Thursday, July 20, 2006

Arlen Specter, Bill Frist, Orrin Hatch, Nancy Reagan...what do all these people have in common?

Well, yes, they're Republicans. But what else? OK, yes, very prominent Republicans. But what else?

They all support embryonic stem cell research and are very unhappy with President Bush's decision yesterday to wield his veto pen for the first time since taking office in January 2001. In doing so, Bush goes against the wishes of more than two-thirds of Americans who support embryonic stem cell research and is also at odds with some of the most conservative and pro-life members of his own party.

The Senate bill's principal sponsor, Sen. Arlen Specter, the chair of the powerful Judiciary Committee, recently survived a brush with cancer. Frist, the powerful pro-life Senate Majority Leader and a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2008, is a physician who argued that the president's policy was too restictive. Hatch, ultra-conservative Mormon pro-life senator from Utah, said that "by using these embryos for medical research we are in fact promoting life...aiding the living...which is one of the most pro-life positions you can take." And Reagan, the widow of former President Ronald Reagan, is one of the fiercest advocates of increased stem cell research use and believes that increased research will one day find a cure for Alzheimer's, which killed her husband.

With the exception of Specter, these are not moderate Republicans. From from it. But in this split from many leaders in his own party, Bush has demonstrated how completely out of touch with public opinion he really is and his inclination to pander to the Religious Right at all times.

Most scientists and researchers believe that embryonic stem cells hold potential cures for spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, heart dis,ease and much more. Over 100 million Americans currently suffer from diseases that may eventually be treated more effectively or even cured with embryonic stem cell therapy. Some researchers regard this as the greatest potential for curing diseases or mitigating human suffering since antibiotics were discovered. In fact, many pro-lifers even believe that the moral thing to do is to save existing life.

Stem cells have so much potential to save lives. For anyone who has ever watched a loved one die from one of these horrible diseases, this veto is like a stab to the heart. Sure, Bush tugged on the heartstrings by trotting out dozens of children who were "adopted" as frozen embryos, but what about existing human lives that are being destroyed by the increased delay in arriving at cures? The veto was a devasting setback to the millions of Americans who so desperately wait for a cure.

Posted by Amanda Brice :: 9:04 AM :: 12 comments

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