  1. Anonymous4:28 PM

    I wonder how many of his constituants look into his actions as deeply as you do, and if the Pro-Life'ers are even concerned about the "leftovers" on the fridge.

    Your point can be paralleled with another headilne a few lines down.. "14 US soldiers die in Iraq" 14 human lives, and aparently there is not a debate as to whether or not they are alive yet, loose thier lives doing what? Trying to protect or better the lives of other human. HMM,, it's ok to take or give a human life in the name of war, and TRILLIONS of dollars are spent on that, but spending a small percentage of that on curing a dibillitating, or life threatning disease is out of the question.

    Still doesn't make much sense...

  2. Canisunis4:29 PM

    Did not mean for that to be anonymous....

  3. I avoided drawing the parallel between the soldiers and the embryos for one important reason. There is little argument that the soldiers had at least some amount of choice in the matter.

  4. The comparison to soldiers is appropriate in that it speaks to Bush's character. He doesn't really believe that "destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical" as evidenced by his ordering troops into harms way. He has the power to prevent the destruction of soldiers lives by ordering the withdrawal from Iraq and other combat zones, but he doesn't because he believes that more lives will be saved than destroyed by staying there. Basically it shows Bush to be a hypocrite.

  5. Another blogger whose opinion I respect had this to say about this same subject: