Uh, Senator…

I’m eager for the transcript of this morning’s Face the Nation to come out, because as I was listening to a discussion of Bill Frist and stem cell this morning, I thought I heard Sen. Sam Brownback say that this would be the first case of using taxpayer money to intentionally end human life. Uh, Senator, what about capital punishment… and war?

UPDATE: Yes, he said it:

SCHIEFFER: So you’re going to let this go then? You’re going to be for this?

Sen. BROWNBACK: No, what I thi–no, I’m not going to be for this. This is a big step. This will be one of, I believe, the first time we’ve ever used taxpayer money to pay for the intentional destruction of human life and that’s what this does. But what I’m focused on is let’s get a package of votes together. Let’s do this one but then let’s also take up the issue of human cloning. Let’s also take up the issue of the creation of embryos, just human embryos, just for the purpose of researching. Let’s do all those together. Let’s vote on all of them. Let’s move the whole package and have this debate with the country.

  • JBD

    You heard correctly, Jeff. That's precisely what he said.

  • Yeah, they replayed what he said about an hour ago on CNN. Pretty outrageous comment, indeed.

  • billg

    Just one more example of anti-democratic American radicals equating their opinion with the truth in order to force the rest of us to behave according to their desires.

  • “Intentionally” is the key word here. Since DNA testing has turned up so many miscarriages of justice, you could call executions accidental. And the war was definitely entered into by accident.

    Therefore, only stem cell research would end life … oops, the stem cells to be used were on their way to the dustbin so it’s either/or, isn’t it. Disposing of stem cells is deliberately, therefore ‘intentionally” ending life too, isn’t it. Sorry, back to the drawing board.

  • innocent human beings sometimes do “die” in War Jeff, but every time a living human fetus (Latin for “little baby”) is experimented upon in the name of “science” and discarded in the trash, an innocent human life is taken. Why is it that those on the left are so impervious to recognizing the difference between innocent defenseless developing human beings and “throat cutting” terrorists who intentionally mureder the innocent?

  • Linda Edwards

    TNB, and yet, I was totally against invading Iraq, but the right has no problem with expecting ME to help pay for it.

  • … maybe because stem cell research isnt about experimenting on innocent defenseless developing human beings – do your homework Gregg.

  • Chancy

    Jeff –
    Why don’t the anti-stem cell research people carry this arguement to it’s logical conclusion.

    To be honest about this would mean the anti stem cell proponents would need to OUTLAW all the invitro reproductive clinics.

    Many, many 5 day old clumps of cells are routinely destroyed in these clinics when a couple who have been trying to conceive (and who would probably remain childless without this reproductive assistance) have been successful in having children no longer wish to keep these (cells-embryos) frozen.

    With the couple’s permission.why not use these stems cells to furthur scientific research leading eventually to cures for diseases such as diabetes ,alzehimers etc.

    It is much better to have some government guidelines on the use of these stem cells rather than keeping our heads in the sand and ignoring the future benefits.

  • tonynoboloney

    What Frist is advocating is “government funded” stem cell research. In which case I am totally against this. It is one thing for the government to allow such research, it is another thing to ask ME to pay for it. No one seems to make this distinction.

    I for one am tired of the comparrison between the capital punishment of convicted felons, who had the benifit of a trial, a jury of their peers, and a appeals system with the taking of innocent lives through abortion. Apples & oranges. As to the comparison to causualties of war might I point out that the greatest proportion of deaths is to enemy combatants. The loss of “innocent” lives in war is although horrific, inevitable. And in all cases of collateral damage there is an attempt to prevent them at all costs. Using taxpayers money to intentionally end human life indeed.

  • …which is why the Democratic party is losing elections these days.

    Priority: demonize others for not wanting to spend taxpayer money to fund what should be privately funded research.

    Priority: complain and bitch about choices made to spend taxpayer money to *defend the nation*, which *is* the business of federal government, even if you disagree with the precise decisions made.

    These priorities are clearly out of whack.

  • owl

    It is about how much taxpayer money to spend on this. The way I understand it, Bush was the first one to spend any. Am I wrong?

    Personally, I don't object to more funding for this. I object to the way this argument is always laid out.

    Present facts, all the facts. Unless I am wrong, a person can not present the case that "Bush is against stem cell development". The correct facts would be he is against as much spending of taxpayer money on this project as some would like. A very different set of truths.

    Now a person could disagree with this funding decision. There are many people who oppose abortion and they consider this equal. I do not oppose either. But at least I think I am more honest with my "facts".

    Am I wrong? And I don't need to hear about death penalty and war. Just call me blood thirsty since I say yes to all the above.

  • goddessoftheclassroo

    Under what article of the Constitution does Congress have the authority to fund this at all?

    If a state wants to fund a university research program, that's the state's business. Its voters could accept or reject such a proposal.

    The federal government should have not stake in this.

  • As Al Franken would say, for the radical right, life begins at conception and ends at birth.

  • dualdiagnosis

    Timeout- attack or disagree with his views, but Jeff your implication is off.

    –You- I thought I heard Sen. Sam Brownback say that this would be the first case of using taxpayer money to intentionally end human life.

    –Sen Brownback- This will be one of, I believe, the first time we’ve ever used taxpayer money to pay for the intentional destruction of human life and that’s what this does.

    Seems to me he is saying that this is – ..one of the few times .. or .. one of the first times..

    Where is the story?

  • Geek, Esq.

    The big question is:

    What will Rick Santorum do to defend his crown as the Dumbest, Craziest Wingnut Senator?

  • Evan

    I really can't take the stem cell people seriously.

    They want to experiment on embryos, which they see no moral issue with. Yet I dare say that if someone advocated harvesting organs from 8 month old fetuses, they would have a problem. Why would that be? Because it makes them more 'squeemish' the further life progresses?

    GK Chesterton wrote the same regarding abortion. If you are going to allow abortion, why not allow infanticide also? It makes much more logical sense. It allows prospective parents to take a view of the child and see if it is one they would like to keep or if it has any serious illnesses or birth defects.

  • I’m guessing Brownback was indeed referring to the destruction of innocent life. Although state taxpayer money has been, and still is, used to pay for abortions, but maybe he was talking only federal. IVF is definitely a monkeywrench in the argument against embryonic research, but I’d recommend reading Will Saletan’s five part series in Slate on the problems arising from current embryonic research and the desire of many scientists to use embryos created specifically for research, and to experiment on them long after the 14 day period currently used as the cutoff internationally.

  • owl

    Geek…..I object to Santorum receiving top honor of "Craziest Wingnut". I give that honor, hands down, to McCain. That darling is called a moderate by almost all media outlets.

    Crazy is setting up a mini government, within the government. Crazy is everyone ignoring a coup that took place under their noses. I don't care if you are Right or Left, you should object to this crazy, dangerous thing. Fight all you want about issues, laws, etc but when 14 people put themselves into a position of this much power, someone should be concerned. They steal from all. The President. The other elected Senators, even the House. The Voters.

    As a qualified wingnut (in your book), I reserve the right to nominate the Craziest Wingnut.

  • Jim S

    Gregg, I hope you’re sitting down because I have a bit of shocking news for you. You’re not God. There is also no objective proof that you and yours have a better interpretation of the Bible than any of the many people who disagree with your viewpoint about when an embryo really does become human life. You also fail completely in your post to address the fact that the embryos that would be used for this research are ones that were not used by people using IVF to have children and in spite of conservative propaganda about “embryo adoption” are almost never going to finish developing and become babies.

    Carson Fire, I assume that you don’t believe that the government should be funding any scientific research of any kind? That the NIH shouldn’t sponsor any health related research? Otherwise your argument is rather lacking.

    Greg, I went and read the Saletan column. It doesn’t say what you said it did. Not at all. He speculates that there are scientific reasons why the extension could be justified. It’s full of lots of speculation. But nowhere does he claim that there are now many scientists who want to experiment on more fully developed embryos.

    Evan, BS is BS even if it is GK Chesterton that says it. Our legal system draws fine distinctions all of the time and no matter how much some people want to ignore anything vaguely resembling nuanced argument it exists. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a difference between felony and misdemeanor in our legal system. There wouldn’t be negligent homicide as opposed to first degree murder.

    owl, it’s not a matter of how much money Bush wants to spend. It’s the fact that he has refused to modify his stance on sources of stem cells even after it’s become obvious that virtually all of the stem cell lines that he said research could be funded for are flawed.

    Let us not forget that even if Bush doesn’t want to ban all stem cell research Brownback, the person whose appearance on a talk show started this discussion most definitely does want every trace of it banned from the United States in the name of his conservative religious beliefs.

  • whodat

    Jim S-

    I can point to many Bible verses that are not up for interpretation that point to the sanctity of life. A few here:

    For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:13-16).

    This is what the LORD says–he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you … (Isaiah 44:2).

    The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (Jeremiah 1:4-5).

    There are absolutes in life. It’s ironic that you would tell Greg he is not God. People who abort babies are actually the ones who think they are God.

  • Carson Fire, I assume that you don’t believe that the government should be funding any scientific research of any kind? That the NIH shouldn’t sponsor any health related research? Otherwise your argument is rather lacking.

    Not at all: I am criticizing those who *demonize* those who hold an *opinion* on government funding of scientific research.

    Clearly it makes sense for government to play a limited role. But if there are limits, those limits must obviously be defined.

    Government however does *not* play a limited role in the defense of the nation, which is what makes that earlier comment preposterous.

  • While Jeff is technically correct, both capital punishment and war use federal funding to end human life, it is little more than snarkiness intended to denegrate the messenger rather than meaningfully contribute to the discussion of the issue at hand. The issue of emryonic stem cell research provides many clear benchmarks by which an individual may define their position:

    1. no embyonic stem cell research should happen at all (complete ban, what is often incorrectly protrayed as the current situation)
    2. no federal funding of embyonic stem cell research
    3. federal funding of embyonic stem cell research limited to existing strains (this is the President’s position and the current policy with regard to funding)
    4. federal funding of embyonic stem cell research limited to stem cells that may be collected from blastocysts discarded after in vitro fertilization therapy (this seems to be what the Senator is speaking in opposition to, is the position always favored by Senator Frist)
    5. unrestricted federal funding of embyonic stem cell research, including the creation of embyos specifically for research purposes

    I feel confident saying that while some are completely opposed to any research or federal funding we have crossed that Rubicon and will not retreat unless alternative research efforts are demonstrably superior. Likewise, I feel confident in saying that while some have no problem with unresticted funding, for most Americans it feels too much like human experimentation for comfort. Therefore, when all the inuendo and passion is stripped away what is really being discussed most times is if we should, as a country, set our policy at level 3 or level 4. Anything that doesn’t address that question is wasted breath.

  • What about a strong proof that the embryo is not a human being, that the soul does not come into the body at its early stages ? :), it comes after an exact number of weeks of pregnancy, this proof really does exist ! and can be found by studying religions (yes that’s a plural).