Wednesday, May 25, 2005

President's Stem Cell Position Makes Little Sense

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed an embryonic stem-cell research bill that would provide federal funding for the controversial science. Passed with bipartisan support on a 238-194 vote, the issue nevertheless brought out some heightened and even extreme rhetoric.

According to AP, “Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said the embryonic research bill would force taxpayers to finance ‘the dismemberment of living, distinct human beings.’”

While President Bush weighed in with: "This bill would take us across a critical ethical line by creating new incentives for the ongoing destruction of emerging human life. Crossing this line would be a great mistake."

There is indeed a very real need to consider the ethical implications of this research. But, as we have argued, this bill creates standards that are ethical. Given that the only embryos that will be used for research would otherwise be discarded by fertility clinics, the rhetoric from Delay and the President seems rather over-the-top.

If these men believe fertility clinics are unethical, they should come out and say so. But if they support fertility clinics, then their statements on stem-cell research lacks any consistency of conviction. How are we advancing the culture of life by choosing to discard embryos rather than using them in research that could improve the lives of tens of thousands of people?

Privately funded research on new embryonic stem-cell lines is perfectly legal. Do Delay and the President believe such research should be illegal? How can they say it is unethical to federally fund it but ethical to let it continue privately?

If opponents want to argue that we shouldn’t be using government money to fund scientific research, that’s at least a consistent argument, if rather short-sighted. But the position taken by Delay, Bush and others is, frankly, nonsensical and appears to be an attempt to pander to the extreme-right Republican base while avoiding the political liability of pushing for an out-right ban on embryonic stem-cell research (not to mention fertility clinics).

The Senate should pass this bill as soon as possible and force the President to face the American public and explain exactly how a science is too unethical to fund with government money but ethical enough to permit to continue with private funding. It’s an untenable position.


At 8:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush said that "The destruction of life should not be paid for with public funds?

Excuse me asshole, who paid for the bombing of Iraq that you ordered? I believe there were thousands of innocent humans (not a mass of cells) killed.

At 8:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Bush supporter. However, his refusal to recognize the importance of scientific progress, on the basis of right-wing fundamental lunacy, places him on a level with the fundamental religious lunatics who are killing us in Iraq.

At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Brian said...

Why do you see embryonic stem-cells as the only way to further advancement of medical science? There are other options, two of which the President mentioned in his speech regarding the bill which passed alongside the embryonic one: derive stem-cells from adults and umbilical cord blood. These are reasonable options to explore, and would prevent the death of human life.

At 8:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A point to ponder...
If abortions are legal and are every woman’s right, and partial birth abortions are legal. Logic would dictate that embryonic stem cell research is then also legal would it not?

At 8:11 AM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Here is some info on the science behind stem cell research. While adult stem cells and umbilical cord stem cells are very much worth studying, they have the potential of curing only a fraction of the diseases embryonic stem cells might.

At 8:17 AM, Anonymous Jay said...

At some point, you have to draw a line in the sand and say let's stop the momentum of destruction of life. The basic mis-understanding of the two cynics who have responded before me is that Bush will veto spending Federal tax dollars for this research, NOT stop the research. Just who's paying for it. The facts currently are that there is NO evidence that embryonic stem cells are helpful, but adult stem cells are showing great promise. The facts dont support the spending of my tax dollars for wild-card imponderables. Ethically I say do what you want, just don't send me the bill.

Abortions are legal, just not moral. Even the morally lazy Europeans are shocked that a religious country (USA) has murdered 43 million unborn children

At 8:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To quote: "Abortions [in the US] are legal, just not moral. Even the morally lazy Europeans are shocked that a religious country (USA) has murdered 43 million unborn children." They aren't shocked at our lack of moral fiber, they are shocked that we religious folks are too busy fighting the war of the sexes to prevent resulting pregnancy without abortion. So, we are stupid above all. Sadly, I would have to agree that this is immoral.

At 8:39 AM, Anonymous Thayyib Ahmed - Dubai, United Arab Emirates said...

Bush is beating around the bush by diclaring privatetly funded research is ligal and government funding is illigal!

It is unfortunate that we have a president who has a mind of a monkey, jumping all over the place, from Iran to North Korea to Iran and back to US.

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Jonathan C said...

Jay, why draw a line in a sand directly in front of a promising line of research that has the potential to cure myriad human disease?

Your statement that "NO evidence that embryonic stem cells are helpful" is correct, however, there is TONS of evidence that embryonic stem cells WILL BE helpful if given the proper time, money, and intellectual rigor.

Your argument, "The facts dont support the spending of my tax dollars for wild-card imponderables." satisfies Alan's request to take the stand that the federal government shouldn't fund any scientific research. All technology was at one time or another a "wild-card imponderable." I agre with Alan's analysis of your argument: consistent, but lacking foresight.

At 9:31 AM, Blogger Shay said...

I support adult and embryonic stem-cell research but not GOVERNMENT-FUNDED research. President Bush is right on this point. If stem cell research is the next big thing, then why isn't private industry all over it to generate new cell lines? It is because it is (1) too iffy an enterprise; with (2) highly dubious benefits; and thus (3) scientists want a government guarantee, which will reward inefficiency. If people are so gung-ho about the benefits of such research, then private industry AND individuals will come out of their pockets to fund such research. And given actions such as the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment, call me skeptical about claims that the government will be more ethical about such research than private industry.

At 10:02 AM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...


Just a couple quick questions 1) would you support government funding if the science were more advanced (i.e. was near or at a breakthrough that would cure paralysis)?

2) There has been and is government fudning for a number of medical sciences (cancer research, etc.) whose benefits are just as promising and yet just as dubius as stem cell research. Do you support removing funding in those instances? do you support any federal funding for medical research?

3) While Tuskegee is a good point (and a deplorable event) do you think private labs will be more ethical than the government in this instance? I imagine some will be, some won't be. Either the practice as outlined in the bill is or is not ethical. Private labs have no more incentive to be ethical than publicly funded ones as far as I can tell.

Finally, if you are saying that we shouldn't fund this research because it isn't advanced enough, I strongly disagree but still think you have a fair argument. Bush, however, isn't making a fair argument. He's saying that federal funding is unethical under any circumstance--but the science itself is ok. That's an inconsistent argument.

At 10:23 AM, Anonymous Milkman said...

Why this should be also gov funded:

#1 There is a REASON why the private sector shouldn't be in charge of this...the reason is they have no interest...EVEN THEY admit it has extreme promise...but none of them want to invest the time/money/men to catch up the 5 years we are behind (yes behind) other nations. When they can spend their money in other fields and yeild large ammounts of money faster.

#2 If this IS gov funded, guess what...the results are public...and not privately owned, do you REALLY want the cure to a major deadly disease to be in the hands of one private medical company? Because if you do oh boy will you see dollar signs in eyes of greedy men.

#3 Guess what, we aren't killing anything that wasn't already set to be killed. This is seriously along the lines of saying "No you cannot use the leftover bricks in the garbage from building that housing repair the orphanage...they must be thrown away" Really that's what the religious fundies are stooping too...These eggs WILL die, they WILL rot in a garbage heap, and they WILL STILL be there reguardless of this legislation failing. We are NOT talking about ANY life that EVER had a chance in 1 trillion of ever surviving more than a few hours. Are you people going to also run off and defend the spotted owl next time eh? Are you alive? (You are killing 5Trillion + cells daily so you can ingest them...or are souls only good enough to be given to a small clump of HUMAN cells ...thousands of animal/plant cells GET NO SOUL and are unworthy of salvation!

Seriously most of you are delving into "looney evironmental/vegetarian" logic over a few cells in the garbage heap that you are not helping and just refusing to let us use for the benefit of those who ARE alive and might NOT die.

Do you REALLY think Jesus wants you to deny the chance we have, instead of just throwing it away, literally?

Final Comment: I am in favor purely of using elements that have a 0% chance of survivability IE fertility clinic leftovers.

At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Laura said...

The fundamental issue here is not whether or not to allocate government funds to this research. The true issue at the heart of this whole discussion is how to answer the question, "What are the unborn?"

We only have two options: either they are human people or they are not. If they aren't human, then there really wouldn't be a reason not to exploit them for our benefit. If, however, these embryos are human people, which evidence and logic both support, we have no business destroying their lives either in private business or in government-funded research labs.

The question, "What are the unborn?" also has implications for the activities (such as abortion) that are currently legal in this country. The same reasoning applies: what makes us think we can end human life just because it's convenient or of some benefit to us?

At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laura - No the question is not actually, "what is the unborn" - that is actually a BS question - what is "unborn" other than nonsense framing of the issue - is it a life that is viable outside the womb? A life that has a 50% chance of viability outside the womb? I certainly don't know - but what I do know is that it isn't a mass of undifferentiated cells. Becuase if you take that to arguing that a zygote is an "unborn human life" than what is to stop you from taking that to its logical end and arguing that amino acids, or even basic elements (when put in the right environment and combinations) are "unborn" human life. An embryo from an fertility clinic (remember these are excess cells from procedures that parents have used to artificially inseminate - they aren't going to be cultivated into human beings - they aren't unborn - as there isn't a chance, none whatsoever, that they will ever be born.

I am not certain what anti-abortionists are worried about in this discussion, this is not like it is being suggested that women get inpregnated merely to create abortable fetuses for use in medial science - that's just bogeyman talk. These are cells collected from human beings that otherwise would have been destroyed in some other fashion, most likely by the bodies themselves, being used to cultivate new kinds of cells to be used in medial science...

At 12:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush said that "The destruction of life should not be paid for with public funds?

I'm glad to see him come out against the death penalty.

At 12:25 PM, Anonymous DD said...

Brian asked:
"Why do you see embryonic stem-cells as the only way to further advancement of medical science?"

Embryonic stemcells have three distint advatages over adult stem cells and umbilical cords:
1. They are pluripotent and so can become all cell types of the body
2. They are more plentyful than adult cells which are rare in mature tissue. This is important as large numbers are needed for stem cell therapies
3. They are easier to grow in culture. Important for the same reason as 2.

At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why do right wing fanatics try to tell scientists what to research and what is promising. adult stem cell work is not promising and noone wants to do it except tom delay and george bush. someone tell them that only embryonic stem cell work is what is needed.

Morevoer, if a woman has a right to abort her child she also has a right to give her wasted embryos to science. This isnt even a tough moral issue since we are only dealing with cells in a dish rather than an almost viable fetus. not even close.

At 1:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I find interesting is that opponents of this issue fail to look beyond their opinions and look at the facts. It has been said multiple times that the ONLY embryos that would be used would be those that are going to be discarded in the first place. NOT the potential "snowflake babies" or the embryos that will be frozen. Only the embryos that have been chosen, by the parents, to be discarded, would be used.

I've seen several mentions of life being "destroyed" and "dismembered" for this purpose. We were all embryos at one point in our lives, after all. But these embryos are already going to be "destroyed" and "dismembered", when they are disposed of as biologogical waste! This never seems to be mentioned, and instead "snowflake babies" and such are brought up when they aren't even relevant to the embryos being mentioned. I'd much rather see an embryo be "destroyed" for the use of science, in hopes of saving more lives, than "destroyed" as biological waste.

*"Destroyed" is being used in response to the use of misleading language used by some oppononents.

At 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why dont the republicans go talk to frank luntz. they can rename the new act:

the medical waste miracle act; or

the discarded embryo recycling act.

Had the right wing actually listened in science class instead of praying for evolution to not be true maybe they would understand how important this work is.

However, the fact that these embryos are thrown in the garbage otherwise makes anyone against this look like goon who loves to see the continuing death and suffering of millions of people around the world.

At 8:50 PM, Blogger Terry C said...

If the US government is not going to fund research that destroys life then it should stop all military weapons R&D projects immediately.

The reason it is OK for private companies to continue limping along is that eventually someone (probably in a foreign country) will find a profitable use for some type of therapy from embryonic stem cells and then the US pharma companies can rip off the science to make slightly different versions for sale here. Pharma's interests are safeguarded by the government refusing to fund research and the administration can pander to the religious right at the same time. It's a match made for Bush Co.

At 1:52 AM, Blogger Sean said...

how clueless can you be?
You continue to show your true liberal roots. To even ask why something can be legal in private industry, but be unethical for govt to fund, is just plain stupid.
One is voluntary, the other is compulsary. Youa re forcign people to give their money to something, that they have a moral objection to. I am not even goign to start on the issue of federalism, and limiting govt growth. sorry, but if this can be justified, then any spending can be justified. Which means nobody in either party is serious about the deficit. There has to come a point where we use the federal govt for the essential duties, we cannot afford to keep expanding it.

what scientific progress?? There is only talk of "possible" progress. please name one thing that has come of these experiments? Since other countries have been funding it, why no solutions? Also, Britian has more restrictions on stem cells research than the US places on private companies here.

Pleas explain the fundamental reason why the federal govt shoudl take this on? What makes this so major, such a part of the essential functions fo the govt? This is abour personal and emotional arguments. There is no reason in these arguments. None. Show me all the breakthroughs from govt funding?
I think Bush is makin a mistake arguing the moral issue. But i guess eh cant argue financial responsibility, since he has nto shown it anywhere else.

comments like "they have the potential of curing only a fraction of the diseases embryonic stem cells might."
That is exactly what I am talking about. Hello. How the hell do they know which one can cure more diseases? they dont. if they did, they would have cures!
Please STOP the LIES!!!!!
This does not stop "promising research". it does not. Stop the lies. Give me numbers, give me facts. Not just fantasy ideas.
Stop the lies!!
Oh yeah. How do you know it is promising, if it has not been getting funding from the government? hmmm. Could it be that private industry is who discovered that it has the possibility of being useful? Yep.

"ONLY embryos that would be used would be those that are going to be discarded in the first place. NOT the potential "snowflake babies" or the embryos that will be frozen. Only the embryos that have been chosen, by the parents, to be discarded, would be used."
FALSE. Didnt someone just the other clone embryos? Those ar enot discarded, but created.

i still think this whole issue has gotten into emotional, therefore not rational debating. Typical fot he left, they just dont like anything religous or Bush. Rep are continuing to betray their base, by expanding the reach of the federal govt.

At 1:59 AM, Blogger Sean said...

i would not support this funding if there was evidence of cures. There was a high percentage of success.
It is not the federal governments job!
If you think these grants will be handed out without any political influence, then I have some swamp land I want to sell you.

guess what? somebody can actually oppose govt spending and not be a religous right wing nut.
Stop the emotional BS. Give me some facts!!! How much money are other govts spending? How are they five years ahead? How do you know that?
This is not about whether private industry can handle it, because most of you have not even done any research to see how much private industry has put into it. This is about a view of the govt, and a governing philosophy. Once again this website seems to fall on the left side of that yellow line often. I cant think of an issue where it has fallen on the right side yet.
stopt he fake "centrism" talk.

At 2:00 AM, Blogger Sean said...

What about AIDS. Private industry sure has abandoned that issue, haven't they? LOL. The govt has funded so many breakthroughs. LOL.

At 1:48 PM, Blogger some horrible person said...

I find it ammusing that Bush is against stem-cell research, yet he supports the death penalty.

The medical definition of "life" has always (until the pre-lifers decided to redefine the term) been that a fetus is not considered living unless it is developed enough to live outside of the mothers womb. Last time I checked, that meant that an embryo doesn't qualify under those stadards. Regardless of how you feel about the issue at hand, the embryos at the fertility clinics are just going to be destroyed, so why not let scientists use them to do potentially life saving research. This isn't a black and white issue: there are grey areas that must be addressed and our president is not doing that.

At 9:23 PM, Blogger AubreyJ said...

Definition of life

MOTION... does it seem to move under its own power? Does it move
with some discernible purpose? (Toward food, away from heat, etc)

REPRODUCTION... does it have some way of making more of itself,
either through sexual reproduction or by budding or fissioning in
some way?

CONSUMPTION... does it eat or drink? Does it take in nutrients
in one way or another in order to survive, grow, and eventually

GROWTH... does the organism develop over time, increase in
complexity, until it reaches a mature stage?

STIMULUS RESPONS... does the organism respond to external
stimuli, i.e. has a nervous system of some sort to detect
external conditions?

To qualify as a living thing, an organism must in one way or
another meet each of these criteria.

The above info from NEWTON BBS… ( )


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