19 July 2006


For five and a half years, Bush didn't veto a single bill.  Not one.  Not even a spending bill was sent back to Congress (some fiscal conservative, huh).  But now he's finally used his first veto.  What was so important to Bush that he'd break his Cal-Ripken-like no-veto streak?  He sent back a bill that would relax restrictions on federal funding for stem-cell research.

Actually, as it happens, I agree with the veto itself.  Any restriction on federal funding is good if you ask me.  But, as is usual when Bush happens to do the right thing, his reasoning is wrongheaded:  "This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others.  It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect."  So he regards using human cells that have no more personhood than protists to make medical advancements and better the lives of real people as unacceptable.  Would he also support a murder charge for any woman who naturally flushes out a fertilized egg?  Maybe he should create a new federal department to inspect every woman's menses.  Or he could assign the duty to the Department of the Interior.

Anyway, even though Bush's reasoning is ridiculous, I can't fault him for the veto itself, though I don't see the issue as a very important one.  Michael Tanner's excellent article in the San Francisco Chronicle makes this point better than I could.  He writes, "Despite the impression left by some of its supporters, stem-cell research is not banned.  In fact, not only is it legal, it is thriving in the private sector. . . . If the government were to simply get out of the stem-cell research business and let the private sector continue its good work, medical science would do just fine."  Damn straight.


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