Thursday, July 27, 2006

International Herald Tribune Editorial - Stem cells: The U.S. and Europe

International Herald Tribune Editorial - Stem cells: The U.S. and Europe
Copyright by The International Herald Tribune
Published: July 26, 2006


Less than a week after President George W. Bush vetoed legislation that would expand federally funded research on embryonic stem cells, the European Union agreed to finance just such research. This was not a case of decadent old Europe callously crossing a moral boundary that the "decent society" of the United States could not tolerate, as Bush would have it. The debate in the EU was every bit as anguished as in the United States, with a group of predominantly Catholic countries raising powerful moral objections. In the end, however, the Europeans accepted what Bush would not, funding for research that involved embryos that would otherwise be destroyed.

Individual countries in the EU, like individual states in the U.S., have been conducting stem cell research with their own money, so decisions about higher-level funding were not about blocking or allowing research. But the prominent debates over the practical value and the morality of the research, are vitally important as science approaches ever nearer to the elemental components of life. Bush chose to announce his veto - his first - with a demagogic charade, surrounding himself with children born of an embryo-adoption program. Such hypocritical politics serves only to caricature those with real moral objections to the destruction of human embryos.

It is precisely because the issue touches some of the deepest tenets of societies that it must be discussed soberly and honestly. Bush did it wrong, vetoing legislation that reflected the product of just such debate. The European Union did it right.

Less than a week after President George W. Bush vetoed legislation that would expand federally funded research on embryonic stem cells, the European Union agreed to finance just such research. This was not a case of decadent old Europe callously crossing a moral boundary that the "decent society" of the United States could not tolerate, as Bush would have it. The debate in the EU was every bit as anguished as in the United States, with a group of predominantly Catholic countries raising powerful moral objections. In the end, however, the Europeans accepted what Bush would not, funding for research that involved embryos that would otherwise be destroyed.

Individual countries in the EU, like individual states in the U.S., have been conducting stem cell research with their own money, so decisions about higher-level funding were not about blocking or allowing research. But the prominent debates over the practical value and the morality of the research, are vitally important as science approaches ever nearer to the elemental components of life. Bush chose to announce his veto - his first - with a demagogic charade, surrounding himself with children born of an embryo-adoption program. Such hypocritical politics serves only to caricature those with real moral objections to the destruction of human embryos.

It is precisely because the issue touches some of the deepest tenets of societies that it must be discussed soberly and honestly. Bush did it wrong, vetoing legislation that reflected the product of just such debate. The European Union did it right.

Less than a week after President George W. Bush vetoed legislation that would expand federally funded research on embryonic stem cells, the European Union agreed to finance just such research. This was not a case of decadent old Europe callously crossing a moral boundary that the "decent society" of the United States could not tolerate, as Bush would have it. The debate in the EU was every bit as anguished as in the United States, with a group of predominantly Catholic countries raising powerful moral objections. In the end, however, the Europeans accepted what Bush would not, funding for research that involved embryos that would otherwise be destroyed.

Individual countries in the EU, like individual states in the U.S., have been conducting stem cell research with their own money, so decisions about higher-level funding were not about blocking or allowing research. But the prominent debates over the practical value and the morality of the research, are vitally important as science approaches ever nearer to the elemental components of life. Bush chose to announce his veto - his first - with a demagogic charade, surrounding himself with children born of an embryo-adoption program. Such hypocritical politics serves only to caricature those with real moral objections to the destruction of human embryos.

It is precisely because the issue touches some of the deepest tenets of societies that it must be discussed soberly and honestly. Bush did it wrong, vetoing legislation that reflected the product of just such debate. The European Union did it right.

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