James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Shays Blasts Bush Over Stem Cell Research

The House of Representatives passed a bill authorizing federal funding for stem cell research. Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT), that lover of freedom and Constitutional Scholar who believes in censoring dissent, blasted President Bush for threatening to veto the bill if it passes the Senate.

Bush said, "The use of federal dollars to destroy life is something I simply do not support.”

Shays says, "I think history will be extraordinarily unkind to a veto that will be based on ideology and not on sound ethics or sound science. …This shows that their ideology has gotten them out of the mainstream of the American people."

This debate shows how federalism has disappeared in America. Two statements that miss the point, although Bush comes closer to it. Bush should have said, “The use of federal dollars for medical research is something I simply do not support,” or, more broadly, “The use of federal dollars for purposes not authorized by the Constitution is something I simply do not support.”

Bush couldn’t say that, because he doesn’t believe it. He is, after all, a Republican, not a Libertarian or Constitution Party guy. Bush is willing to fund just about anything, including, of course, the use of federal dollars to destroy Iraqi life.

Still, to his credit, Bush is representing those with ethical qualms about research that destroys human life. Shays and his ilk are clearly wrong, on three counts. First, the Constitution does not authorize the federal government to embark on such scientific research, or to fund private entities doing this research. The powers of the federal government, according to the Constitution, are scarcely more than those required for a confederation of states to have a common trade policy and foreign policy. It does not reach into questions of what kinds of medical research would most benefit the people of the United States.

Second, just like government-funded abortions, such federal funding has the effect of cramming somebody else’s “morality” down the pro-lifer’s throat. This isn’t a question of outlawing stem cell research, it is about forcing people to pay taxes in support of projects they believe to be morally reprehensible. The government has no right to force you to pay for somebody else’s religion, works of art, or newspapers. That impinges on freedom of conscience, because the more one has to pay for somebody else’s moral satisfaction, the less one has to satisfy one’s own. Government scientific research, and especially stem cell research, is wrong on the same principle.

Third, a related point. What Congress chooses to fund, means the rest of us have less ability to fund our own projects. If taxes were low, and medicine and science were unregulated, everyone would have the freedom to advance their own causes. If the people want more cancer research and less AIDS research, they will get it. If they want research on stem cells and state laws permit it, they will get it. We do not need government making choices of what to subsidize and promote; we are perfectly capable of doing that ourselves.

The pro-lifers are right, even if we may disagree on their reasons. Simply put, the people should not be forced to subsidize this.

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