Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bush's Veto and Stupidity

Of all the things Pres. Bush could have vetoed and didn’t, he shot down a bill that could resulted in the cures for the most dangerous and debilitating of diseases. And he did not because the science of stem cells is bad or because it has a negative effect on the U.S. economy. No, this man vetoed a bill passed overwhelmingly by the U.S. House and Senate because, as Press Secretary Tony Snow said, “The president is not going to get on the slippery slope of taking something living and making it dead for the purposes of scientific research.”

There are so many problems with this statement I really am confused on where to begin. I guess I’ll start with the obvious: WE ALREADY DO THAT! In the U.S. alone, we kill 115 million animals a year in medical testing. We literally “take something living and [make] it dead for the purpose of scientific research.”

You might say, well, animals aren’t human. Well, neither are the embryos that were grown in tubes for in vitro fertilization treatments. Sure, that’s debatable but here are the facts:

During in vitro fertilization treatments, doctors create numerous embryos from a combination of eggs from a mother and sperm from a father. The doctor then takes the embryo in a day-3 or day-5 stage (called a blastocyst) and implants it in the carrying mother’s womb. If it takes (about 20-30 percent chance), a baby born. If it doesn’t, they try again.

Here’s the thing, fertility doctors create several embryos and then freeze them, store them and thaw them if they are needed for further treatments. Many times, the extra embryos just stay on ice.

Mother Jones recently did a story about the frozen embryos. It reported that approximately 500,000 embryos are frozen and stored right now. Another report estimates that 6 million embryos have been discarded already. Clinical trials have only shown the embryos to be implantable if the procedure is completed in the first nine years. After that (and sometimes well before), the embryo is discarded – as in “thrown away in the trash.”

That brings us to the current events stuff: Congress authorized stem-cell research on those frozen and to-be-discarded embryos Tuesday. And that is exactly what Pres. Bush vetoed.

How can I say the embryos in question are not human? Well, because of the development cycle of a fetus. In the stage the in vitro doctors use, the embryo looks like this:

It is a fertilized egg that has divided a few times. It hasn’t even implanted into the uterine lining yet.

The Morning After Pill, RU486, stops the growth and implantation of exactly what we are talking about here. It’s hardly an issue. It isn’t even close to the same thing as abortion.

For the sake of argument, I’ll grant that the embryo is human for the time being. Even if they are human, they are not alive. They are frozen and non-implanted. They have zero chance of survival if thawed and not implanted. We aren’t dealing with late-term abortion here. We are talking about a cluster of cells that are on ice, created artificially, and incapable of survival absent implantation.

Part of what shocks me is the hypocrisy of the whole thing. (The Roman Catholic Church is consistent so, for the time being, when I say Christian, I am not including it.) But many of the evangelicals who opposed to researching stem cells that come from these frozen embryos support the use of in vitro fertilization. It is this very process, which they support, that creates the surplus of embryos. This surplus cannot be frozen indefinitely and so they will either be trashed or used in research to cure diseases.

Apparently, Pres. Bush would rather them be thrown away. If he really was opposed to the destruction of frozen embryos he would be against IVF. But you don’t here him come out against that.

I am totally OK with using the excess embryos to enhance individual’s quality of life as is most of the country, Senate, and House of Representatives. Too bad one man gets to make a decision like this.

-JS

Cross-posted from Josh Studor's States of the Union Blog

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