Proponents of stem-cell research believe that it may be the secret to curing infertility, genetic imperfection and neurological degeneration, and on the premise of this supposition, have lobbied vigorously to prevent legislation that would protect embryos from harvest and use in research, espousing the idea that:
"Criminalizing human reproductive cloning in the United States will only make it less safe and more costly for these infertile couples. They will be forced to travel outside the United States to pursue their dream of creating a family. After all, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), infertility is a disability and reproduction is a major life activity for the purposes of the ADA (Bragdon v. Abbott, 118 S.Ct 2196; 1998). In light of this, it is the right of each and every American citizen to bear a child." (Speeches, 21)
In spite of this, there were very few legislative efforts which successfully established protection for the embryos that could be harvested for the creation of stem-cell lines during the previous decade. President Bush's withdrawal of the possibility of future funding for such processes was in many ways a strictly Christian political initiative, designed with the underlying imperative in protecting the unborn child from the dangers of technological amorality. In terms of outright banishment, "only a minority of states have enacted laws restricting experimentation on the unborn; in some of these, the relevant restrictions are designed to protect fetuses destined for abortion and do not apply to embryos." (Kaveny, 136) But public policy would have the effect under the Bush administration of driving both funding priorities and the scientific culture according to Christian value system, rendering a stultifying effect to medical progress while improving Bush's political standing with his Christian core of voters.
President Bush's support of limiting parameters around the expansion of stem-cell research was ideologically concurrent with the prevailing views of many of his supporters in the public, in Washington, D.C. And in the lobbyist communities that had rallied around him. Thus, the nation's policy during his tenure would take on a decidedly protectionist approach to the implementation of new and unproved medical technology, directly in line with the pervasive revival of religious observation and moralized legislative desire in the U.S.
This impetus would also have a severely damaging effect on the distribution of public funding as well, with the Bush administration applying a religious prejudice to the way that public money would be distributed to outreach groups, public agencies and community outlets. The faith based initiative had been a key promise from the Bush administration to its supporters during the 2000 election in particular. Underwritten to the principles of the faith based initiative was the prioritization of funding for religious institutions with public money, with a number of conditions attached. The most troubling of these would be revealed in a court victory for the Bush Administration in 2005, which both demonstrated the sense of discrimination cited by many groups against this use of public money, and which simultaneously reaffirmed a political and judicial structure that had aligned with Bush's religious impositions. To the point, "Bush's big victory came Sept. 30 in New York, where a federal judge threw out most elements of a religious discrimination lawsuit against the Salvation Army. Eighteen employees claimed they were fired or demoted because they refused to pledge support to the Salvation Army's mission of 'proclaiming Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, disclose what church they attended or name gay co-workers." (Cooperman, 1) This demonstrates that extremely dogmatic potential of the faith based initiative, which essentially awards such agencies while simultaneously strengthening the right of said agencies to hire and fire according to the religious doctrines of would-be employees. This points to a mounting and repetitive theme of religious discrimination by the Bush Administration.
The degree to which Bush would base his policies and initiatives on his own doctrines of Christian faith would be both irrational and unconstitutional. Certainly, this is evidenced by the manner in which Bush selected targets of his initiatives, with issues such as gay marriage and stem cell research demonstrating an outright attack on those who could be said not to share these Christian values. And in the case of faith-based initiatives, we can see that the administration aggressively pronounced its favoritism for Christian groups, making these a primary recipient of public funding during the Bush Administration. In both regards, the administration can be said to have clearly exploited the highest office in the land at least in part as a way to extend what Bush's personally belief system says is the one true faith. And especially in the regard that the current Obama administration appears to be intent on rolling back and reversing all of these initiatives, we will come increasingly to reflect on the religious imperatives of the Bush Administration as archaic in their time and ever more irrelevant with the push of cultural progress. The regression which this had represented in the Bush Administration will surely be reinforced in the years to come, as such policies as those relating to the restriction of gay marriage, the banning of funding for stem cell research and the prejudicial public funding of religious-based public groups ultimately are reversed and left to memory as relics of a misguided time in American history.
Brannigan, Michael C. Ethical Issues in Human Cloning: Cross-Disciplinary
Perspectives. New York; Seven Bridges Press, 2001.
Brownback, Sam. James Greenwood. Symposium. Insight on the News.
Vol. 17, Issue
40, pg 40, October 29, 2001.
Brunker, Michael. Bush defends call for gay marriage ban. MSNBC, 2004. Online at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4360783/
Condic, Maureen L. Stem Cells and False Hopes. First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public
Life, pg. 21, Sept. 2002.
Cooperman, Alan. Bush's Faith Plan Faces Judgment. The Washington Post, 2005.