Pro-lifers wrong on stem cell issueI’ve certainly criticized President Obama enough since he’s taken office and even more when he was a presidential candidate.
By: Bonnie Erbe, The Dickinson Press
I’ve certainly criticized President Obama enough since he’s taken office and even more when he was a presidential candidate. But I don’t hesitate to applaud him when he does something right. One of his advisers told a Sunday television talk show the president is now on the precipice of overturning yet another Bush era policy that pushed us back.
When the Clinton administration ended in 2000, we were a country moving forward. When President George Bush left office last month, in a matter of just eight years he had pushed the country back by at least 50 years. The following excerpt from a Reuters article helps explain why:
“In 2001, Bush limited federal funding for stem cell research only to human embryonic stem cell lines that already existed. It was a gesture to his conservative Christian supporters who regard embryonic stem cell research as destroying potential life, because the cells must be extracted from human embryos. Embryonic stem cells are the most basic human cells, which can develop into any type of cell in the body. Scientists believe the research could eventually produce cures for a variety of diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, heart disease and spinal cord injuries.”
Bush’s kowtowing to the religious right pushed us so indescribably backward in terms of social policy, I felt like I’d moved to Afghanistan during the Taliban’s reign. Many of us felt that repressed, both by the injection of religion and morality so deeply into federal law, and by the feeling Big Brother was watching our every move for no good reason.
Note the verbiage in the Reuters article above, which says that the Christian right opposed stem cell research because its members see use of embryonic stem cells as destruction or murder of “potential life.” These people need to get a life. They care more about potential life than actual living, breathing, grown up human beings. They are costing lives while pretending to campaign as pro-lifers.
My father died of multiple myeloma — cancer of the bone marrow — two-and-a-half years ago. He believed stem cell research could have saved his life by leading to a cure for his disease. There is no cure for multiple myeloma. His life withered long before that cure became reality.
So-called pro-lifers can be reasonably blamed for playing a part in delaying cures for various forms of cancer and other diseases mentioned above. They denied researchers in the United States the opportunity to use embryonic stem cells. Scientists know embryonic stem cells reproduce and change much more easily than the lines of stem cells to which President Bush limited research. How anyone could twist that position into claiming the mantra of “pro-life” is beyond me.
I used to cover the Supreme Court for a radio network. During one heated abortion-related argument, the usual suspects were parading around in front of the court with dead fetuses in bottles and enlarged pictures of same. Some women’s rights advocates stood alongside and parodied these protesters. One in particular was dressed up in a 1950s-style dress with a high waistline and pillbox hat. She was holding a boiled egg in an eggcup and a large sign across her torso that read, “Menstruation is murder.” I always recall a vision of that protester when I see so-called pro-lifers. Eggs are, after all, potential life, in much the same way as frozen embryos. A logical extension of pro-life policy would be to ban menstruation.
I’m not naive enough to believe President Obama’s election signaled a major shift in Americans’ personal moral beliefs. His election was all about great strategy, great fundraising and great timing. Had it not been for the stock market crash of mid-September, Sen. John McCain might now be president, because the polls were extremely tight before the economy became the central theme of the ‘08 presidential campaign.
But I do hope that when Obama approves federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, and cures for cancer and other now-deadly diseases are discovered years hence, pro-lifers will admit they were wrong on this issue.
— Erbe is a TV host and writes for Scripps Howard News Service.