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Posted on November 18, 2010 at 12:33 PM

Fascinated by Bush’s moral reasoning when it came to his stem cell decision of August 9th, 2001, Jonathan Moreno delves even deeper into the passages of the former president’s autobiography to explore the faulty logic of his position regarding embryonic stem cell research.

In his Science Progress column, Moreno outlines Bush’s concerns about moral complicity and how his “splitting the difference”, in allowing research on only existing stem cell lines, to his mind anyway, avoided that moral problem of destroying embryos. But as Moreno rightly points out, Bush (and Kass’) solution ignored the reality of the prior destruction of embryos to create those lines in the first place, a moral responsibility that Bush conveniently ignored as though it was a simple question of “not on my watch”.

Bush’s self-congratulatory tone and his (inappropriate) taking of responsibility for the scientific advances for iPS cells, as Moreno notes, is almost laughable, given that anyone following the stem cell research community during the eight years of the Bush presidency knows that research nearly ground to a halt except in places like New York and California where states funded the research (and of course abroad where researchers fled to be able to conduct their research with embryos without restriction). This kind of revisionism so soon after one’s presidency is sad, but not all that surprising.

Moreno’s most interesting revelation is Bush’s comment regarding the Dickey-Wicker amendment, under much scrutiny of late:
“[Bush] does not say he had any doubt that under the Dickey amendment NIH could support funding on at least some embryonic stem cell lines. One hopes the D.C. Circuit Court borrows a copy of Decision Points as they deliberate or, better yet, just Xeroxes (read: clones) of that chapter.”

Excellent idea, indeed.

Summer McGee, PhD

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