Aug 13, 2001
President Bush finally announced his much-ballyhooed decision concerning the use of Federal funds for stem cell research. In a television address on August 9, Bush said he will allow Federal money to be used for research using what he claimed were 60 already existing lines of embryonic stem cells derived from embryos that were already “dead,” and for research using any adult stem cell lines. But he banned the use of Federal funds for research using any new embryonic stem cell lines that might be developed from embryos that were still “alive” as of the day of his speech.
The build up to Bush’s speech was designed to portray him as a thoughtful president trying to promote and protect the best interests of all the people. His decision was designed to be viewed as a compromise between two opposed camps: seriously ill people, medical researchers and other scientists on the one hand; Catholic and fundamentalist religious leaders on the other.
In fact, the main aim of the policy Bush announced is to subsidize stem cell research that the biomedical and pharmaceutical companies hope will result in therapies and cures for diseases ranging from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease to some forms of cancer to paralysis resulting from spinal cord injuries. If this government-subsidized research is successful, these companies stand to make many billions marketing therapies and cures without having to pay for the research – just as they regularly do with government-funded research.
But Bush had a problem. He had to continue these subsidies while not angering his religious supporters. So while pretending to be a president responding to the moral concerns of the religious right wing, in fact Bush responded to the only moral value of any importance to his or any other administration: their right to maximize their profits with the assistance of government subsidies; their right to continue developing – with the government’s help – a healthcare industry that will give anyone only the medical care he or she can afford –at the exorbitant prices the industry wants to charge!