Stem cell bill passes in the House

Too bad Bush will probably veto it and continue to block funding for this potentially life-saving research. I found this section particularly interesting:

“Research on stem cells derived from human embryos may offer great promise, but the way those cells are derived today destroys the embryo,” said the president who was speaking before a group of parents who had children using embryos that had been created for other couples using fertility treatments. President Bush has pledged to veto the bill passed this afternoon because he says it would destroy life to save life.

Followed by:

The legislation that Mr. Bush has vowed to veto would reverse the president’s ban on using federal money to conduct new embryonic stem cell research. The embryonic stem cells, the starting point for every tissue in the human body, would come from live human embryos scheduled to be discarded at fertility clinics.

So… the group of people he was speaking to — parents of children conceived using fertility treatments that resulted in the discarding of other embryos — should be in support of banning stem cell research… why? Because if we’re going with the idea that a small cluster of cells (so small and undeveloped that what type of cells they will be can’t even be determined) is the equivalent to a human life like mine, and arguably deserves the same protections, then didn’t these parents assist in “killing” when they supported a fertility clinic in having children? Because, as anti-choicers are quick to remind us, fertility clinics try and fertilize a whole lotta eggs, and only a few embryos take. So maybe I’m slow, but it seems to be that Bush was speaking to the wrong group — given that, by anti-choice standards, these people are accomplices to murder. I mean, it was the anti-choice crowd that pitched a fit about fertility technology 20 years ago, and still hasn’t given up the fight.

I also love this quote from our President:

“This allows us to explore the promise and potential of stem cell research without crossing a fundamental moral line by providing taxpayer funding that would sanction or encourage further destruction of human embryos that have at least the potential for life.”

The “potential life” argument is one that is always destined to fail. Each of my unfertilized eggs is a potential life. Every sperm cell expelled for purposes other than procreation is a potential life thwarted. But I’m not crying every time I menstruate, and, apart from some severely guilt-ridden souls, I don’t think most men cry themselves to sleep every time they masturbate. So “potential life” loses. And I simply cannot accept the argument that a cluster of yet-to-be-determined cells is a life equal in value to mine. Aren’t pro-lifers supposed to value… life? While I certainly don’t wish them any ill, I wonder if they’ve ever dealt with a family member or close friend living with Parkinsons or Alzheimers, or had someone close suffer a paralyzing injury. Because when you see someone close to you — someone who is undeniably alive — struggling to live through disease, or living differently with paralysis, you really get to thinking about what it means to value “life.” And forsaking real lives in the name of ridiculous anti-choice politics isn’t it.


Similar Posts (automatically generated):

26 comments for “Stem cell bill passes in the House

  1. michelle
    May 24, 2005 at 10:04 pm

    And “potential human life” is always worth more than the lives and suffering of countless lab animals. Jerks.

  2. BillyHW
    May 24, 2005 at 10:21 pm
  3. May 24, 2005 at 10:26 pm

    And for all the pieces of legislation for Bush to finally use his veto power on, he chooses one that is decidedly compassionate. One argument for Bush’s postition coming from a Hoosier legislator (forgot which one) is that the “Red States” shouldn’t fund something they are morally against.”

    That’s a bad argument as well. I would guess that most “Blue States” are against funding the failed faith-based initiatives. What a stupid idea for a litmus test.

  4. May 24, 2005 at 10:42 pm

    I have similar arguments. We produce many gametes throughout our life with the intention that most will not form a zygote. Even by eating, we are destroying potential life to sustain our own. So, by our very existence, we are murderers.

  5. May 24, 2005 at 10:51 pm

    The American public overwhelmingly supports embryonic stem cell research, and I don’t really think this is a red state/ blue state issue. People in red states get Parkinsons and diabetes, too.

    I think that Bush is a true believer, and I guess I kind of respect that. But it’s terrible politics. A lot of people who are gung-ho about punishing slutty women are not so keen on torturing grandma. Like the Terri Schiavo case, this makes it clear to Middle America that the Christian right is willing to impose their morality on everyone, not just on sluts and gay people and whatnot.

  6. LS
    May 24, 2005 at 11:53 pm

    My favorite part was when he said (may be inexact due to my flawed memory), “We should not use public funds to support the destruction of human life.” You sorta have to wonder what his speechwriters were smoking when they wrote that — did they honestly think people would forget about… oh… the war?

  7. May 24, 2005 at 11:58 pm

    I’m sorry- Why is Billy here?

  8. May 25, 2005 at 12:11 am

    Here’s Bush:

    President Bush has pledged to veto the bill passed this afternoon because he says it would destroy life to save life.

    Here’s Jim Dobson (from an earlier post):

    “The ends definitely justify the means,” said Dobson. “If it takes unethical and immoral acts to make this a more ethical America, then — what are we waiting for?”

    I hope I’m not the only one that sees a bit of a double standard here.

  9. BillyHW
    May 25, 2005 at 1:39 am

    Am I the only one who’s capable of detecting humour here? Heliologue: That Dobson quote was fake, it was satire.

    Sheesh…you people.

  10. May 25, 2005 at 9:42 am

    Humor? Not anymore: my cynicism’s got the better of me. With the crazy shit the GOP has been saying in Congress lately, that particular piece aroused my ire but not my suspicion. Erk.

  11. May 25, 2005 at 11:02 am

    I’m with Heliologue. Considering that that’s the way Dobson et al think, it wouldn’t be that suprising if it slipped out in a speech somewhere. When these people are doing and saying ridiculous, insane things constantly, you can’t blame us for being less than suspicious when we see them quoted as saying other ridiculous, insane things.

  12. Pingback: feministing
  13. janet
    May 25, 2005 at 1:23 pm

    I think there’s a misunderstanding here: Bush was speaking to “a group of parents who had children using embryos that had been created for other couples using fertility treatments.” “Other couples” is the key phrase here. There is a movement among some anti-abortion purists to “adopt” embryos that would otherwise be discarded.

    I’m not defending him or his position, which I think is ridiculous, just pointing out that his rhetoric was probably falling on very receptive ears.

  14. May 25, 2005 at 1:46 pm

    Bush used this group of kids to misrepresent what is really a very small population. From what I understand, this “adoption of embryos” thing is in its infancy (no pun intended), and the clinic he spoke of has done less than 100 “adoptions.”

    Are the original donors aware of their DNA being handed out for a fee? I’d like to see DeLay explain the ethical implications of that. “But they would have been thrown out anyway!” Exactly.

  15. janet
    May 25, 2005 at 2:13 pm

    Permission from the original couple is needed to use the embryos for research or to donate them to another couple for implantation. I’m not sure whether the clinic needs specific permission to discard the embryos, or whether after a certain period of time, when the embryos have passed their “use-by” date, they can get rid of them.

    Of course, there are other reasons to donate embryos to another couple: maybe the other couple has been pursuing fertility treatment and hasn’t been able to produce a viable embryo of their own, for example. So the original couple doesn’t necessarily know that their situation is being used for political gain.

  16. Kyra
    May 25, 2005 at 5:46 pm

    The President says stem-cell research would “Destroy life to save life.” Apparently he thinks this is wrong.

    Why, then, is he fully supporting the war in Iraq, which has destroyed a whole lotta life in order to (not save) protect life. And it’s not doing anything of the sort.

    Dubya’s theory: Destroying beings of a few hundred cells in order to help living, breathing, loving, feeling, thinking people cope with debilitating diseases and reduce the suffering of their loved ones: wrong. Killing over a hundred thousand living, breathing, loving, feeling, thinking people and putting their loved ones through hell in order to destroy a potential threat against those same people who are not worth destroying embryos for? Perfectly OK.

    Translation: Bush and friends are willing to tolerate the death of thousands of people for our safety (and that’s just the “collateral damage”), but not willing to tolerate the destruction of potential people for our lives.

    There’s something seriously wrong with valuing embryoes more than lives. (Maybe the Right thinks people like Iraqis and women who don’t want to be pregnant all had their chance and wasted it by becoming what they are, and so deserve to have their human rights usurped by the unborn, who might become good churchgoing, childbearing, Republican-voting Americans or good occupation-supporting, America-loving, oil-supplying Iraqis.)

  17. BillyHW
    May 26, 2005 at 1:11 am

    Kyra, couldn’t you at least *try* to understand the President’s position fairly, even if you don’t agree with it? Do you really think the President would hold to a moral position that is so self-contradictory that a two-year old could disect it into pieces, just like you did? He’s the POTUS, he got elected twice, he really can’t be as stupid as you think he is, couldn’t you at least give him 5 minutes of your time, to try and understand where he’s coming from?

    Let me try and explain to you the President’s thinking on this. We think alike, he and I, so if you really want to understand him, and not just throw mocking insults, you’ll pay attention.

    Like the vast majority of people on this planet, the President is not a relativist. This means he believes in the existence of an absolute moral code that all people can come to a knowledge of. The President also believes that the Christian faith has the best and most complete understanding of this moral code. Thus his moral decision making is guided by this philosophy just like the moral decision making of feminist politicians is guided by their philosophies.

    Now, one fundamental concept in Christian moral theology is that one can’t do something that’s evil so that good may come of it. This is what St. Paul speaks about in Romans 3:8 (see the link I posted in my first comment on this thread: http://tinyurl.com/alzbs). No matter how little the evil may be and no matter how great the good may be that results from it, a Christian is not permitted to violate this moral law under any circumstances. (Incidentally, you can pretty much tell a true Christian from a fake by seeing if they truly understand the concept behind this one verse).

    This is why the President cannot support embyonic stem-cell research. Science has proven that the human embryo, from the moment of conception (fertilization) is alive (it’s metabolizing glucose) and that it possesses it’s very own unique genetic code. That genetic code is a full and complete human genetic code. Thus it is a human life. It is also manifest that this human life is innocent of any wrongdoing. Now, another Christian moral law says that, barring a direct commandment from God to do otherwise, it is always morally wrong to directly kill an innocent human life. It does not matter that so much good may come of it’s destruction. It does not matter that millions might be cured of diseases as a result of embryonic stem-cell research (though those claims are dishonest, all the real cures and treatments are coming from morally acceptable adult stem-cell research). Since embyonic stem-cell research involves the destruction of the human embryo, it is never licit.

    to be continued…

  18. BillyHW
    May 26, 2005 at 1:55 am

    The President says stem-cell research would “Destroy life to save life.” Apparently he thinks this is wrong.

    Why, then, is he fully supporting the war in Iraq,

    Easy, just as Christian moral code says that it is wrong everywhere and always (barring a direct commandment from God to do otherwise) to kill innocent human life, that same Christian moral code permits (yea, even sometimes compels) one to take guilty life under certain circumstances.

    When the President says that it is wrong to “destroy life to save life” he is assuming that he is speaking to a biblically literate audience. This is a bad assumption, on his part, to make. To spell it out for you, Bush assumes his audience knows that he is talking about innocent life. He is saying it is wrong to “destroy [innocent] life to save life”.

    Now to the war. Recall that Christianity permits the taking of guilty life under certain circumstances. Now I’m sure we can all agree that Saddam Hussein was a very guilty man. One of the circumstances in which it is permissable to take guilty life is in a just war. It’s OKAY TO KILL THE BAD GUYS. If you don’t acknowledge that then you are saying that it was not possible to offer any resistance to the Nazis during WWII. I won’t get into the whole Christian just war theory here, but President Bush believes that the Iraq war met the requirements to be what is called “just war”. So according to his moral beliefs he was acting within the bounds of proper moral law when he ordered troops to war in Iraq.

    But what about all the innocent civilians that were killed by coalition soldiers? Wouldn’t that be wrong everywhere and always then?

    This is indeed tragic, but civilians were not targeted. It was never the intention of coalition troops in Iraq to directly kill innocent civilians whether as an end or a means to an end. The coalition targeted and killed the BAD GUYS (Saddam and his rapist thugs), which was a *GOOD* THING. They went to extraordinary lengths to target them directly and avoid harm to innocents. However, it was not always possible to avoid innocent deaths completely.

    Isn’t that just as bad? After all, they KNEW that innocent civilians would necessarily die as a result of their actions.

    It can just as bad, but not always. If the deaths of the BAD GUYS (Saddam and his rapist thugs) leads to many more lives being saved (because the BAD GUYS are no longer around to keep filling those mass graves with the dead bodies of innocent women and children), then it is okay to proceed with actions that may unwillingly result in the deaths of innocents. This is not a a violation of Romans 3:8.

    President Bush clearly believes (and I agree with him), that the removal of the Baathist regime will result in many more lives saved over the long run than those that will have died from crossfire in the war. Thus, he is acting in morally good faith.

    So your accusation that he’s being contradictory or hypocritical isn’t fair. He’s just being a good Christian.

  19. jam
    May 26, 2005 at 7:15 am

    Lord save us from the “good Christians”….

  20. Quisp
    May 26, 2005 at 10:46 am

    No matter how little the evil may be and no matter how great the good may be that results from it, a Christian is not permitted to violate this moral law under any circumstances.

    …and yet…

    If the deaths of the BAD GUYS (Saddam and his rapist thugs) leads to many more lives being saved (because the BAD GUYS are no longer around to keep filling those mass graves with the dead bodies of innocent women and children), then it is okay to proceed with actions that may unwillingly result in the deaths of innocents.

    Your morality is incoherent, self-repudiating and dangerous. However, using your reasoning: the use of embryonic stem cells is not evil if I do not mean (as in, consciously, or as you say, “willingly”) to destroy innocent human life.

    I would also like to underline what is probably obvious to those of us not posting from the computer lab at Bellevue: everyone who has ever killed anyone — whether we’re talking about individuals or states — thinks they are killing “bad” or “guilty” or “non-human” people and innocent life only by accident.

    That’s not moral clarity, Billy. It’s an excuse.

  21. Quisp
    May 26, 2005 at 11:15 am

    Oh, I forgot something. Bush’s position, as he said last night, is that he is against “destroying innocent life” and so does not want to use federal funds to do so. Excuse me, but if it’s a life, then it’s criminal to kill it; it’s not a matter of which funds you use to pay for the killing.

    Also, as to your representation that it is “manifest” that the embryonic citizen is innocent of any wrong-doing, I don’t see how you can say that without getting down in there with your moral microscope and observe what microscopic crimes are being commiting by that dividing cell in the name of its own microscopic self-interest. Where is that cell getting its glucose for its microscopic metabilism you’re so fond of? It seems to me that glucose belongs to another human being with rights (or as you would call them, “rights”).

  22. May 26, 2005 at 8:39 pm

    This one may come as a shocker, but I’m pretty sure that most people in the world are actually relativists, whether they know it or not. Yeah, most people figure it’s wrong to steal, but if the only way a person could eat was to steal some food, I’m sure they would put aside any moral scruples in order to survive to the next day.

    Or maybe I’m wrong, and instead I’m just a bad Christian.

  23. Pingback: feministing
  24. Jade
    May 29, 2005 at 6:48 am

    Bingo, Robert. We like to believe in a black and white world but it’s actually quite grey.

  25. May 29, 2005 at 8:22 am

    Well, if Billy’s definition of Christianity holds true, then I suppose I’m not a “real” Christian. Personally, I think Christ would be ashamed that so many ignorant, bigoted, intolerant people have hijacked His name for their own selfish purposes.

    Now, for an on-topic comment:
    As I commented over at Feministing, my boyfriend has severe Type I diabetes. I think it’s horrible and wrong to discard hundreds of thousands of (unwanted!) embryos rather than use them to find cures for the millions of people like my boyfriend who suffer from diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, etc. How is discarding “life” more morally right than “destroying” it?

  26. May 29, 2005 at 11:06 am

    BillyHW the Utilitarian Christian says:

    President Bush clearly believes (and I agree with him), that the removal of the Baathist regime will result in many more lives saved over the long run than those that will have died from crossfire in the war. Thus, he is acting in morally good faith.

    If there was ever an argument for a Utilitarian to make, it would be for the use of embryonic stem cells to save lives.

    Billy, you fancy yourself a warrior in the culture war. What’s funny is that, unlike your parents and grandparents, you will most likely get to experience a country where same-sex marriage is taken to be a civil right. Hopefully, one day, you will consider the life of an Iraqi to be equal to the life of an American. Your morality sickens me.

Comments are closed.