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Jack Sisson's Life Ethics Blog

We must find new ways through many ethical issues, especially regarding bioethics, medical ethics, and criminal justice. Jack Sisson's 'Life Ethics' blog focuses on numerous areas of concern, including the philosophical and ethical dilemmas surrounding stem-cell research, abortion, medical research, and health care.

I like to believe that I'm a tolerant individual. I believe I can accept that people might have different opinions from me and I still respect them, in spite of our differences. I honestly believe that I could have a spirited political discussion with just about anyone I know and walk away from it still friends. So what is it about our president then, that makes even my nose hairs curl in disbelief and my "Come Closer So I Can Slap You" tee shirt rattle the dresser drawer in a desperate plea to be released?

Let's recap for a minute:
  • Violence in Iraq is as bad as ever with no sign of abating
  • The entire Middle East teeters on the brink of war
  • North Korea is playing with nuclear missiles
  • The oil companies are poised to reap another round of record profits
  • The price of one gallon of gas is roughly the same as a McDonald's combo meal, or a full tank of gas in a SUV in Caracas, Venezuela, or meals for an entire day if you follow the diet on this University of Alberta site
  • We're bracing for another extreme hurricane season while much of the Gulf coast is still recovering from Katrina
  • The national minimum wage, $5.15, hasn't been increased since 1997; hat $5.15 is worth about $4.00 today
  • A minimum wage worker who earns $10,700 annually is earning $6,000 less than the poverty level for a family of three
Rather than continue with this list, which I'm sure I could do for a few hours, I'll stop now and reflect on the fact that our president used the only veto of his presidency to deny federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. At the same time he's determined to save all of those microscopic cells, W is avoiding the thousands of children already born with life threatening conditions that the results of stem-cell research might eventually cure. He is also avoiding the majority of Americans who've made it clear that they support funding such research.

Instead, W continues to court the narrow bloc of Christian evangelical voters who make up his most conservative base. How easy it is to placate one group when you don't have to look into the eyes of those you are sacrificing. Why must those who are already living be given short shrift while "the cells possibly forming persons to be" are revered as sacred? Do we lose that sacredness of life once we are born? Is it our lot to endlessly sacrifice the living to make way for the might-bes?

Was this really THAT important, Mr. President? Or was it just another Terri Schiavo moment, similar to the late-night, heroic flight back to Washington for a dramatic bill signing? You'll understand my suspicion, I'm sure. After all, the intended audience was exactly the same.

On November 4, 2002, The Consortium published this article, which serves as an incomplete timeline of President Bush's veracity, or lack thereof. The author was primarily questioning the "free pass" the press had given Bush on many questionable statements and/or incidents. Some examples:
Bush tried to scare the American people with notions that Iraqi drone aircraft might fly to the United States despite their range of only a few hundred miles
Bush has never given convincing or comprehensive answers to questions about how he slipped into and held onto a cherished Guard spot, allowing him to avoid service in Vietnam
In 1999, Bush tried to block the Democratic initiative in the Texas Legislature to expand the CHIP program to children of parents earning up to twice the federal poverty level. After losing the legislative battle, Bush turned around and claimed credit for the CHIP expansion and his success in working with Democrats.
Bush tried to make an issue out of President Clinton’s practice of allowing his friends and supporters to sleep over at the White House. Bush didn't mention that since he had taken office as Texas governor in 1995, he had 203 guests stay over at the Governor’s Mansion in Austin, Texas.
Bush said the Clinton-Gore administration “took 40 million acres of land out of circulation without consulting local officials. I just cited an example of the administration just unilaterally acting without any input.” Bush was referring to a Clinton-Gore proposal to protect 40 million acres of roadless areas in national forests from more road building and logging. As the Sierra Club noted in a press release, Bush’s statement was false.
But enough excerpts. Read the whole article. Then think of all the items you could add from the period between 2002 and now.

Here are a scattering of responses to President Bush's veto of the stem-cell research bill. First, some letters to the editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Next, The Washington Post quotes Representative Diana DeGette (D-Colo), co-sponsor of HR810, who said "cold, calculated, cynical political gain" motivated Bush to pen the first veto of his presidency. DeGette also said, "The veto has backfired already, putting the spotlight on his stubborn resistance to facts." (For more on Bush's resistance to and avoidance of facts, see today's post entitled "Where's the Outrage?")

In Canada, The Toronto Star published this letter, while across the Atlantic, Guardian Unlimited prints Sideny Blumenthal's thoughtful commentary, complete with additional comments by readers (always interesting to see how folks in England view our political sagas). In USA Today, Richard Benedetto posits that the stem-cell issue won't be a "make it or break it" issue in the fall elections, but Newsweek's Eleanor Clift begs to differ.

And so it goes...from Australia to China, everybody's got an opinion. What's yours?

Here is a shorthand look at HR810, the stem-cell research bill vetoed by President Bush on Tuesday, July 18th, a date that should go down in infamy as a telling example of a misguided president's priorities. This is the same president who made much to-do about flying back to Washington to sign a bill enabling government intrusion into what should have been a family's private, life-and-death decision.

He is also the same president who espouses a "culture of life" while causing the deaths of 2560 American military personnel by declaring war on Iraq. If someone can explain this man's morals, I'd sure like to hear it.

The Washington Post published a timeline of the national debate on stem-cell research. The timeline doesn't exclusively follow embryonic stem cells, although they are the cells around which the debate centers because using them destroys the embryo.

Brain Pills
Roe v. Wade
Stem Cells
Stem Cell Fight!
Bearing Right
Moral Monkey?
Dave's site
Stem Stall
Bush the hypocrite

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