Politics

Stem Cell Showdown: The Facts Have Changed, President Bush Has Not

President Bush is blocking stem cell research that “could lead to treatments that save millions of lives and improve the quality-of-life for millions more.” In 2001, Bush said of the research: “I laid out the policy I think is right for America. And I’m not going to change my mind.” Indeed, while the facts have changed, Bush’s mind has not.

Today Bush released a statement explaining why he will veto H.R. 810 — the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act — which the Senate will vote on tomorrow. ThinkProgress debunks Bush’s spin:

FACT: GOV’T STEM CELL LINES UNUSABLE: Bush originally justified his position by claiming there were “more than 60” stem cell lines for researchers to work with; now we know that “many if not all of the…lines are now contaminated and unusable” because they were developed using mouse cells.

FACT: PROPOSED ETHICS GUIDELINES STRICTER THAN BUSH’S: The White House statement says that H.R. 810 “advances the proposition that the Nation must choose between science and ethics.” But H.R. 810 actually advances ethical guidelines on stem cell research “tighter than those under the President’s policy, specifically when it comes to requiring the individuals seeking fertility treatment to provide written informed consent when donating their surplus embryos.”

FACT: NO ‘LIFE OR DEATH’ DECISION INVOLVED: Today’s statement claims H.R. 810 “would use Federal taxpayer dollars to support and encourage the destruction of human life for research.” This is wrong on two counts. One, there is already a federal ban on funding for the destruction of human embryos, and H.R. 810 maintains this ban. Two, the embryos funded by H.R. 810 were “created for the purposes of in vitro fertilization…which are spare or in excess of clinical need and in every single case are slated for medical waste.” In other words, the “life or death” decision has already been made — “the donors have decided to discard these embryos and they will be discarded.”