The Births of a Nation

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President Bush was disingenuous, to say the least, in inviting babies born from embryos fertilized in vitro to the White House to watch him veto the bill that would have permitted some federal funding of such research. Given the present state of in vitro fertilization, one such embryo is not created alone but in the company of many others. The many embryos are fertilized and cultivated by the reproductive endocrinologist so she may select one or several for implantation. There are many more of them than can realistically be implanted in women’s uteri to germinate and develop into human beings.

A human being does not begin when a human egg is fertilized. Such a fertilized egg may have the potential of becoming a human being, but it is no more a human being than a seed is a plant. Both need the proper environment to achieve their potential – a human embryo must find a fertile uterus, a seed needs fertile soil. Otherwise they are useless, superfluous, destined for the dustbin.

Bush’s veto does not prevent all embryonic stem cell research, only federally funded research. However, as the National Institutes of Health finance much if not most scientific research, that control is extensive. One more example of government’s reach expanding more and more invasively throughout the economy, beyond its original well-intentioned, small- scale intervention. He who pays the piper calls the tune.

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