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Friday, August 25, 2006

The Ban on Federal Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research Does not Have a Leg to Stand on

Yesterday saw the advent of a new era in embryonic stem (ES) cell research. Researchers at a private company in Boston have found a way to generate ES cell lines by removing a single cell from a two-day old embryo. Removing this cell does not reduce the viability of the embryo.

Incredible. Amazing. Ethical crises averted. Last one out, turn out the lights…

…(sigh) if only.

The President still opposes this line of research. People say he has a tin ear but this is maddening. Why is he still opposing it? Because right wing conservatives have decided (if you can decide something without even considering anything) that they still oppose it.

All of the benefits, none of their concerns. What more do they want?

These embryos have a cell removed, then they go into a liquid nitrogen freezer right next to the other 400,000+ IVF embryos that will never, ever see the light of day again. That is reality and (with the exception of the Catholic Church) no one ever says a damn word about it. I’ve written about this hypocrisy before.

Candidates should immediately call for a rescinding of the executive order that denies federal monies to ES cell research. DO NOT ACCEDE TO THE ASSERTION THAT ES CELL RESEARCH TAKES LIFE! (Aside from the fact that this claim is dubious at best, to not strongly make this point would undermine all previous assertions to the contrary.)

Despite the fact that traditional ES cell research is not immoral, researchers have gone to the trouble of finding a way to assuage the fears of a vocal minority (despite not sharing those fears). It must be pointed out that, despite this attempt by scientists to address the ethical concerns of hard-right conservatives, the hard-right conservatives are still unwilling to let the research move forward. This, in the face of the great benefit to humanity that ES cell derived treatments will be, is unacceptable and should be treated as such. The intractableness of the religious right on this issue will either label candidates who stand with them as wildly out of touch with mainstream America (2/3 of whom approved of ES cell research before this new discovery) or, for those who reject it, alienate them from their base.


The best part? Maybe, just maybe we can move out of the black hole that stymied ES cell research and begin to catch up with the rest of the world

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