Thomas H. Murray is the president of the Hastings Center and a member of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, the author of The Worth of a Child, and an editor of The Encyclopedia of Ethical, Legal, and Policy Issues in Biotechnology.
President George W. Bush's August 9, 2001, address
to the nation on embryonic stem cells was an exercise in politico-moral bumper
bowling. He acknowledged the hopes of desperate patients and their families, then
bounced across the alley to embrace the moral arguments of right-to-life allies.
It was fascinating to watch this slow, lurching journey down the lane and to
wonder where the ball would actually strike. The biggest surprise was not that he
offered a compromise on research with embryonic stem cells but rather his claim
that 60 cell lines had already been created and were potential candidates for
research grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Most