Bush’s Stem Cell Position: Still Incoherent

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It’s become commonplace to note the utter incoherence of President Bush’s position on stem cell research, and Clara touches on the subject below, but I think it’s worth repeating over and over again to emphasize that his veto today was cheap opportunism at its worst. The president opposes stem cell research because it involves removing cells from a blastocyst and so destroying a five-day-old embryo. But he has no problem whatsoever with IVF treatment, a process that usually produces far more embryos than are needed and so potentially requires the destruction of some of them (they can’t all be snowflake babies, after all). Indeed, he’s explicitly praised the work of fertility clinics.

Moreover, if Bush really believes that stem cell research involves the “murder” of embryos, as Tony Snow announced yesterday, then simply opposing federal funding for the research isn’t enough. He should, logically, support a ban on all stem cell research. Murder is murder, after all, whether it’s funded by the government or not. But of course Bush has never supported a ban on the privately-funded destruction of embryos. As Michael Kinsley once wrote, “Moral sincerity is not impressive if it depends on willful ignorance and indifference to logic.”

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