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Bush Attempts to Impose Religious Ideology with Stem Cell Veto, Humanists Say

June 20, 2007

 

Today, for only the third time in his presidency, George W. Bush has used his presidential veto. And today marks the second time he's used it to inhibit the advance of medicine. The bill, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, would have expanded federal funding for stem cell research -- a field that most scientists recognize as holding great promise for breakthrough treatments for devastating diseases, such as diabetes and Parkinson's disease.

"Bush's action today is a slap in the face of the millions of Americans whose lives might greatly benefit from such research," said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. "It is startling that the President would rather see these unused embryos discarded than to be used to advance medical research. Since these embryos would be destroyed whether or not used in stem cell research, why not use them to help find cures for ailments like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson's that affect millions of people?"

Bush has made it clear that his position against stem cell research is greatly influenced by his religious faith - a position that many do not share. "Bush is clearly seeking to impose a narrow religious ideology, to the detriment of millions suffering from debilitating or life-threatening illness, and against the wishes of the vast majority of Americans," continued Speckhardt. "With this veto, the President has placed greater value on small clusters of cells than on fully-formed adults."

"Bush's position isn't just an attempt to impose a conservatively religious ideology that is contrary to the will of the people and the spirit of separation of church and state," said Fred Edwords, communications director of the American Humanist Association. "His doctrine is self-contradictory. If embryos are people, then he should be trying to outlaw anybody doing stem cell research, not just stop government funding of it: a passive response is inappropriate if he really believes people are being killed. Moreover, by his logic, he should never have approved the stem cell research he did allow. It's time to call him out on his inconsistency."

As stated in an AHA resolution last year, "The American Humanist Association supports research employing embryonic stem cells and federal funding for such research commensurate with its potential to advance scientific knowledge and lead to the development of novel therapies. Further, we encourage the development of ethical guidelines for such applications through the use of reason rather than religious or political doctrine."

AHA board member Steven Goldberg, a key crafter of the related resolution, added "Humanists value human life, and believe that every person has inherent worth and is entitled to dignity and compassion. Humanists do not see a moral equivalence between a cluster of unformed cells and living, breathing human beings. It is therefore our obligation to support research that could have a positive impact on the lives of millions around the world. Thus, Humanists deplore efforts to inhibit this medical research on purely religious grounds."

"Bush's executive branch diversions of tax payer dollars to create stem cells without destroying human embryos only reinforces the point that science doesn't need the guiding hand of a religiously motivated politician," said Speckhardt. "We should let scientists decide where the work is most needed."

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The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) is the oldest and largest Humanist organization in the nation. The AHA is dedicated to ensuring a voice for those with a positive outlook, based on reason and experience, which embraces all of humanity.

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