As expected, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which authorizes funding on unused or frozen embryos in fertility clinics, passed in the House on June 7. But not only was it short of the votes it needed to override an expected presidential veto, it actually had six fewer votes than it did when the House voted on it in the last Congress. "Momentum is fading for proponents of embryonic stem-cell research," one pro-life House aide proclaimed. And how could it not be? Even as the House was focusing narrowly on embryo destruction, headlines trumpeted: "New Stem Cell Breakthrough Avoids Destroying Human Embryos"; "Biologists Make Skin Cells Work Like Stem Cells"; "Stem-Cell Advance May Skirt Ethical Debate."
It will take some time for these new facts to sink in -- to fight against the lie that scientific hope and success is only with the embryo-destructive research. In the same edition of The Washington Post in which we read "Scientists Use Skin To Create Stem Cells" and "Discovery Could Recast Debate," readers were also subjected to a flattering profile of cloning advocate Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat. DeGette is a secular saint for her tunnel-vision advocacy of embryonic-stem-cell research. Glaringly missing from the piece was any acknowledgment that George W. Bush, who would go on to veto the bill that funds embryo-destroying bill, is also for stem-cell research -- just not the one and only kind she wants.
If you are against funding one type of stem cell research -- the embryo-destroying kind -- that does not mean you are against stem-cell research. On the contrary, you're for the kind that actually works -- and that also happens to be free of the ethical hang-ups involved in the embryonic kind. What's to lose?
Embryonic stem-cell research is perfectly legal in the United States; all the debates have been over the government funding of it. With no federal ban on cloning, some states have provided funding for it under the guise of a "ban," setting up the distinction between reproductive cloning (creating an embryo to ultimately raise as a child) and research or therapeutic cloning (creating an embryo to use for medical purposes). In the end, though, the process is the same; in therapeutic cloning, you are cloning to kill.