Ralph De La Cruz: 'The world isn't waiting for our politicians to get it'
Sunday, May 29, 2005
By Ralph De La Cruz, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
There are times when the words of someone who's supposed to be a leader make you say: wait. Did he just say what I think he said?
I've had a lot of those moments with George W. Bush. Gone straight through incredulous, nonplussed and puzzled.
I hit flabbergasted Tuesday while hearing the president speak about bioethics on the day the House of Representatives voted to expand stem cell research by allowing researchers access to 400,000 frozen embryos that had been abandoned after in vitro fertilization. This research could lead to cures for wide-ranging medical problems.
Bush promised he'd veto the bill if it passes the Senate.
"There is no such thing as a spare embryo," he said to a small group of people who had adopted frozen embryos.
I beg to differ.
The day in February when Maria, then two months pregnant, began bleeding and had her miscarriage, she called me into the bathroom in an attempt to figure out what was happening.
Six-year-old Sofia followed me in. And not wanting her to see anything, Maria flushed the toilet.
I'm sorry, Mr. President. What Maria flushed down the toilet was not the same as Sofia and Alexander, and should not have the same legal protections.
I realized that day the promise of life is NOT the same thing as life. To continue to say otherwise is disgraceful.
All the photo ops and rhetoric aside, stem cell research doesn't have anything to do with abortion. What we're talking about are cells. Almost by definition, stem cell research requires an early-stage embryo. You see, the embryo has to be manipulated before it has developed into anything even remotely approaching a fetus.
So when the president stands up and poses for photos with cute babies and talks about how they were once embryos, he's playing games with your hearts and minds.
Other Republicans certainly seem to get it.
"Who can say that prolonging a life is not pro-life?" asked Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, who is both a Republican and self-proclaimed pro-lifer. She voted for the House bill.
Bush's position is akin to having an Amish president in the early 1900s who wouldn't allow airplane flight research because it went against his religious beliefs. Or a Quaker president in the 1940s who wouldn't confront Hitler because he didn't believe in war.
It's simply outrageous.
People used to believe it was immoral to donate your organs or have transplants. Can you imagine if a president had blocked those advancements? Some folks still believe blood transfusions are wrong. Come to think of it, I remember when the frozen embryos religious conservatives now covet were once considered unnatural mutations. Now they're sacred.
Could it be only 45 years ago when people were concerned John F. Kennedy's Catholicism would be a political liability?
Now, we have a president who is bent knee to Christian fundamentalism and has the spiritual arrogance to suggest he's saving the rest of us from ourselves.
It'd be side-splitting political theater if it wasn't so tragic.
And perhaps the wildest thing is that the poli-tragi-comedy in Washington really doesn't much matter.
Because the rest of the world isn't waiting for our politicians to get it. They're leaving us behind. Scientists in South Korea have already taken the lead by successfully cloning human stem cells.
Not surprisingly, there's now concern many of America's top scientists will justifiably follow the money and opportunities to places such as England, China and Korea.
Who can blame them when we have folks such as Dave Weldon, R-Fla., on Capitol Hill.
When discussing the stem cell bill and the president's expected veto, Weldon told The Associated Press, "I don't know why the Senate would even vote on this."
Since he apparently can't figure it out, let me help the congressman from Melbourne:
Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, juvenile diabetes, spinal-cord injuries, job creation, national economic well-being ...
Ralph De La Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2005, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Reprinted from South Florida Sun-Sentinel: