Skip to comments.WSJ: Man of Steel (Christopher Reeve and stem-cell ethics)
Posted on 10/13/2004 5:36:52 AM PDT by OESY
...Mr. Reeve's rich legacy, however, is in danger of becoming one-dimensional. It's true that he was a political figure, championing stem-cell research....
At issue is one of those gray areas on which there is room for disagreement and ought to be vigorous debate, the killing of human embryos as a source of stem cells. Some, however, seem eager to use Mr. Reeve's legacy to shut off the debate. For instance, Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards promised Monday, "When John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve will get up out of that wheelchair and walk again."
First off, Senator Edwards assumes that research using embryonic stem cells will lead quickly and inevitably to a breakthrough for spinal cord injuries. If only science were that simple. The experts say that getting nerve cells to regrow and form new connections over significant distances is probably one of the most difficult challenges in the field. And even if a breakthrough is made, it may take much longer to turn it into a workable therapy.
More important, the ethics of this research is not as black and white as Senator Edwards implies. Taking an embryo that has the capacity to become a human being and cannibalizing it, quite literally, for spare parts may prove to be the beginning of a slippery slope that leads to human cloning for the purpose of growing new organs. While human cloning is banned for now, private citizens are still free to use embryos for stem-cell research. Private financing is unhindered, and voters in California are being asked to vote on whether they should finance it next month.
President Bush has drawn the line at using federal government money to promote such work, with the exception of research involving existing colonies of cells....
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
Like, walk like an Egyptian way-o.
All of this human embryonic stem cell research smacks of Josef Mengele at Auschwitz. Mengele arrived at Auschwitz with a mission to plumb the depths of the human mystery, and to extract the secrets of human genetics from the living twin specimens at his disposal. Are we not repeating the same mistake, Dr. Mengele preformed thousands of ghoulish experiments on Jewish prisoners during the Third Reich because, well after all, they were going to be exterminated anyway, so why not use them in medical experiments? This is the same rational used by those who wish to use stem cells from living, innocent, human embryos waiting to be born. Yet isn't it true that new research has found that certain cells from bone marrow of fully grown people have the same characteristics of stem cells and work just as well?
You can get the same stem cells in your bone marrow in your thigh (femur). It's just painful to harvest it. So why not take it from something that is going to die anyway. < /sarcasm >
Origins of the Current Policy
In accordance with the Dickey Amendment, passed each year since 1995, research involving the destruction of human embryos cannot be funded with taxpayer dollars. This is not Bush's policy; it is the law of the land, passed annually by Congress and signed by both Presidents Clinton and Bush. This law does not ban embryo research, and it does not fund embryo research. It is a policy of public silence.
In 2000, the Clinton administration discovered a loophole that would allow the NIH to provide some federal funding for embryonic-stem-cell research without asking Congress to overturn the Dickey amendment. By law, the government could not fund research in which embryos were destroyed. But if the destruction itself were funded privately, the government could offer funds for subsequent research on embryonic-stem-cell lines derived from the destroyed embryos. In other words: A researcher could destroy endless numbers of embryos in his private lab, and then use the fruits of such destruction to get public funding. This would not violate the letter of the law, but surely the spirit.
When he took office in 2001, President Bush put implementation of the Clinton guidelines on hold. He wanted a way to support potentially promising research, but he also did not believe the federal government should create an ongoing incentive for the destruction of human embryos. On August 9, 2001, President Bush announced his new guidelines: federal funding for research using stem-cell lines that existed before the announcement, but not for those created after. In this way, federal money would not act as an incentive for destroying human embryos in the future, but stem cells derived from embryos already destroyed in the past could be used with federal money to explore the basic science.
This was the fundamental bargain of the policy: no limits on embryonic-stem-cell research in the private sector (unlike much of the world, which regulates this practice), but no public subsidies to encourage a limitless industry of embryo destruction.
At a May 11 hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Aging, for example, Johns Hopkins Alzheimer's Disease expert Peter Rabins and Washington University Alzheimer's researcher John Morris both told the senators that they do not expect embryonic stem cells to play a role in Alzheimer's treatment. Experts on other diseases speak with similar restraint. In the end, the research may bear therapeutic fruit and it may not we cannot know in advance. It may cure some diseases and not others. But by seeming to promise medical salvation without limits, stem-cell advocates risk blurring the difficult ethical questions that surround this new science.
Though embryonic stem cell research advocates euphemistically refer to the current state of research as an early stage, the unfortunate reality is the goal of embryonic stem cell therapies is, at this point, more accurately described as a pipe dream. No researcher is anywhere close to significant progress in developing practical embryonic stem cell therapies.
The only thing certain is that the cost of that research will be high. If embryonic stem cell research had real and imminent possibilities, private investors would be pouring capital into research hoping for real and imminent profits. Instead, venture capital firms are contributing to political efforts to get taxpayers to fund research. What the venture capitalists seem to be hoping for is that taxpayer funding of stem cell research will increase the value of their stakes in biotech companies. The venture capitalists can then cash out at a hefty profit, leaving taxpayers holding the bag of fruitless research.
Embryonic stem cells are not going to be the source of a cure for Alzheimer's, Dobson told the capacity crowd. Are you aware that not one human being anywhere in the world is being treated with embryonic stem cells? There is not a single clinical trial going on anywhere in the world, because (embryonic) stem cells in laboratory animals ... create tumors. Nobody will use them.
By comparison, adult stem cells have shown great promise in the treatment of diseases such as diabetes, Dobson explained. And they do not require the destruction of embryonic human life, since they can be harvested from such sources as umbilical cord blood and bone marrow.
Screw stem cells. Medical marijuana cures all that (or so I'm led to believe).
I like the idea of saying that the libs are pushing a Mengelian conspiracy of killing children for a pie-in-the-sky chance to improve the lives of crippled celebrities and old people. But I don't think it will play with moderates and leaners. This stem cell funding is a sick and evil plan, but be careful how you compare Holocaust victims to embryos in a petri dish who will probably be disposed of anyway. The jews are a big-time swing constituency this year.
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