Now that George W. Bush, aided by Congressional Republicans and the Religious Right, has ruined immediate hope of meaningful progress on stem cell research, it's time for Democrats to tell them to put up or shut up on their strident claims that a child is born almost the minute two people even discuss conception.
One of the primary arguments against federal funding of stem cell research was the alleged viability of the 400,000 frozen embryos in storage at fertility clinics throughout the country.
Sam Brownback (R-KS), one of the Senate's major stem cell opponents, even went through the theater of holding a press conference showcasing children whose parents adopted them as frozen embryos from fertility clinics --the so-called "snowflake babies."
"What we're talking about in this debate is the use of embryos, young humans, as raw materials, raw material in research, raw material to exploit," said Brownback.
Bush himself made many similar statements and his spokesman, Tony Snow, even said that Bush considers it murder to conduct stem cell research.
"What the President has said is that he doesn't want human life destroyed. Now, you may consider that insignificant, but the President has said.... [he] believes strongly that for the purpose of research it's inappropriate for the federal government to finance something that many people consider murder; he's one of them," said Snow. "The simple answer is he thinks murder is wrong. The President is not going to get on the slippery slope of taking something that is living and making it dead for the purpose of research."
Senate and House Democratic leaders Harry Reid (D-NV) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) need to call these guys on their pious claims and immediately propose legislation that would fund an adoption program for all 400,000 of the frozen embryos stored throughout America. The first people who should step up to the plate and adopt one of these microscopic entities are the 37 Senators who voted against the stem cell research bill on Tuesday and the 193 members of the House who refused to override Bush's veto of the bill yesterday. Heck, the Bush family alone could probably adopt a couple hundred of them.
That leaves only about 399,500 of the little cells to find homes for, which is where Bush can start a faith-based, Christian program and enlist the help of James Dobson, at the ultraconservative Focus on the Family, who called the stem cell bill "barbarous legislation" and lauded the veto, calling Bush "a man of his word and a champion for the pre-born."
With the 1.5 million listeners they claim for their daily radio broadcast and the combined circulation of about 2.3 million subscribers for their magazines, Focus on the Family alone should be able to provide cozy little Petri dishes for the remaining cells by the end of July.
But if, by any chance, they turn out to be a bunch of hypocrites who don't really see these as living beings or who just don't give a damn enough to help them, Bush can always hit up those God-fearing -- and science-fearing -- people at the Family Research Council (FRC).
"Rather than defend human dignity, for the first time in U.S. history a majority of Senators approved legislation to use taxpayers' money for research requiring the destruction of human life," said FRC Chief Taliban, Tony Perkins. "The President is absolutely right to veto this legislation."
With that kind of endorsement, Perkins should have no trouble getting his large, compassionate flock to adopt a stem cell or 10.
And think of what a win-win this is for everyone involved: The 400,000 cells will get a home with the people who claim to care about them the most. And the proud, new, exclusively-heterosexual "parents" will get an unprecedented amount of time to get the embryo's room ready, prep the other children for a new brother or sister and, of course, adjust the family finances for a new mouth to feed and a new family member who will need health care once they're bigger than the head of a pin.
I think this will work out just fine. Unless Congressional Republicans vote against it -- or Bush uses his second veto.