Former New York governor Mario Cuomo has challenged President Bush’s policy on embryonic stem cell research in an op-ed piece in the New York Times. Since no one, he says, can agree on when life begins, the matter should be decided by “a panel of respected scientists, humanists and religious leaders” who would take testimony from bioscience experts on the emergence of consciousness, on viability outside the womb and how other religions deal with these issues. If the panel says that science cannot prove that human life begins at conception, then President Bush should acknowledge that his belief is basically religious and that he is imposing his personal views on the nation.
In a pluralist democracy, says Mr Cuomo, decisions should be made by consensus, not by imposing religious dogmas. “Every day Americans who abhor the death penalty, contraceptives, abortions and war are required to pay taxes used in part for purposes they consider offensive. That is part of the price we pay for this uniquely successful democracy,” he writes.
This is not the first time that Mr Cuomo has attempted to bridge the gap between religious doctrines and political realities. He is a seasoned exponent of the view that Catholic politicians must be both personally opposed to abortion and support “pro-choice” laws because it is wrong to impose “private” religious judgments on other citizens.
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