Irvine, CA–President Bush vetoed a measure promoting embryonic stem cell research Wednesday, claiming that “Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical.” Bush went on to trumpet new research which suggests that scientists will one day be able to create pluripotent stem cells (i.e., cells that can develop into multiple cell types) from non-embryonic skin cells, supposedly making the “unethical” destruction of embryonic cells unnecessary.

“There is nothing unethical about destroying embryos in the course of scientific research,” said Dr. Keith Lockitch, resident fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. “An embryo is a potential, not an actual, human being, just as canvas is a potential, not an actual, work of art. It is a primitive cluster of cells, which is no more unethical to destroy than the cells that make up one’s appendix.

“Calling an embryo ‘human life’ is an evasion of the distinction between a mass of undifferentiated cells in a test tube and an actual, living human being. Only the mystical doctrines of religion, which hold that a human being is, not a biological entity with certain natural properties–i.e., an independent organism possessing a rational faculty–but a transcendent soul temporarily trapped in a body, could cloud that distinction.

“Stem cell research has the potential to improve the lives of millions by revolutionizing treatments for a number of afflictions, from Parkinson’s disease to spinal cord injuries to cancer. Scientists should pursue every possible avenue in an effort to realize this promising technology. If one day they successfully create pluripotent cells from non-embryonic cells, we should cheer that as an additional avenue for research–not clamor for them to stop investigating the properties of embryonic cells. To do so would only hamstring scientists and prolong the suffering of actual human beings.

“We should praise embryonic stem cell research for the life-enhancing breakthroughs it promises–and condemn the immoral attempt to return us to the Dark Ages, before science was liberated from the chains of religious dogmatism.”

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