A couple of weeks ago, I discussed the looming showdown between the president and Congressional Republicans over a bill that would authorize more federal funding for stem cell research. I questioned why die-hard opponents of stem cell research don't also oppose invitro fertilization, a process that routinely results in the disposal of extra embryos.
Well, it turns out that they do, and as William Saletan notes in Slate, the next clash in the abortion debate will take place over invitro fertilization:
Four years ago, when Bush first discussed stem-cell research, he remarked sympathetically that IVF "helps so many couples conceive children" and that some leftover embryos were "donated to science." He referred three times not to the embryo's "life" but to its "potential" for life. "Many people are finding that the more they know about stem cell research, the less certain they are about the right ethical and moral conclusions," he said.
Since then, Bush's language has hardened. Last week, he called IVF embryos "real human lives" just like "the lives of those with diseases that might find cures" through stem-cell research. Embryos were no longer being "donated to science" (pro-lifers hate the term "donate" since it implies generosity and property rights); according to the president, their parents had chosen to "turn them over for research that destroys them." Bush implicitly contrasted these parents with those who chose the "life-affirming alternative" of embryo adoption. On the House floor, Majority Leader Tom DeLay called embryonic stem-cell research "the dismemberment of living, distinct human beings." Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., called it "the slaughter of human life."
It's hard to see how people who think this way can go on tolerating the surplus creation, freezing, and disposal of millions of IVF embryos. If you think they'll leave it to you because you're the parent, you don't understand pro-lifers. They believe what DeLay and other House Republicans said last week: Embryos belong to "the human family." It takes more than you and your spouse to decide your embryo's fate. It takes a village.
You think politics in this country is ugly now? Just wait until the religious right starts telling childless couples they are actually killing babies by trying to have one. And I thought Bush was a uniter, not a divider.