Bush Should Reconsider Funding Stem-Cell Research
Working its way through Congress is a new, bipartisan stem-cell bill which would provide federal funding to the National Institute of Health (NIH) to conduct research on new embryonic stem-cell lines. Unfortunately, President Bush has vowed to veto the bill.
The bill is very specific in its guidelines and would only permit research on embryos that would otherwise be discarded by fertility clinics. All embryos would have to be donated with the consent of the donor couple. Nevertheless, there truly are serious ethical questions involved. Despite what some on the left may want you to think, social conservatives aren’t anti-science or needlessly cruel in their position. An embryo is the first stage of life. And any experimentation on life should be undertaken carefully to ensure no ethical standards are violated.
This is why the new bill deserves support. By limiting research only to embryos that would otherwise be discarded, we are not creating life for the soul purpose of an experiment. In fact, fertility clinics create embryos for the soul purpose of advancing life and providing couples with the blessing of a child. Few would be willing to argue that fertility clinics are unethical. Thus, providing the unused embryos to the NIH should be acceptable. Morally, I think it is better to use those embryos to help develop cures that might improve the quality of life rather than just discarding them.
President Bush, while supportive of the research, feels this is not an area the federal government should be involved in funding. To me, that seems like one of those so-called compromise solutions that is no compromise at all. If President Bush believes it is ethical to work with new embryonic stem cell lines, then it should be ethical to fund such research. If Bush believes the research is unethical, then he should be moving to outlaw the practice all together.
Instead, President Bush’s policy creates an untenable middle ground. The difficult ethics of the science are the very reason why the federal government should get involved. By providing funding, the government can also provide significant guidance in the development of strong ethical standards and research guidelines. By refusing funding, Bush is only guaranteeing that a broad range of ethical standards will develop, some almost assuredly less well-considered than the new bill in Congress.
Permitting research but denying funding is not a compromise solution. The real compromise is to provide funding but require research to be carried out on the government’s (i.e. the people’s) terms. The new bill is strong legislation. The President should support it.