2006-08-04 / Columnists

From The Right

Bush Vetoes Embryonic Stem Cell Bill
By Eric Ulrich


Editors note: Eric Ulrich is a weekly columnist for the See-N-Save Neighborhood News in Ozone Park as well as a member of the Rockaway Republicans. Last year, he ran for district leader in the 23rd AD and lost by a mere 124 votes. His column will present the Republican view of political issues until columnist Stu Mirsky's column is restored after the November election.

With a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, one could easily assume that the legislative process would be smooth and productive. Typically, that is the case in our nation's capital where Republicans hold a strong majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Under these circumstances, the President simply signs the bills congress passes enacting them into law. However, on July 19th that was not the case as President Bush affirmatively vetoed a bill authorizing the use of federal money for embryonic stem cell research. This was Bush's first veto since taking office.

The controversial measure arrived on the president's desk during the peak of a mid-term election year in which Republicans are fighting to maintain their leadership. Some Senators, including Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee), have unfortunately succumbed to the political pressure and broken ranks with the administration. Senator Frist, along with several other republicans, has decided to support the bill, which would in effect provide millions of taxpayer dollars to fund this type of research.

Over the past few years, the issue of stem cell research has perhaps caused more confusion than any other issue. Since this is a relatively new issue, many unscientific people (including this columnist) have been dumbfounded by what the media portrays as a simple issue that contains the miracle cures for the diseases of our time. What the liberal media has failed to do is report stem cell research as a complex issue that transcends the pro-life/pro-choice debate.

First off, there are two types of stem cell research, embryonic stem cell research and adult stem cell research. The controversy surrounding the issue is regarding the stem cell research using human embryos. While proponents of embryonic stem cell research promise the potential for cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and various forms of cancer, they neglect to mention the drawbacks and possible dangers of the unethical research.

At the heart of the stem cell debate is the value of human life at its very beginning. Stem cells are "blank" cells, which can become all 210 different kinds of human tissue. We have stem cells throughout our bodies, but they are most abundant in human embryos. To get embryonic stem cells, however, requires killing human life at its most vulnerable stage. This destructive research also involves the cloning of human embryos when aborted fetuses are not available. Besides this, so far embryonic stem cell research has yielded NO cure to date for any disease whatsoever! In fact, there is not even a human trial to prove its effectiveness.

Proponents are asking the federal and state governments to fund this research because much of the private money has dried up. Private laboratories and biotech companies have shied away from embryonic stem cell research because they view it as a waste of money when adult stem cells have proven to be more promising and ethical.

Adult stem cell research requires no cloning or use of aborted fetuses. Adult stem cells can be extracted from the bone marrow, placenta, umbilical cord, even from the skin. Such ethical research has proved to be successful thus far. For example, immune systems destroyed by cancer were restored in children using stem cells from umbilical-cord blood. Also, it has been proven by scientists and doctors that the use of a patients' own bone marrow or blood stem cells leads to long-term recovery from various types of solid tumors. President Bush supports this type of stem cell research, and has allocated more than $190 million dollars from the federal budget to continue its exploration.

Our nation must vigorously pursue the tremendous possibility that science offers to cure disease and improve the lives of millions.We have opportunities to discover cures and treatments that were unthinkable generations ago. Yet we must also remember that embryonic stem cells come from human embryos that are eventually destroyed. Each of these human embryos is a unique human life with inherent dignity and matchless value. With the right techniques and the right policies, we can achieve scientific progress while living up to our moral standards. Taxpayers should not be forced to pay for destructive research that many deem to be wrong. Embryonic stem cell research comes at a cost of human life and who is to say that we should pay that price?

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