Will Bush Really Veto the Stem-Cell Bill?

As Senate pushes to pass a bill that has already made it through the House — allocating federal funds to enable and expand stem-cell research — the White House has released a “Setting the Record Straight” memorandum titled “President Bush’s Stem Cell Policy is Working” to reaffirm his committment to using his first-ever veto should the bill pass as expected.

But the president’s information is not only inaccurate, it’s ridiculous, and republicans from Senate Majority leader Frist to former First Lady Nancy Reagan have rallied behind the bill, which would essentially expand the potential for stem-cell research, which was curtailed by Bush in 2001, who compared the culling of cells from a five-day-old embryo — a glob of cells barely visible under a microscope — to abortion.

AP Medical writer Lauran Neergaard writes,

“Embryonic stem cells are essentially master cells, able to morph into all the cell types found in the body…. [T]hey potentially could grow replacements for damaged tissue ? new insulin-producing cells for Type 1 diabetics or new nerve connections to restore movement after spinal injury, for example.

As Think Progress illustrates, “while the facts have changed, Bush’s mind has not.”


Michael Kinsley, writing in the July 7 Washington Post noted the comparably acceptable practice of in vitro fertilization, which involves the death’s of numerous unused embryos, that are trashed, despite the fact that their days-old stem cells could lead to cures to diseases and the elongation of life for millions of sick people. (Kinsley writes today in TIME that he is doing well after brain surgery for Parkinsons).

Perhaps Bush’s veto is but a threat and perhaps he is willing to use it to appeal to his ever-shrinking base, and the even smaller base of evangelicals and hard-core Catholics that stand against embryonic stem cell research. But would it really be worth it to his reputation (which, as he suggests, history will determine) to use his first-ever veto on what amounts not to pro-life but to the impediment of research that would lead to the slowing or reversal of terminal illness?

Moreover, what kind of power would a president be exhibiting by veto-ing a bill, if his veto is overridden by Congress and the law is passed regardless?

Senate’s most hard-nosed opponent of the bill, Brownback (R-Kan.) has been falsely informing his colleagues that “stem-cells cause ‘tumors,'” according to reports.

Chris Nolan brings up the business side, in which further obstacles to stem-cell research in the U.S. will keep the U.S. biotech industry from competing with countries such as India and the U.K., in which the scientific study of embryonic stem-cells are encouraged and fostered.

Vetoing the embryonic stem-cell research bill makes absolutely no sense politically, morally, or otherwise. So, is he really gonna do it?

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