The Stem Cell Debate

The Volokh Conspiracy has some very good points at issue countering the post Obama Removes Stem Cell Barriers.

Brian G says “I am sickened to hear the paralyzed people on the news talking as if they will be walking again in a few years thanks to Obama. I am pretty sure they will not, and their hope will all of a sudden start to wane come about a week and a half into November 2012.”

Jim Hu says he is a molecular biologist and he has “never liked this being cast as part of the so-called “Republican War on Science”. As kunkmieser points out, this is about deciding person vs. non-person. Science has nothing to say about this, IMO.”

David Walser doesn’t …

understand is why Bush’s policy keeps being misrepresented in the press and elsewhere. Bush did two things with regard to embryonic stem cell research: 1) Prohibit the use of federal funds for research that would involve destroying additional embryos. 2) He dramatically increased federal support for embryonic stem cell research (which was easy to do, since there was virtually no federal funding for this research before Bush took office).

Reports of Bush’s policies consistently misstate the first thing and omit any reference to the second. Bush did NOT prohibit embryonic stem cell research. He simply choose not to fund one form of that research while funding another form. Saying that he prohibited the research is like saying abortions are illegal in the US because the federal government does not pay for them.

Thomas A thinks it is “A good move only for those unconcerned about the morality of destroying human embryos for research. As I’m sure you’re aware, the Bush order did not prohibit embryonic stem cell research, merely federal funding of it except for existing lines. The Bush policy was an elegant compromise, and in retrospect, looks almost prescient.”

josil thinks “The “war on science” is just another slogan used to avoid dealing with the issues in a unemotional way. If we really wanted to rationalize science funding we might find other criteria to direct those funds other than appeals to the gut. What if anti-cancer research funding was based on the proportion of people who suffer (and die) from the disease? I bet the funding distribution would be different than it is today.”

The point is that the recent change in US policy in regards to stem cell research was based on a false premise and seems to have run past, and over, issues worthy of more significant introspection. That is not science but rather base politicing.

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