Veto a wasted chance to unite the nation

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ironton Tribune Editorial Board

After five-and-a-half years in the White House, President Bush did something he had not done since his first day in office: He vetoed a bill.

The bill, HR 810, would have allowed couples who have had embryos frozen for fertility treatments to donate them to researchers rather than let them be destroyed.

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The bill — which also would have increased federal funding of research — easily made its way through the House of Representatives last May, passing 238-194, and through the Senate — 63-37— on Tuesday.

But it couldn’t get by Bush.

The president criticized the bill by saying: “This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others.”

Bush’s justification for the veto seems to defy logic and is a thinly veiled attempt to bring the abortion issue into scientific research — research that has the promise of developing cures for many afflictions, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, spinal cord injuries, cancer, juvenile diabetes, Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis and others.

The embryonic stem cells that would be used for research would come from fertility clinics that no longer need them and are preparing them to be destroyed. Regardless of a Bush veto, these embryos are going to be destroyed — with or without research being done on them. Why not take these embryos and use them to potentially save lives?

For Bush to use the only veto in his five-and-a-half years in the White House for this bill is a selfish move and a wasted opportunity to bring the nation closer together on an issue that has strong support from both Republicans and Democrats.

In fact, House Republicans yesterday attempted to override Bush’s veto of the legislation, but fell just short of the 2/3 majority needed. Now the bill must go back to committee.

For anyone who has ever known a family member or friend suffering from these debilitating diseases, it’s difficult to understand how it can be dismissed so easily.

Instead of playing politics and listening to the few wealthy lobbyists in his base, the president should start listening to the majority of Americans.

If Congress can do it, so can the president.