President Bush has stood firm stating that he will not allow for government funding for embryonic stem cell research, so when the House and Senate passed a bill that would pony up government funds for embryonic stem cell research, President Bush kept his word and vetoed it. And that’s his first veto. Why he couldn’t have vetoed the hideous McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act? Grrr.

I have heard supporters of the bill say that President Bush is keeping alive the ban on stem cell research with this veto, but scientists are able to research stem cells, both adult and embryonic. There is no government ban on research. The ban, such as it is, is on government funding of the research. And that is problem for proponents of embryonic stem cell research. There are so many possible benefits from embryonic stem cell benefits, they say, that the government should be giddy with joy to pay for the research itself. But here’s a question for you — if there are so many potential benefits just waiting to be discovered in embryonic stem cell research, why is the private sector not rushing to fund the research? Why should the government reach into your pocket and mine to fund research?

Captain Ed does a great job addressing this issue, and the comments left by people on his site are interesting. Here is one posted by jiHymas:

Cap’n Ed : The lack of private investment in this procedure tells volumes about its value.

Er, no. The lack of private investment in this procedure tells volumes about its potential for immediate profitability.

There’s a difference, a big difference. Private industry could and should undertake applied research, the transforming of the ‘possible’ into the ‘done’, but basic research is more appropriately funded by government.

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Since jiHymas says that basic research like embryonic stem cell research is more appropriately funded by the government, perhaps he could point to the specific line in Article I Section 8 in the Constitution that grants Congress the power to pay for this research. I certainly can’t find it. But this hasn’t stopped Congress from forking out our taxed money to pay for services that they have no business supporting. And currently the government is funding embryonic stem cell research.

Yes, you read me right. President Bush did call for and got government funding for embryonic stem cell research, almost $100 million dollars worth of funding. Go back and read my first paragraph. This is the explanation commonly held that President Bush has said there will be no funding of embryonic stem cell research, but his own words today show this is not the case (emphases mine):

When I took office, there was no federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research. Under the policy I announced five years ago, my administration became the first to make federal funds available for this research, yet only on embryonic stem cell lines derived from embryos that have already been destroyed.

My administration has made available more than $90 million for research on these lines.

This policy has allowed important research to go forward without using taxpayer funds to encourage the further deliberate destruction of human embryos.

So contrary to the commonly held view, the federal government is providing funding for embryonic stem cell research, but it is holding the line at funding to create more embryonic cells for research. And I support President Bush in this. There is no need to sacrifice more embryos on the alter of science since we currently have cell lines to research. I, like Captain Ed, believe that life can be traced back to the moment of conception. Here is how Captain Ed wrote it.

I believe that life begins within minutes of conception, and that belief is based on science, not faith, although they intersect. Eggs and sperm carry 23 chromosomes, half of the genetic blueprint for human life. Even if other primates have the same chromosome count, the DNA encoding on human eggs and sperm is uniquely human. When the sperm fertilizes the egg, the separate DNA strands combine into 23 pairs of chromosomes and a unique blueprint for a unique human being. Once the cell divides on its own — usually within a half-hour — that being is alive, unique, and separate from, though dependent on, its mother.

At no other point can you point to and say “here it is human” other than at conception. While birth is certainly an important step along the path of life, it is at conception that the gametes fuse and become something different from the parents yet still identifiably human. People have argued that point with me, and my typical response is to ask them to identify what the result of conception has become if it isn’t human. The discussion tends to wander off to questions of viability and choice, but the question is almost never answered when I ask it.

I applaud President Bush taking a moral stand on this bill. I wish that other Republicans in the House and Senate could also take a moral and principled stand on this issue.

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