For example: Obama was an original sponsor of the bill to overturn President Bush’s policy of funding a very limited amount of EDR, that related to stem-cell lines then already in existence. Obama also cosponsored the misleadingly titled “Human Cloning Ban Act of 2005″ which, if passed, would have protected cloning for bio-medical research, and would have required the destruction of all human embryos created by cloning, subject to federal criminal sanction for failing to do so. (As a member of the Illinois state senate Obama voted against a ban on all human cloning.) Most shocking, Obama voted against a bill in the United States Senate that would have increased funding for the new forms of stem-cell research that do not require the use and destruction of human embryos, despite the extraordinary promise of that research to do what proponents of EDR have said EDR will do. It should be emphasized that Obama opposed funding this humane alternative to EDR even though the bill did not decrease or any way preclude funding for EDR.
The embryo research project on offer will undoubtedly require the intentional creation of human beings on an unimaginably vast scale, solely for their use and destruction in scientific research. The next president will be in a position to give this program either a green light or a red light. There can be objection, then, in the case of EDR as there is about abortion, that the differences between McCain and Obama will not make much practical difference (because of Roe v. Wade, federalism, and the stubbornness of abortion rates). On EDR the next president will, personally and for sure, make life or death decisions.
There are several reasons, beyond the president’s obvious role in appointing judges and in proposing legislation to Congress, why he will have such “stop” and “go” authority. First, the executive branch (most obviously through the work of the National Institutes of Health) is charged with allocating the federal dollars appropriated by Congress for the support of scientific research. It is the president’s decision to allocate funding in a way that creates incentives for research that requires the killing of human beings at the embryonic stage of development, or not. The president can, moreover, establish by executive order conditions for the receipt of federal funds applicable to virtually all research institutions in the country. Second, the president’s veto pen serves as a counterweight to the current enthusiasm for embryo destructive research in Congress. Third, the president sets the policies for government delegations in international fora. President Bush has placed the prestige and influence of the United States in opposition to embryo destructive research at the United Nations and UNESCO, in the face of organized support for such practices. The next president will have to decide whether to continue these policies, or change them.
Finally, the president occupies a unique “bully pulpit.” Except perhaps for the pope, the next American president will have unequaled opportunities to teach the world about the inherent value and dignity of everyone, including those we are sorely tempted to depersonalize in our anxiety to find cures for diabetes, Parkinson’s, and other diseases.
Now, no one who is genuinely “pro-life” — that is, one who believes people begin at conception or, as the case may be, “fertilization” by IVF or cloning — would vote or otherwise support Obama because of his candidate’s position on EDR. To do so would be to formally cooperate in an evil of epic proportions. But anyone who votes for or otherwise supports Obama for non-EDR reasons nonetheless materially cooperates in the horror. For the simple fact is that if one votes for Obama one is voting for to put into office someone who has promised to embark upon an embryo holocaust. The question then is whether that vote (and that support) fair to those who will suffer from EDR? Given the almost unimaginably vast — and potentially unlimited — scope of the proposed destruction, I am confident that anyone who is genuinely “pro-life” would not hesitate to say, “no.” Would anyone at all hesitate to say “no” if the proposal instead were to strap a million, or 400,000, or ten children — or, even, one child of his or her own — to a lab table, there to be dismembered for “science”?
No one would hesitate. Our society would not hesitate for a second, but for its blindness to the humanity of the embryo.
— Gerard V. Bradley is a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame.