May 26, 2005

Culture Club


From The New York Times: House Approves a Stem Cell Research Bill Opposed by Bush:

The House passed a bill on Tuesday to expand federal financing for embryonic stem cell research, defying a veto threat from President Bush, who appeared at the White House with babies and toddlers born of test-tube embryos and warned the measure "would take us across a critical ethical line." ...

The House vote followed an impassioned lobbying campaign by advocates for patients, including Nancy Reagan. Mrs. Reagan, who became a strong backer of stem cell research as her husband struggled with Alzheimer's disease, telephoned fellow Republicans this week urging a yes vote, [said the bill's chief Republican backer, Representative Michael N. Castle of Delaware.] ...

The White House event, on what conservative Christians and the president call an important "culture of life" issue, demonstrated just how far Mr. Bush is willing to assert himself on policy that goes to what he considers the moral heart of his presidency. ...

[T]he embryonic stem cell debate ... inflamed the passions of the House, sounding at various times like a lesson in cell biology, a theological discourse and a personal confessional. Lawmaker after lawmaker came to the House well to recount struggles with conscience and searing personal experiences with death and disease.

Representative Jim Langevin, Democrat of Rhode Island, rolled to the microphone in his motorized wheelchair to speak of his spinal cord injury, which he said could be helped by the research. Representative Jo Ann Emerson, Republican of Missouri, told of a young man named Cody, who had been paralyzed in a car accident at age 16 and asked her to rethink her opposition to embryonic stem cell studies.

"I later wrote a note to Cody's family telling them that even after hearing his story, I couldn't do as he asked," Ms. Emerson said, "and I have regretted writing that letter ever since."

UPDATE -- May 29: An excellent editorial on this issue from the Ayn Rand Institue: The Anti-Life Opposition to Embryonic Stem Cell Research by David Holcberg and Alex Epstein.

[T]to attribute rights to embryos is to call for the violation of actual rights. Since the purpose of rights is to enable individuals to secure their well-being, a crucial right, inherent in the right to liberty and property, is the right to do scientific research in pursuit of new medical treatments. To deprive scientists of the freedom to use clusters of cells to do such research is to violate their rights--as well as the rights of all who would contribute to, invest in, or benefit from this research.

Posted by Forkum at May 26, 2005 05:48 PM