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Friday, October 27, 2006

Embryonic Stem Cell Ignorance: Enough Already

I just want to say that I have no problem with Charles at TwoConservatives. However, I have a problem with his characterization of the debate on embryonic stem (ES) cell research in this country and his attack on Michael J.Fox.
"So, he is running around the country attacking republicans who voted against federal funding for one specific stem cell research, namely Embryonic Stem Cell research that kills viable embryos."”
I've dealt with this point before, the embryos that would be used to make new ES cell lines are surplus embryos from in vitro fertilization (IVF). How do embryos become surplus? The IVF clinic fertilizes several eggs that are individually assessed for viability. The best embryos are chosen for implantation, the rest (which are least likely to be viable) are stored in liquid nitrogen. Forever. The vast majority of the 400,000+ excess embryos in this country will sit in LN2 until they are thrown away. Where is the cry from the right against IVF? Where is the wailing and gnashing of teeth? (Answer: There is no favorable political angle in opposing IVF which has helped so many people have children. The only people who have a consistent position on IVF and ES cell research are the Catholic Church [Hint: they are against both.] While I disagree with their position, I respect their consistent position.)
"It's not enough that the republicans are the first to fund embryonic stem cell research."
This is often stated and highly misleading. The Republicans were the first to fund human ES cell research because the first human ES cells were isolated in 1998. Republicans have controlled Congress (and NIH funding) since 1994. (Incidentally, Republican funding of NIH overall is a joke.)
"Or that they voted to increase funding for the much more promising adult stem cell research, and cord research."
This is a line that has been foisted on people for too long. The vast majority of biologists believe that ES cells have far more potential than either adult or cord blood stem cell research. Any assertion to the contrary is simply untrue.
"It's not enough that embryonic stem cell research is LEGAL federally, and in the states. It's not enough that many states and localities are funding research into embryonic stem cells, including 6 BILLION dollars in California."
Here'’s something else I don'’t understand. Half-measures. If ES cell research is so immoral, than why hasn't it been banned outright? Or even been attempted to be banned outright? Thank God some states have the foresight to fund ES cell research. This is a wise move from both a moral and entrepreneurial standpoint. ES cell technology will be developed. You clearly do not understand how biological science is done in the United States. Federal funding drives it. It needs it to survive. States can't compete with the Federal government in funding - even California. The question is will the US be a leader or play catch up? Enjoy your flight to Seoul for your medical treatments.
"No, Michael Fox will not rest until every one of us is forced against our will to contribute to the destruction of human life for a pie-in-the-sky promise of medical miracles decades down the road."
[I'm gonna be a little harsh here.] This argument is incredibly weak. I don't do moral equivalence arguments but in this case I believe one is apt. Approximately 70% of Americans support ES cell research (a veto-proof majority, BTW), 64% of Americans oppose the war in Iraq. Half a TRILLION dollars have been spent in Iraq. I don'’t have the exact amount that has been spent on stem cell research, but I'’m (generously) estimating $200 million dollars since 2001. That is 0.0004% what we has been spent on the war. Or, to put it another way,
"No, [George W. Bush] will not rest until every one of us is forced against our will to contribute to the destruction of human life for a pie-in-the-sky promise of [Democracy in the Middle East] decades down the road."
Post script on this one: Are cures for Parkinson'’s, diabetes, or Alzheimer'’s disease not worth it if they will only be found in decades? This is a defeatist argument. "It will be hard and take time to get results so let'’s not try."

Unfortunately, at this point, Charles' post degenerates into an anti-liberal (Note: Fox campaigned for Republican Arlen Specter in 2004), anti-Hollywood rant.
"Like most liberals, Michael Fox believes the government exists to solve his problems, and that working Americans exist to fund whatever is important to him, in this case killing human life to save his own life. It's time for us common folk to stand up to these multi-millionare hollywood types who think they are more important than we are, who think simply because we are willing to fork over 9 bucks to watch their crappy movies we would be happy to have them take our money by force to fund their pet projects."
"Their pet projects", like curing debilitating diseases? Selfish bastards. Actually, I agree with one thing, Michael J. Fox probably didn't give a damn about a cure for Parkinson's disease before he found out he had it. Christopher Reeve didn't give a damn about a cure for paralysis before he became paralyzed. OK. They can still do good now.
"Michael Fox, stop stealing MY money, and go after your buddies Soros, Buffet, Gates, and Turner -- they have BILLIONS of dollars, and are giving it away to people like you."
Thank God some wealthy people care more about helping people and saving lives than about paying less tax on capital gains.

The facts support ES cell research. Jim Webb supports ES cell research. Support Jim Webb.

To contribute to Jim Webb for Senate, click
Bloggers for Webb or
Phone from Home for Jim Webb

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Comments on "Embryonic Stem Cell Ignorance: Enough Already"


Anonymous V said ... (9:44 AM) : 

Thanks Robb, for a brilliant post. I was in the process of writing an article along these lines, but will now save my time. You said it, and said it well.
I am also getting weary of people telling hollywood types or 'other people' to shut up on issues. I am not a big fan of listening to anyONE, as much of listening to WHAT one has to SAY. This is, of course, not a fashionable approach in this country today. Intelligent reasoning is for losers, apparently. Anyways, so let me get on the sh*t-slinging wagon and ask GOPers why anyone should listen to OReilly or Limbaugh or even to W? What have these hatemongers achieved in life that makes them credible on anything but the extensive use of narcotics? I think it is pretty safe to say that MJFox (just through his body of entertainment work) has done more constructive things in his life than the aforementioned three put together.


Blogger Robb said ... (6:07 PM) : 

Dude, anything you write is always welcome.

Thanks for the compliments.

Are you in one of the up for grabs Republican districts in Indiana?


Anonymous v said ... (9:53 PM) : 

Nope. Unfortunately, being the damm furriner that am, I gotta stay out of politics in these here deep red states. Let the pendulum swing. People here have a hard enough time coming around to the truth when it is presented to them by their kin. My getting involved would only give a lot of these guys an excuse not to listen to reason. My passion and frustration notwithstanding, I realize that I have to sometimes heed Milton's words "They also serve who only stand and wait".


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