Today, the day after President Bush vetoed a bill (for the second time) that would allow for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, a study was released showing that 60 percent of fertility patients would gladly donate their unused embryos for scientific research. What's more, only 22 percent would favor handing over their unused embryos to other fertility patients -- most would prefer to donate the unused embryos for stem cell research or have them destroyed. What this means is that were this bill to escape a presidential veto, there would be more embryos available for research than previously thought, since the legislation applies only to embryos that go unused by fertility patients.
Yet, at Wednesday's veto ceremony, Bush ignored the reality that most of the embryos in question would be destroyed anyway and relied on his "respect for life" rhetoric. "America is a nation founded on the principle that all human life is sacred. And our conscience calls us to pursue the possibilities of science in a manner that respects human dignity and upholds our moral values," he said. Bush added, "Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical. And it is not the only option before us."
Adopting the measure -- not to mention acknowledging that most of these embryos would be destroyed regardless of whether they were donated to science -- is seen by ultraconservatives as a fundamental capitulation. Never mind, of course, the huge potential for improving and saving lives through research.
It's maddening! The good news -- for the 68 percent of Americans who support embryonic stem cell research -- is that proponents have vowed to keep pushing for the bill until they reach a veto-proof majority.