Bush's Veto and Executive Order Advance Research While Respecting Human Life.
"Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical and it is not the only option before us," the President said of the bill, S5.
"We're already seeing remarkable advances in the science and therapeutic uses of stem cells drawn from adults and children, and the blood from umbilical cords with no harm to the donor." (See presidential remarks, page 9.)
Predictably, Mr. Bush came under withering attack from proponents of embryonic stem cells. "It's just one example of how the president puts ideology before science, politics before the needs of our families," said Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) the day of the veto. The June 7 comments of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) were also revealing.
"Science has taken us to a place that is biblical in its power to cure," Pelosi said, "and that is the embryonic stem cell research."
But as NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson observed, "Since not a single human being has benefited from any procedure using embryonic stem cells, Pelosi's statement is yet another demonstration that the congressional Democratic leadership is more interested in demagoguery than in supporting the most promising types of stem cell research, which do not require killing human embryos."
At the East Room gathering, Mr. Bush not only drew attention to patients who had benefited from therapies which did not use embryonic stem cells but also highlighted two recent extremely promising alternative sources.
Carol Franz had multiple myeloma (an aggressive blood cancer). She was treated with her own bone marrow adult stem cells. About three years later, when the myeloma started to come back, she was treated again. She shows no signs of cancer..
Kaitlyne McNamara, 16, was born with spina bifida, a disease that damaged her bladder. None of the treatments her doctor tried worked. Kaitlyne was in danger of kidney failure.
Using a procedure pioneered at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, Kaitlyne's doctors took a piece of her bladder, isolated the healthy stem cells, and used them to grow a new bladder, which was then transplanted into her. There is no risk of rejection because her own body is the source.
Mr. Bush told his audience in a speech carried on cable television about two exciting and ethically unobjectionable alternative sources of stem cells that have been in the news recently.
Led by Dr. Anthony Atala, a few months ago a team of researchers from Wake Forest University and Harvard University, announced what it called amniotic fluid stem cells stem cells found in the fluid that cushions babies in the womb. These stem cells appear to have all the (alleged) benefits of embryonic stem cells and none of the downsides.
"They grow fast, as fast as embryonic stem cells, and they show great pluripotentiality [meaning they can become many kinds of tissues]," said Atala. "But they remain stable for years without forming tumors," he added, "something that embryonic cells are not very good at."
More recently, three papers published in the journals Nature and Cell Stem Cell traced a skin cell's journey back in time. Scientists reprogrammed a mouse's skin cell, coaxing it into reverting back to the status of an embryonic stem cell. By rewinding the cell's developmental clock, scientists (as President Bush noted) "did not cross a moral and ethical line."
Earlier the same day, Mr. Bush issued an Executive Order directing the Department of Health and Human Services and the NIH "to ensure that any human pluripotent stem cell lines produced in ways that do not create, destroy, or harm human embryos" be eligible for federal funding. "The order expands the NIH Embryonic Stem Cell registry to include all types of ethically produced human pluripotent stem cells," the President said. "The order renames the registry calls it this, the Pluripotent Stem Cell Registry so it reflects what stem cells can do, instead of where they come from. The order invites scientists to work with the NIH, so we can add new ethically derived stem cell lines to the list of those eligible for federal funding." (Emphasis added.)
And while there was criticism aplenty of the President's ethically sensitive and scientifically promising decision, there was virtually nothing said in newspaper accounts about a vitally important consideration raised by President Bush.
Mr. Bush patiently explained that if the Senate bill, S5, became law, "it would compel American taxpayers for the first time in our history to support the deliberate destruction of human embryos."
The passage of the Senate bill would be no small step but a leap down the slippery slope.
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|Title Annotation:||George W. Bush|
|Publication:||National Right to Life News|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2007|
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