Tricky DickeyStem Cell Research — By Joe Carter on August 10, 2004 at 2:08 am
John Kerry thinks you�re ignorant. He thinks that the average voter is so completely uninformed that he can make outlandish and ridiculous promises and many voters will simply nod in agreement. He is, of course, absolutely right. Most Americans are so completely uninterested in details that they will not even know when they are being duped.
Take, for example, Kerry�s recent promise to lift the partial ban put on embryonic stem cell research that President Bush initiated with an executive order three years ago:
This not the way we do things in America,” Kerry said in the Democrats’ weekly radio address. “Here in America we don’t sacrifice science for ideology. We are a land of discovery, a place where innovators and optimists are free to dream and explore.”
To those who pray each day for cures that are now beyond our reach,” he said, “I want you to know that help is on the way.”
The Democrats believe that with ESC research they have hit on lucrative �wedge issue� and have been pressing the theme since their recent convention. According to Slate.com writer Timothy Noah, the speakers at the convention used the term stem-cell 20 times � twice the number of times that they used the term �unemployment� and ten times as often as they mentioned the phrase “woman’s right to choose.” Hillary Clinton, in a typical Clintonesque manner, even went so far as to claim that �We need to lift the ban on stem cell research�� even though there is no such ban.
But the Democratic leadership knows that most voters aren�t likely to bother learning the facts. Even otherwise smart people like Noah and Glenn Reynolds fall for the canard that Kerry passes off on ESC research. But it wouldn�t take much effort for them to discover that Kerry is lying. After all, the executive branch doesn�t control the ban on funding � that responsibility belongs to Congress.
Since the average American voter believes the President controls the economy, it�s not a surprise they would believe that he would control federal funding for ESC also. But Bush�s executive order didn�t really initiate a ban at all. In fact, all it did was clarify what the executive branch is supposed to do � enforce the law. The ban had already been put in place by former Arkansas congressman Jay Dickey.
In 1996, Dickey attached an amendment to the Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill that prohibits the use of federal funds for research that destroys or seriously endangers human embryos. The Dickey Amendment, which has been reimplemented every year since �96, reads:
None of the funds made available in this Act may be used for�
(1) the creation of a human embryo or embryos for research purposes; or
(2) research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death greater than that allowed for research on fetuses in utero under 45 CFR 46.204 and 46.207, and subsection 498(b) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 289g(b)).iii
(b) For purposes of this section, the term �human embryo or embryos� includes any organism, not protected as a human subject under 45 CFR 46 as of the date of the enactment of the governing appropriations act, that is derived by fertilization, parthenogenesis, cloning, or any other means from one or more human gametes or human diploid cells.
While the law is rather straightforward, the Clinton Administration was able to find a way around it. They reasoned that if private funds were used to destroy the embryo then it would clear the way for government funding. They would allow the private sector do the dirty work and then slip them funding for their efforts. Although this violates the clear intent and spirit of the law, it was nevertheless ruled to be a �legally valid interpretation.�
The Clinton Administration adopted this stance as their policy but was unable to implement it before Bush took office. Unlike his predecessor, Bush came in with the intent to obey the law as it was written. But by the time he made his decision, a number of embryonic stem cell lines had already been derived and were in various stages of development, growth, and characterization. Since the damage had already been done to the embryos, Bush agreed to a compromise which allowed federal funding to be used for these specific lines. Funding of ESC research would be allowed without having the government be complicit in the destruction of more human embryos.
Kerry’s expressed policy is a reversal of this position. By �lifting the ban� he means that he’ll take the position of former President Clinton and ignore the law as it is written in order to find a way around its limitations. Since both he and Sen. Clinton were unable to override the Dickey amendment in the legislature, he is attempting to do it by fiat.
In essence, Kerry is promising to ignore the will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives. But if he really wants to make laws rather than simply enforce them then he is running for the wrong office. He doesn�t want to sit in the Oval Office. He wants to sit on the Supreme Court.