Bailey On Stem Cells and Life
Reason's Ron Bailey wrote the following shortly after the President's first veto:
Bush claims he’s blocking stem cell research because each embryo “is a unique human life with inherent dignity and matchless value.” If that were true, we would constantly be in the midst of a holocaust. John Opitz, a professor of pediatrics, human genetics, and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Utah, testified before the President’s Council on Bioethics that millions of embryos — between 60 percent and 80 percent of all naturally conceived embryos — are simply flushed out in women’s normal menstrual flows unnoticed. This is not miscarriage we’re talking about. The women and their husbands or partners never even know that conception has taken place. What are we to think about the fact that Nature (and for believers, Nature’s God) profligately creates and destroys human embryos?
Of course, culturally we do not mourn the deaths of these millions of embryos as we would the death of a child — and reasonably so, because we do in fact know that these embryos are not people. Similarly, 3- to 5-day old frozen embryos leftover from in vitro fertilization attempts are not people either. It is true that every person was once an embryo, but not all — in fact, most embryos do not become people.
Back in 2001, President Bush declared in a nationally televised speech that he was restricting federal funds to research on existing embryonic stem cell lines, “where the life and death decision has already been made.” The bill that Bush vetoed would have allowed federal funding for research using stem cell lines derived from embryos leftover from fertility treatments. Studies show there are as many as 400,000 surplus embryos currently frozen in U.S. fertility clinics. Since the couples who created the embryos have no intention of implanting them in an attempt to bear children, those frozen embryos are just like the embryos that produced the stem cell lines that President Bush supports — the “life and death decision” has already been made for them. The vast majority of those spare embryos will simply be discarded unless they are used for stem cell research.