Friday, July 13, 2007
IN MY OPINION (Column)
Bush’s Age Discriminatory Stem Cell Research Veto
By TED RUHIG
Your newly-mandated stem cell initiative, which will promote research into producing cells with properties akin to those of human embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos in the process, is most welcomed, but it’s not a substitute for more broadly conceived approaches.
Your latest veto of embryonic stem cell research, Mr. President, is highly unwelcome. The rejected legislation would have allowed federal funding for research to study cells from donated frozen embryos slated for destruction at fertility clinics.
With your denial go the hopes of tens of thousands of families that needed help for a family member. One hopes that Congress, in its wisdom, will find the courage to override this cruel discriminatory veto.
Just because Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University has developed a new technique that could possibly use skin cells to generate new heart, liver or kidney cells is absolutely no reason at all to deny the elderly and others the benefits of full scale embryonic stem cell research funding by the federal government.
The Yamanaka method has yet to be tested on human beings. It is now successful only with experimental rats, and the skin cell approach might not provide the answers to overcoming diseases like Alzheimer’s. Two leading stem cell researchers, interviewed after the veto, said the recent skin cell work was no substitute for embryonic stem cell research.
Most scientists believe that a full scale embryonic stem research program is by far the most promising of all areas of needed aging research. After all, it’s recognized that growing older means wearing out body parts, and body parts replacement is a wonderful option.
The New York Times published several letters from its readers in which they complained about the Bush veto. One letter, from a San Francisco reader, observed: “President Bush, during his speech about his stem cell bill veto said that ‘America is a nation founded on the principle that all human life is sacred.’ I suggest that an asterisk to that comment read ‘except when lies and deceit send military personnel into harms way.’”
Another letter writer, Edd Doerr, president of the Americans for Religious Liberty, complained that “President Bush’s veto of the embryonic stem cell bill is but another example of his disdain for science and his insistence on imposing fundamentalist religious views on everyone.”
As a commentator on the news, I want to cry to high heavens that Bush’s embryonic stem cell research veto is particularly age discriminatory. Most of the individuals that would profit from embryonic stem cell technology are the elderly.
Maybe treating the byproducts of aging is thought to be somehow unnatural. Illness is just assumed to be part of life for the elderly, unlike that of the young. This attitude is just another instance of Bush’s deep bias against the elderly in his policies.
Bush’s budget proposals want to cut nearly $11 billion in funding for the nation’s nursing homes. The administration also proposes to cut the Medicaid budget by nearly $4.5 billion a year. These cuts are directed at the nearly 80 percent of nursing home patients who rely on Medicare and Medicaid to pay for care and services.
Bush uses his fake regard for life as a peg on which to hang his hat as he cuts support for the aging generation. We must obviously not consider what Bush says but what he does with regard to protecting “life.”
With the rising tide of elderly - and elderly voters - the stem-cell debate might just be just a warning sign that politicians sooner or later must devote more time and energy to both the science and politics of aging.
Not only is Bush’s veto of embryonic stem cell research highly age discriminatory, it is also very contrary to the bedrock foundation of our very way of government. This veto could well be regarded as an impeachable act.
President Kennedy once assured the country about his religious views, his Catholicism: “ I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute ... If not, today I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you, until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped apart.”
Thanks, Mr. Bush, for applying your religious standard and standing in the way of hope and progress for American families.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company