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Stem Cell Research

By The Reverend Published: December 3, 2007

UPDATE BELOW

Charles Krauthammer states in a recent column about stem cell research reprinted today in the Beacon....

The embryonic stem cell debate is over.

..... The verdict is clear: Rarely has a president — so vilified for a moral stance — been so thoroughly vindicated.

Why? Precisely because he took a moral stance. Precisely because....... Bush was made ''a little bit uncomfortable'' by the implications of embryonic experimentation. Precisely because he decided that some moral line had to be drawn.

....

Bush got it right........ What Bush got right was to insist, in the face of enormous popular and scientific opposition, on drawing a line at all, on requiring that scientific imperative be balanced by moral considerations.

....

Bush therefore appointed a President's Council on Bioethics to oversee ongoing stem cell research and evaluate how his restrictions were affecting research and what means might be found to circumvent ethical obstacles.

....

I sat on the council for five years.

....

One recommendation was to support research that might produce stem cells through ''de-differentiation'' of adult cells, thus bypassing the creation of human embryos.

That Holy Grail has now been achieved.

....

Providence then saw to it that the technique be so elegant and beautiful that scientific reasons alone will now incline even the most willful researchers to leave the human embryo alone. Link

The question is......is any of what Krauthammer says really true? Well, not exactly. The Beacon printed his slanted column anyway.
Here are a few "corrections".....

"This new research is just the beginning — we hardly understand how these cells work," said James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, who led one of the two teams which made the simultaneous discoveries.

"It is not the time to abandon stem-cell research," Thomson said, adding that embryonic stem cells will remain the "gold standard by which other research is measured."

Faissner (chair of the department of cell morphology and molecular neurobiology at the Ruhr University in Bochum in western Germany) agreed. "There may be those who argue that the stem-cell debate isn't needed anymore, but I think this is totally wrong," he said. "We need the use of embryonic stem cells to figure out these pathways — how a cell goes from an undifferentiated one to a hair or skin cell, or whatever — even if it will not lead to applications in a direct sense." Link

Contrary to Krauthammer's terribly biased and ignorant claims, the embryonic stem cell debate is not "over" in any sense of the imagination. The "Holy Grail" has NOT been achieved. Embryonic stem cell research is, "the gold standard", to which all stem cell research is measured. That's according to, you know, scientists actually leading out in this field.......not to neo-con wingnuts like Krauthammer whose column couldn't have slobbered over his Dear Moral Leader enough.

There is no question Krauthammer made false claims about the science involved in recent skin cell developments. Not surprising really. But has George W. Bush's "moral stance" on embryonic stem cell research really been "vindicated"?

Michael Kinsley, writer and former news teevee pundit, is suffering from Parkinson's. He could be a beneficiary of this new scientific research. Here's his take....

..although the political dilemma that stem cells pose for politicians is real enough, the moral dilemma is not and never was. The embryos used in stem-cell research come from fertility clinics, which otherwise would discard them. This has been a powerful argument in favor of such research. Why let these embryos go to waste? But a more important point is, What about fertility clinics themselves? In vitro fertilization ("test-tube babies") involves the purposeful creation of multiple embryos, knowing and intending that most of them either will die after implantation in the womb or, if not implanted, will be discarded or frozen indefinitely. Even if all embryonic-stem-cell research stopped tomorrow, this far larger mass slaughter of embryos would continue. There is no political effort to stop it. Bush even praised in vitro fertilization in his 2001 speech about the horrors of stem-cell research. In vitro has become too popular for politicians to take on. But their failure to do so makes a mockery of their alleged agony over embryonic stem cells.
Finally, the position a politician takes on an issue tells you something about his or her character, values and intellect. And that understanding doesn't disappear even if the issue itself does. Over the past six years, Bush and most Republicans in Congress have done their best to stop medical research that could cure many diseases, including one that I have. They claimed that morality and ethics required no less, yet they demonstrated by their indifference toward in vitro fertilization that they couldn't possibly be serious about this. Now they hope that science will spring them from the trap they walked into with full knowledge. Bush Administration apologists even say the President deserves credit because he directed research away from embryonic stem cells and encouraged scientists to look for more acceptable alternatives. In fact, the new research would not have been possible without the kind involving embryonic stem cells, which Bush believes is immoral. Link

Summary: Charles Krauthammer is wrong on both counts. His proclamation that the debate is over is contradicted by the very scientists who are doing the research. His proclamation that Bush's "moral stance" has been "vindicated" rings hollow because of Decider's contradictory stance on in-vitro clinics and his failure to acknowledge that without embryonic stem cell research ("the gold standard") new discoveries would not have been possible.

To the Akron Beacon Journal: Please.....if you must print both conservative and moderate columnists, seemingly the only sides of an issue you recognize (rarely is a progrssive included on your pages), please leave Charles Krauthammer off the list....his columns are kind of embarassing....don't you think?

UPDATE: It's Tuesday morning and I now see that James Thomson has responded to Krauthammer's ridiculous article.
Find his response here. Attention Beacon Journal opinion page editor: You need to read this linked account.

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