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March 9, 2009

Opinion: Stem-Cell Ideology

Bush-era compromise removed in the name of "science."

Today President Obama is expected to lift the existing ban on federal funding for research using new lines of stem cells taken from human embryos. Here's how CBS and the AP introduced the news:

President Barack Obama is expected to sign an executive order and memo Monday in an East Room ceremony that will end a divisive policy decision by his predecessor, while sending a clear signal that science - not political ideology - will guide his administration.

So much for objectivity. Actually, President Bush announced the ban in 2001 as a compromise position so that researchers could continue using existing stem cell lines (from which the embryos had already been destroyed), while prohibiting taxpayer money from paying for research that destroys human embryos. In the eight years since the ban was announced, research on human embryos has remained fully legal if funded privately.

It has not been very productive, however. While dozens of treatments using adult stem cells (from which no embryos are destroyed) have been produced for conditions ranging from Parkinson's to autoimmune disorders, the results of research using human embryos have been scarce at best--and sometimes downright scary.

Further, with new research showing that pluripotent cells can be produced from adult stem cell lines, the supposed scientific necessity to destroy human embryos to advance research would seem to be removed. And yet President Bush's compromise is deemed anti-science as all funding restrictions are swept aside (pending the institution of some ethics guidelines), forcing taxpayers to pay for research that many find deeply morally objectionable.

Just who is being ideological, anyway?

Comments

For more ideological reporting, check out the ABC News article by Dan Childs and Lisa Stark. They write, "The Bush administration was often accused of allowing politics to color its scientific decisions, something the administration denied." This is in the same article where they note the political unpopularity of Bush's position. According to ABC News, some 59 percent of Americans support loosening the restrictions. Only 35 percent oppose what President Obama is doing. Now when science has sided with Bush and Obama's campaign donors stand to benefit from federal funding, Childs and Stark do not mention the political implications of the current president's thinking.

Man has not started down a slippery moral slope he is nearing the bottom of that slope.

I heard this story on the radio this morning. I could not believe where we have come as a race of people! "Ideology" can't guide science? I suppose it could be considered that Darwinian "Survival of the Fittest" is nearing its ultimate conclusion... If you aren't fit, we'll see that you don't survive! Sad to see...

President Obama's reversal of the ban on federal funding for the creation of new embryonic stem cell (ESC) lines for research and possible therapeutic applications is medically unwarranted and economically irresponsible. Within the last month, numerous articles describe research that remarkably advances the safety, efficiency, and efficacy of induced pluripotent stem cells, which scientists can generate from a virtually unlimited source of somatic/adult cells. Such research rebuts the presumptive advantages of ESC lines (immortal, genetically identical cells created via "therapeutic cloning"), and thus refutes the arguments for promoting and financially supporting ESC research. Furthermore, President Obama's action is morally reprehensible as he appeals to a "populist" justification by noting that federal endorsement of ESC research with taxpayer dollars will promote economic stimulation and health care advances. States such as California, New Jersey, and Illinois have "forced" taxpayers to fund ESC research that has yielded nothing more than costly buildings, salaries, and lawsuits. To defend and sanction with federal tax dollars the instrumentalization of human life--the intentional creation and destruction of the most primitive and vulnerable stage of human development-- by appeals to "progress" and popular sentiment is fiscally irresponsible, politically self-aggrandizing, medically unnecessary, and unequivocally unethical.

Yes, "So much for objectivity." President Bush's "compromise position" sure looked like ideology restraining science.

He neglects to mention that given funding limitations, it is no wonder that fetal stem cells haven't shown great promise. And "adult stem cell lines ... would seem to maybe work [emphasis on 'seem']. There has hardly been the opportunity to test the efficacy of either approach.

I love "forcing taxpayers to pay for research that many find deeply morally objectionable." A large percentage of the population found President Bush's War in Iraq "deeply morally objectionable." That's the way this Republic works -- everyone is not happy with everything. However, in this case, the potential for good is stellar, and it will be done legally.

If you had a loved one daughter son husband dying from a disease and this could help how would you feel bring this toyour family level and see how you feel.

Ideology, or a moral compass, has to guide science. If science is your god and has no constraints placed upon it then you end up in the world of eugenics, and an anarchist place where the ends always justify the means.

What if it were your son or daughter whose life was required for the sake of research? NOW how would you feel.

Toni: If I had a loved one who was dying from a disease, I know, I would not have a person killed to save my loved one. However, embryonic stem cells have not helped anyone, (in fact the dead embryos attest to the further carnage) but adult stem cells and pluripotent cells made from adult stem cells HAVE been proven to help people with these terrible diseases. I know how we love those of ours, but we should care for the whole of the human race, as well. Killing is not the answer, but is most reprehensible when there is another more effective way. Not to mention, the tumors that are arising from embryonic stem cells that have been implanted in laboratory animals AND humans. Maybe our punishment will be answered prayer if we are so callous to others to gratify ourselves.