July 25, 2006

A Plea for Consistency

So . . . Proving once again that he is either a hypocrite or an idiot, Dubya finally vetoed his first bill the other day, essentially halting any hopes of embryonic stem cell research in the United States for the near future. The veto prompted one of the more inspired segments I've seen from The Daily Show, which I've long enjoyed. Check it out.

The president's decision in conjunction with the Jon Stewart clip has brought a line of thought to the front of my mind that has been slowly building for quite some time. However, before I get to that, here is (in a nutshell) why I (still) think our president is a total moron.

In-vitro fertilization (IVF) as practiced in fertility clinics is a way for couples to have children who would not otherwise be able to. The process produces around 16 surplus embryos which are then frozen in storage. As of a few years ago there were an estimated 400,000 of these frozen embryos in existence. The vast majority of them will eventually be discarded unless they are used for research which has the potential to save lives.

The embryos already exist. The embryos are going to be destroyed. All . . . all . . . Bush has done is to make it impossible for them to be used for any constructive purpose whatsoever. Not only that, but he and his people are throwing around terms like "murder" (which has sense been downgraded to mere "taking of human life"), implying that his veto has basically put a stop to the destruction of the embryos. Right.

Incidentally, the only argument against embryonic stem cell research that I have heard thus far which doesn't simply disintegrate under its own weight is some variation on a lack of scientific proof or lack of results in the field. Well, gee, could that possibly be because people like our Special Olympics president keep blocking the research? Results don't just appear like magic if you wait long enough, y'know.

Additionally, Tony Snow, speaking for the president, said "The president is not going to get on the slippery slope of taking something living and making it dead . . ." Look, if a frozen amalgamation of 4-10 cells counts as something living, then I'm pretty sure the president has violated his own morality if he's ever used a condom. A full load of sperm certainly has more potential to become "life" than any those embryos do right now. (If you're the visual type, pardon the mental image.)

Actually, the question of whether Bush has violated his own moral system is answered regardless. He has, does, and is . . . every single day for the past three years and four months. And this brings me to my real point. The stem cell debate is completely tangential, it was just bothering me. I have not yet fully made up my mind about when I think life begins, but I am very much pro-life. It's one of the few issues I really care about, politically, because it's the only one that really seems to matter on an eternal scale.

What's really bugging me is this: Being pro-life, the way I see pro-life, alienates me from both major political parties. Democrats are largely "pro-choice," so that's not acceptable. (I always thought it was really cute the way they had to call themselves "pro-choice" in opposition of "pro-life" cuz they couldn't very well call themselves "anti-life" or "pro-death.") But Republicans, conservatives, and most of the Christians I know who are supposedly so very "pro-life" when it comes to abortion seem to be very "anti-life" in almost every other way. They strongly support capital punishment. They're positively religious (often literally) about going to war.

Does being pro-life have any meaning whatsoever if you're only pro some life? "That is the issue before us," the president says of stem cell research, "and that is whether or not we use tax payer's money to destroy life." In this case, he has decided no. In the case of Iraq, yes. So, he only holds his staunchly pro-life views with regards to frozen cell clumps, not actual living, breathing people. Why?

To see the president stand up and say, "I think it's important to promote a culture of life. I think a hospitable society is a society where every being counts and every person matters." And then to hear him casually toss off an estimate of 30,000 Iraqi citizens killed in a war he started like he's calculating the number of jelly beans in a jar . . . I just have to stand up and shriek "Hypocrite!"

Even if Bush were right about stem cell research, he's still wrong. But he doesn't even have that right. He's just all wrong. As of this moment, "pro-life" has no significant meaning as an expression of actual human values. And I don't think that's the way it ought to be.

Posted by Jared at July 25, 2006 10:53 PM | TrackBack