The Scientific Activist

Bush Vetoes Stem Cell Act

After it passed in the Senate on Tuesday, Bush proved he was as stubborn as promised and vetoed HR 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, on Wednesday. This was another step backwards for science in the US and a clear violation of the will of the American People. What a shame.


  1. #1 Matthew C. Nisbet
    July 20, 2006

    I have this overview on how, unfortunately, Bush came out on top yesterday in the battle over the visual.

  2. #2 Timothy Hughbanks
    July 20, 2006

    In casting the only veto of the 5½ year disaster that is his administration, George Bush has once again demonstrated his moral bankruptcy. The use of embryonic stem cells may or may not live up to the promise many medical scientists hope that they offer. The question of whether this promise will be realized can only be settled by the kind of research for which President Bush’s executive order prohibits the allocation of federal funds.
    As most news reports have mentioned (in their closing paragraphs), there are 400,000 frozen embryos created by doctors using in vitro fertilization techniques that come from women who wanted to give birth to their biological children. The vast majority of those embryos will never be implanted and only 128 have been “adopted” by other couples. Thus, for every 3000 of these frozen embryos, 2999 will be thrown away if the women from whom their unfertilized precursors were taken do not use them. President Bush has to know this – when he endorses “embryo adoptions” as an alternative to embryo disposal, he is presenting a cynical red herring to divert attention from the true purpose of his policy: catering to his right-wing base.
    Defenders of the president’s position point out that he has not banned stem cell research – only its access to federal funding. This situation calls to mind the immoral hypocrisy the president exhibited during the Terri Schiavo circus. As governor, Mr. Bush signed the Texas futile-care act into law (, which specifically lists “artificial nutrition and hydration” as among the services that can be discontinued if a patient is deemed to be certain to die. A health-care provider can refuse to care for a patient if the prognosis is deemed to be hopeless – even if the patient has normal brain activity and, presumably, even if the patient expresses a desire to continue treatment. There is no provision in the law for any “care provider” of last resort. A committee of physicians (who could be doctors affiliated with the same HMO that wants to discontinue treatment) merely has to decide the patient’s prognosis is hopeless. In defending his stem-cell decision, the president spoke of stem-cell research as crossing a moral boundary. Why is such research morally reprehensible when federally funded, but acceptable when conducted by private companies? Why has the president not campaigned for laws banning private stem-cell research? Why has the president not campaigned for a ban on in vitro fertilization, since it is that practice that actually gives rise to the embryos the president pretends to care about? Just as in the denial-of-care case, George Bush’s moral boundaries dissolve when there is a buck to be made or a political base to be appeased.

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