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Rewinding the stem stuff, or cell away, cell away..

Jonathan Alter, Newsweek columnist, wrote his 'Between the Lines' this week about President Bush's veto of the embryonic stem cell bill. I've written quite a bit about this issue along with my sister who takes an opposing point of view. She says that we need to respect the point of view that using the stem cells for research is morally offensive, destructive of life and will lead to a slippery slope of cellular Frankensteinism (my words). I think that her side needs to respect the fact that we believe that the government funding of embryonic stem cell research may lead to amazing cures for diseases heretofore unhindered by medicine, AND that the stem cells allowed to be used for this are cells that would otherwise be discarded.

Alter chastizes the Democrats (and people taking my position) about our negativity regarding adult stem cell research and umbilical cord stem cell research just because we are for embryonic stem cell research. I agree. He goes on to make some really strong points about why Bush shouldn't have vetoed the 'stem cell' bill. His words are much better than mine, so I"m going to quote:

If destroying an embryo is "murder"—the Bush position, according to his spokesman—how can he support the existence of fertility clinics, which routinely throw out thousands of surplus embryos? ....Despite federal funding and intense outreach, only 128 of 400,000 frozen embryos (.032 percent) have been adopted, says Sen. Arlen Specter. It turns out that couples using the clinics overwhelmingly prefer to donate their surplus embryos to science, while couples looking to adopt prefer babies already born who need homes, a large constituency of extremely needy children Bush seems to have put in second place.

"Anti-cure" activists have been reduced to two arguments for why federal support of embryonic-stem-cell research is unnecessary. The first is that private and state efforts are filling the gap. But the $3 billion California voters approved in 2004 has been tied up in lawsuits; so far, only $12.1 million has been spent. And even when more money is released, much of it will be wasted creating duplicative labs, because no lab that receives federal financing can take part in embryonic-stem-cell research.


The second argument made by opponents is that noncontroversial adult-stem-cell research is so promising that there's no need to mess with embryos. This is contrary to the principle of science, which is that you move ahead with all reasonable approaches because there's no telling what will work.


I really couldn't have said it better myself (or even 1/2 as well).

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  • I'm John H
  • From Salemtown, Tennessee, United States
  • Cruising past 50, my wife and I have reared three kids and several dogs. I work for state government and daily conspire to deflate bureacracy.
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