Thursday, July 20, 2006

Idyllic Conception

All about stem cells.

This one’s been going on for a long time, but it has been brought to a head by President Bush’s first veto. But even handling this weighty issue that potentially affects the lives of millions of Americans who are and who will become afflicted with diseases this type of research may have the ability to alleviate, he wasn't above playing politics from the bully pulpit.
Bush tried to put a face on his position, too. Eighteen families who had adopted unused frozen embryos were in the East Room as Bush made his case in a 15-minute speech that came 40 minutes after the veto. On stage behind the president and in the audience were two dozen children, squirming in their Sunday best, born from those leftover embryos.
"These boys and girls are not spare parts," Bush said. "They remind us of what is lost when embryos are destroyed in the name of research."
But it isn't like we didn't know this was coming, as all the Presidents men have said as much in the past month.

Rove told us all that Bush would veto the bill, and the master of politicizing the most sensitive of issues for political gain told us exactly how the veto would go down:
"We were all an embryo at one point, and we ought to as a society be very careful about being callous about the wanton destruction of embryos, of life."
Tony Snow echoed this sentiment and spin:
"The president is not going to get on the slippery slope of taking something living and making it dead for the purposes of scientific research."
Even White House staffers got into the game, saying,
The bill would compel all American taxpayers to pay for research that relies on the intentional destruction of human embryos for the derivation of stem cells, overturning the president's policy that funds research without promoting such ongoing destruction," it said. Bush says the practice forces a choice between science and ethics.

Soon to be former Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA), ardent Bush supporter and rated the most partisan member of Congress, spoke at length on his blog about "clarifying" why he supported the President’s decision.
This debate is about FEDERAL FUNDING for embryonic research.
After all, there is no ban on this research–the question is on which type of research we focus our limited federal research dollars on.
The government should NOT be in the business of destroying embryos for lab experiments. Especially when we know that adult stem cell research works.
So I guess he'd prefer to dance with the devil he knows. To him, this is part of ‘America’s Values Agenda.’ I was always under the impression that American values were about government funding for research to cure disease. We give the pharmacuetical corporations untold millions for just that purpose.

But this debate gives us a more defined look at where this useless culture war has taken us. If it is against 'right to life' politics to create human embryos that will later be destroyed in the in vitro fertilization process, much less once those embryos are abandoned by their donors and the fertilization clinics, then why do we allow such clinics to operate legally at all? From Slate:
In short, if embryos are human beings with full human rights, fertility clinics are death camps—with a side order of cold-blooded eugenics. No one who truly believes in the humanity of embryos could possibly think otherwise.
Why don't 'right to life' politicians equally target such clinics? Because of politics, that's why.

I don't like it. I respect the real right to life community for their beliefs - many of them run on a similar moral path to mine, but diverge on matters of legality and policy. Those issues can be hashed out only through honest public discourse. But the kind of political grandstanding we're seeing here is not really a debate to the people who are having it. It is a game.


RightOnPeachtree said...

My thinking on this:

* Abortion is legal.
* Creating embryos and destroying them is legal.
* Testing on stem cells from those embryos is legal.

None of these is federally funded, though (except in the case of abortion after rape/incest, I think).

Completely consistent. It would inconsistent if we started federally funding embryonic stem cell research.

The bill this week didn't make ESCR illegal. It only refused it federal funding. If there truly is so much promise in this, surely the biomedical venture capitalists will seize on it. The potential money to be made from what the scientists claim can be done is enormous. It should be an easy sell for them.

Why won't the scientists hunker down and work on the non-controversial suggestions? There is research supposedly showing the ability to make adult stem cells pluripotent (i.e., behaving like ESC's). Also, there is unanimity in encouraging research on ways to extract stem cells from embryos without destroying the embryos. There is promise in cord blood stem cells. To my knowledge, all these are federally funded or have been approved for federal funding. Why won't they jump on this instead of insisting on the one thing that they can't get?

Well, I suspect that there's some politics going on there, too. If they can get kick the door open and get federal funding on ESCR, they can use that to push for federally-funded abortions. And they can expand it beyond ESC's to even further grey areas (cloning, etc.).

patsbrother said...

Personally, I've come to the conclusion we should outlaw in vitro fertilization.


Because its ridiculous for rich people to create embryos all over the globe that either a) will be destroyed indiscriminately; b) will be destroyed discriminately in furtherance of medical science; or c) will be held in stasis until some warped individual decides to adopt.

At best, the 200,000 proto-rich people's babies currently in the freezer in America should be the cap on research. Because they're already there, not enough people are crazy enough to feel more compassion for 16 cells than for a extant baby that needs adopting, and they were not created for this purpose.

What's the big deal? Well, you pop one of these thingers in the oven, a few month later you got a human being. The most logical conclusion to stem cell research is a specialized embryo created with a person's DNA specifically to help aid that person. You may not have problems with that, but I do. We are alive: and despite what we see on television, where the characters that are important to us never die and never become seriously impaired, none of us are guaranteed a perfect life or perfect health. We should view our lives as more precious rather than as indestructible. By all means, do whatever you can to make you and your loved ones better, up to a point. That point is the creation of human life with the sole and exclusive purpose of destroying it for someone else's gain. I find that idea both wantonly egotistical and repuslive. We are all going to have to watch loved ones deteriorate and die; there is no point in taking life just to postpone that date.

Buzzzbee said...

ahh yes. How could I forget. FreeMarket and Big Business are the solutions to all problems.

Why do we have a government at all? I'm sure that for everything our government does, there is a company out there willing to do it for us, for the right price of course.

We can have the AolTimeWarner Judicial Corporation, the Microsoft School Company, and finally a real CEO President.

After all, when have we not been able to count on the business world to help us out when we needed them or put the public interest before their own?

Dante said...

"After all, when have we not been able to count on the business world to help us out when we needed them or put the public interest before their own?"

When there's not a TON of money to be made by helping out. Even as a conservative, I can see where the private business isn't the answer to everything, but there's entirely too much money ar stake for businesses to completely ignore any real potential from stem cell research.