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Stem cell wars and the presidency
By Sharon Hughes
The Associated Press reports that over 4,000 scientists, which includes 48 Nobel Prize winners, have signed a statement "opposing the Bush administration's use of scientific advice." Why? Because of the President's limits on embryonic stem-cell research.
This comes on the tail of the 48 Nobel Prize winning scientists endorsing John Kerry for President and criticizing President Bush in a letter which was released by Kerry's campaign in June, stating, "The Bush administration has ignored unbiased scientific advice in the policy-making that is so important to our collective welfare. John Kerry will change all this."
So, what's this really all about? Timing and agenda, of course. The statement by the 4,000 scientists, the letter of endorsement by the 48 Nobel Prize winners, and the public endorsement of lifting the limit on stem cell research by Ron Reagan at the DNC convention are designed to defeat President Bush in the election.
It is safe to say that Kerry and Bush are on opposite sides of this issue. So, what do the Bush limits comprise?
Basically, the Bush stem-cell policy limited federal funding for research to $100 million, and research itself to embryos that already existed in laboratories. It should be noted that the Bush administration has provided much more generous funding for research on adult stem cell research which shows great promise.
It's interesting to note that in New Jersey, in addition to being the one place in the United States where it is legal to create, implant and gestate a human clone for the purpose of obtaining their embryonic stem cells - as long as you kill it at birth or soon after, also allows the obtaining of human adult stem cells from cloned or normal embryos. But these cells don't develop for several weeks and since the science to grow an embryo outside of a woman's womb to this stage does not yet exist, normal or cloned embryos would have to be implanted into a woman's uterus and then later aborted.
It must also be noted that written into this same New Jersey law passed in 2004 is provision to market embryonic and fetal body parts by allowing "reasonable payment" for "removal, processing, disposal, preservation, quality control, storage, transplantation, or implantation of embryonic or cadaveric fetal tissue."
As pointed out by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, “The President does not believe we should be creating life for the purpose of destroying it.”
Those who oppose embryonic stem-cell research argue that under current conditions "harvesting" the cells destroys the embryos of humans. There is a growing national debate over whether human embryos should be protected as human individual lives from the moment of gestation through the eighth week.
On August 9th, the three year anniversary of President Bush's placing limits on embryonic stem-cell work, John Edwards and Laura Bush both addressed the issue. As reported by the Dallas Online Baptist Standard, Edwards said his running mate, John Kerry, would lift restrictions on funding, and that August 9th is "a sad anniversary." The Kerry-campaign also criticizes the Bush policy as "ideologically driven."
The Economist.com says Laura Bush criticized stem-cell advocates correctly, for giving the impression that stem cell cures are imminent. According to the Washington Post the First Lady said, “I hope that stem-cell research will yield cures (but) we don't even know that stem-cell research will provide cures for anything, much less that it's very close.”
Former First Lady, Nancy Reagan offered her support for President George W. Bush's re-election. She said after their meeting, "I repeated my full support of his re-election and my hope that everyone will join in supporting his campaign.'' This is significant given that she had lobbied his administration to loosen the limit on stem cell research.
My own state, California, will decide in November whether to approve the largest government funded embryonic stem cell research program in the country, with $3 billion over the next 10 years, contrasted to New Jersey's $6.5 million this year.
Movie suggestion? Check out Gattica. It's about two brothers, one a "love child" the other genetically ordered. Is this 1997 film, about genetic engineering to overcome predispositions to disease, "prophetic" like some say "1984" was?
Sharon is the President of The Center for Changing Worldviews, and hosts Changing Worldviews TALK Radio which is heard on KDIA AM1640 San Francisco; KGDP AM660 Santa Maria, CA and WITA AM1490 Knoxville,TN, as well as online daily at Oneplace.com. Her column appears on several online news sites including CaliforniaRepublic.org, ChronWatch.com, MichNews.com, NewsWithviews.com, RenewAmerica.us and others. For further information visit her website at www.changingworldviews.com or her Blog at http://changingworldviews.blogspot.com. Contact her at email@example.com.
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