Listen up: Bush’s ‘no’ is a ‘yes’ for ethics


“Do I want to see again?

“Dance again?

“Hear like I once did?

“I do not want those things at the cost of any living person, and I consider live embryos to be people."

These words were offered by a disabled woman as part of her testimony opposing embryonic stem-cell research at a Congressional hearing. Clearly, President Bush heard her voice as he vetoed for the second time the so-called “Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act,” and issued an Executive Order supporting alternative and ethically responsible stem-cell research. In announcing his veto, President Bush stated: “If this legislation became law, it would compel American taxpayers for the first time in our history to support the deliberate destruction of human embryos. I made it clear to Congress and to the American people that I will not allow our nation to cross this moral line.”

Both the Democrat-controlled House and Senate had passed the embryonic stem cell research bill, but apparently do not have enough votes to sustain an override of President Bush’s veto. The veto was met with outrage by Democratic leaders of Congress, who suggested that it was a “moral affront” to the disabled and chronically ill who would benefit from such immoral research.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi used Bush’s veto threat as a reason to send out an e-mail letter soliciting contributions to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to help elect more Democrats.

“By vetoing a bill that expands stem cell research, the president will say ‘no’ to the more than 70 percent of Americans who support it, ‘no’ to our Democratic Congress’ fight for progress, and ‘no’ to saving lives and to potential cures for diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson’s,” Pelosi wrote. “He will say ’no’ to hope.”

The President has not said no to hope, but rather has said yes to ethical research from non-embryonic stem cells. He has shown courage in rejecting the popular but false idea that embryonic stem-cell research will lead to cures of disease. Ethical research on adult stem-cells, and stem-cells from cord blood and amniotic fluid, have consistently shown greater advancement in providing cures, including recent benefits for patients with juvenile diabetes. However, many in the U.S. Congress, including Rhode Island Congressmen Jim Langevin and Patrick Kennedy and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed have refused to accept this fact and insist on supporting immoral embryonic stem-cell research.

Science must respect all human life, including early human life; and without a doubt, embryonic stem-cell research destroys human life. We too would like to see those afflicted with disability and disease see again, hear again and dance again, but even those ends cannot justify a means that destroys life. We commend President Bush for vetoing a law that would provide funding for the deliberate destruction of human life in the name of science. His action is a clear stand against the destruction of innocent human life and a defeat for the culture of death that seems to be gaining ground in the current U.S. Congress. We call upon all members of Congress, especially our own delegation – currently a “Gang of Four” – to join him in standing against destructive and immoral scientific research.