The next year, announcing his support for banning all human cloning (including cloning embryos to kill them for their stem cells), Bush crystallized the issue: "Research cloning would contradict the most fundamental principle of medical ethics: that no human life should be exploited for the benefit of another."
Bush was echoing a principle enunciated by the U.S. judges who tried Nazi doctors at Nuremburg after World War II.
In "The Nazi Doctors -- Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide," author Robert J. Lifton chronicled how Hitler seduced physicians into overseeing mass murder. It started when Hitler directed his own doctor, Karl Brandt, to make certain a single deformed infant was "euthanized." From there, it escalated to Dr. Josef Mengele monitoring the arriving trains at Auschwitz to choose which prisoners to send directly to the gas chambers, which to retain as workers, and which to send to his laboratory for experimentation and dissection.
"It seemed easier -- perhaps more 'natural' and at least less 'unnatural' -- to begin with the very young: first, newborns; then, children up to 3 and 4; then, older ones," wrote Lifton, summarizing Germany's initial steps toward medicalized killing.
At Nuremburg, the judges who sentenced Brandt and other Nazi doctors to death issued a code of principles they believed ought to govern research on human subjects. "The experiment should be so conducted as to avoid all unnecessary physical and mental suffering and injury," they wrote. "No experiment should be conducted where there is a priori reason to believe that death or disabling injury will occur ..."
When researchers take a human embryo from an in vitro fertilization clinic to extract its stem cells, their intention is to kill it.
The intention of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which Frist supports and will bring to a vote in the Senate, is to take money from working Americans and give it to researchers who, by Frist's own definition, will take human life.
It not only violates the Nuremburg Code, it forces taxpayers to pay for the violation.
Vetoing this bill would be Bush's finest hour. Before sending it to him, Frist ought to consider why we condemned Nazi doctors and reconsider his position -- again.
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