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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Banning Federal Funding of Stem Cell Research Won't Keep a Single Embryo from Being Destroyed

It was a strange coincidence. The same day that the Senate passed a stem-cell funding bill, researchers announced a major breakthrough in stem cell research.

US News & World Report:

Adult stem cells transplanted into people with type 1-diabetes show potential as a treatment, according to a preliminary study in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. "It's a very promising step forward, but I would never use the word cure," says Richard Burt, the director of the department of immunotherapy at Northwestern University and one of the study's authors.

Of the study's 15 participants, 14 were able to go off insulin injections after undergoing powerful chemotherapy followed by the infusion of their own stem cells. But Burt cautions that it's way too early for patients to get excited: One of the 14 has relapsed, and others could. In addition, complications from the procedure can cause death in about 1 in 200 people, he estimates, raising questions about whether the benefits outweigh the risks of the treatment, especially among children.

So, a step forward, but not a cure. In California research with mice, all relapsed. The cure is somewhere else. Maybe embryonic stems cells. In 2005, three University of Wisconsin researchers were able to turn embryonic stem cells into pancreatic islet cells, which produce insulin. According to Wisconsin Technology Network, "Diseases that might be treated by transplanting cells generated from human embryonic stem cells include Parkinson's disease, diabetes, traumatic spinal cord injury, Purkinje cell degeneration, Duchenne's muscular dystrophy, heart disease, and vision and hearing loss."

In response to the Senate's bill, President Bush issued a statement saying, "I believe this will encourage taxpayer money to be spent on the destruction or endangerment of living human embryos -- raising serious moral concerns for millions of Americans."

Yeah, sucks to be them. Most people don't see the problem. An ABC News/Washington Post Poll taken in January shows that only 31% oppose embryonic stem cell research and slightly more -- 38% -- oppose federal funding for it. Why medicine has to be held hostage to this vast minority is beyond me.

Here's a fun fact for comparison; an overwhelming majority have 'serious moral concerns' about the slaughter in Iraq. 65% disapprove of Bush's handling of the war. But 'serious moral concerns' are only a problem when they involve a lot of hypotheticals, suppositions, and freakin' embryos. If actual people are literally being blown apart in a factual way, then it doesn't matter what people's moral concerns are. Kill away.

I've quit believing that Bush is a bona fide religious right guy a long time ago. He throws them a bone like this occassionally, but that's about it. He may say 'God' a lot, but you never see him in a church. Like Dick Cheney, he doesn't really give a damn about religion -- he's just in it for the political support. He's been told the command words to fire up the robots -- abortion, gays, 'judicial activism,' etc. -- and he uses them as often as possible.

There's also a certain amount of pigheadedness here. Bush vetoed the original stem cell bill -- his only veto to date -- and, by God, that veto's going to stand until he's out of office. Since the republican party's losing even its evangelical base, there's no other reason to force an issue that's a political loser.

Agence France-Presse:

"George Bush would have lost both elections without the evangelical vote," said Carson Mencken, a professor of sociology at Baylor University, a leading Baptist institution in Houston, Texas.

"In 2006, they didn't turn out, and it cost his party the Senate and the House of Representatives."

Does he really believe that this is the sort of thing that will get the right wing moonies back? Doesn't seem likely. The evangelical political movement is moving on -- dealing with issues like poverty, the environment, and peace. It's no longer a strictly republican movement. The GOP (and Bush in particular) has lost them. More accurately, Bush and the GOP have driven them away; in part, by giving them what they see as inconsequential crap like stem cell vetoes.

But it's not inconsequential for actual people out there. There are people waiting for cures, while Bush and the GOP play politics with their health and their lives. The opinions of those few nuts who are more concerned with embryos and fetuses than actual, real-life people matters more than those actual, real-life people.

As I pointed out when the first stem cell bill was introduced, then vetoed:

Did I mention yet that banning federal funding of stem cell research won't keep a single embryo from being destroyed? I did? That's good, because banning federal funding of stem cell research won't keep a single embryo from being destroyed. That's the important point to be made here and, so far, I haven't heard a lot of democrats saying it. They should be wearing t-shirts that read, "Banning Federal Funding of Stem Cell Research Won't Keep a Single Embryo from Being Destroyed."

The cells used for research are surplus -- they'll be destroyed no matter what happens. Bush's veto serves only a political purpose -- there is no other advantage. Once again, the White House has absolutely no problem playing politics with people's lives and calling those who disagree with them 'immoral' or 'anti-american.'

Nothing new...


Technorati tags: ; ; ; ; ; promises a second veto of funding -- either to kiss up to a that doesn't really exist anymore or because he's a stubborn ass

1 comment:

R James said...

That's the best and most to the point commentary I have read about embryonic stem cell research I have read yet and I read alot about this topic as I have an 18 year old son with a spinal cord injury. I voted for bush and I'm really sorry I did. Can't wait until that selfish a$$ is out of office. If bush values those embryos so much why doesn't he let them be used for medical research to possibly save another life rather than be thrown away as the ultimately will be?