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Sunday, December 23, 2007

If Embryonic Stem Cell Research is SOO Great...

Why doesn't George Soros use one of his several billions to fund it? This is the question that I asked to a liberal family friend at Thanksgiving dinner. The question came up after they mischaracterized George Bush's position on stem cell research. They claimed that George Bush is against stem cell research.

First, Bush's position, along with his supporters on this issue, must be clarified. Bush isn't against stem cell research and in fact he isn't against any form of stem cell research at all, even the controversial embryonic stem cell research. Bush isn't even against government funding for all embryonic stem cell research. He is for funding on embryonic stem cells that have already been discarded. What he is against is the government funding of embryonic stem cell research in which embryos are created for the sole purpose of being destroyed for research. He doesn't believe that tax payer funds should be used for research in which human life is destroyed.

A new scientific discovery has put the issue of embryonic stem cell research back in the forefront. I want to give a hat tip to my Redstate colleague tomlinsondouthat for finally putting this sophisticated science into layman's terms. Think of the different forms of stem cell research as disks. Adult stem cells are blank disks however they can only be used for one purpose like: DVD's, CD's, games, etc. This is called multipotent. Embryonic stem cells are blank disks that can serve any function. This is called pluripotent. Obviously it goes without saying that there is potential in embryonic stem cell research not held in traditional stem cell research. Now, scientists have discovered a technique in which they can essentially take adult stem cells and remove all of their data and turn them into something close to any embryonic stem cell.

The science is interesting and fascinating but let's face it most of us are too stupid to understand. The morality, on the other hand, is something all of us need to think about. Proponents of federal funding for stem cell research believe that any procedure with potential must be explored because science must be given a chance to flourish fully. While this is true, there must also be some line that we cannot cross even if there is scientific potential. For instance, human cloning has plenty of scientific potential and even this scientific layman wouldn't be surprised if it lead to many discoveries that saved lives. That doesn't mean that we as a society should support its research, and it certainly doesn't mean that the federal government should use tax payer funds to fund it. Heinrich Himmler's experiments also probably had great scientific potential. Of course, no one believes those should be done let alone funded by the federal government.

There will be many proponents of embryonic stem cell research that will say my comparisons are ridiculous and unfair. Are they though? After all, proponents of embryonic stem cell research believe we should create human life for the sole purpose of destroying it. Given that context is it really not a good comparison? What is more obscene than the destruction of human life? THAT IS THE ROOT OF EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH.

The proponents of embryonic stem cell research don't consider an embryo a human life because it doesn't perform all the functions of traditional humans. This is of course the most obscene position. They are the ones that favor destroying the life before it lives the way they consider living and then say it isn't really a life. These are the important questions that proponents of embryonic stem cell research refuse to answer or write off.

In fact, it was Bush's insistence on moral and ethical scientific research that fostered the environment for the innovations recently discovered in stem cell research. While his opponents condemned him for standing in the way of scientific breakthroughs, he provided funding to the National Institute of Health so that scientists could develop methods of research on stem cells that didn't face the moral dilemmas of embryonic stem cell research.

It is exactly the sort of society that Hitler favored that says morals and ethics be damned in favor of scientific research. While those, like my family friend, condescend to those like me who have the nerve to ask such ethical questions, I ask my original question? If embryonic stem cell research is so great then why can't scientists get George Soros to provide funding.

I recently read the book, Freedomnomics, and it left me with no doubt. The free market is the ultimate equalizer. If embryonic stem cell research is really that great and all moral questions are trivial then researchers should have no trouble going into the private marketplace for funding. There are more than enough philanthropists looking to park their money in worthy causes. If the proponents of embryonic stem cell research are really right, they don't need the federal government to give them a hand out for funding research. That isn't what they want though. They want us all to ignore the important ethical questions raised by embryonic stem cell research, and still use government, or tax payer funds, to fund it. This despite the fact that many tax payers are against this sort of research.

The proponents of stem cell research on the one hand claim that ALL ethical questions are trivial and then want to force tax payers to fund the research despite their own ethical questions. If all ethical questions are irrelevant, and embryonic stem cell research is all that, then the private marketplace really is the best place for embryonic stem cell research.

The fact that proponents are so forceful in supporting government hand outs tells me that maybe their position really isn't all that.


Vincent said...

Excellent article. For some people, progress itself is not as important as making fun of conservatives, especially conservative Christians. Since most conservative Christians oppose embryonic research on an ethical basis, well, these certain people (read: enlightened and self-centered liberals) just have to be for it.

Now that the new research has led several leading scientists to abandon embryonic stem-cell research (also on ethical grounds), you would think the liberal elites would give up, too. But no, because that would mean conservatives - including God forbid Bush - have won the argument.

For some on the far left or right, it is not about facts or science, it is about politics.

Kim Walker said...

It's worth noting that our current president is himself a brain stem. Knowing this makes your comments so much more germane.

mike volpe said...

It's worth noting that you used to cheapest and weakest debate tactic, ad hominem attack. You will likely need to look up the word though you will find it accurately describes your non sensical comment.

It should also be noted that ad hominem attacks with nothing else to them are also evidence that you have lost the debate. If you didn't and had something intelligent to say, then of course you would. Since this is all you could muster, you are also implicitly telling me I am correct.

Anonymous said...


you're simply wrong.

The embryos to be "destroyed" for embryonic stem cell research are TO BE DESTROYED IN ANY CASE. These embryos WERE NEVER CREATED NOR INTENDED FOR STEM CELL RESEARCH.

Why are you misinforming readers? These embryos were created for the purposes of artificial impregnation and to help couples with insemination problems. These will be destroyed soon anyways. So, why not use them for very viable, very promissing research?

mike volpe said...

I am not misinforming anyone on anything. Embryos aren't made simply to be destroyed unless that destruction is in the course of research. They weren't going to be destroyed anyway. That is pure nonsense. Their whole entire purpose for existence was to be created to be destroyed so that they could be studied. You may have no problem with this whole process however many Americans do. Public funding means using tax payer funds. That means many people would have their money used for something they are morally against.

You scream about how your tax dollars go to a war you hate and then turn around and dismiss other folks similar problem with how their tax dollars are used. You can't have it both ways.

The fact is that Bush DID make a distinction between embryos already created and set to be destroyed and those yet to be created which would be created for the sole purpose of destruction. Folks like you have no care about his actual position. You just want to use this issue to demagogue like you do each of his policies.
Here is another source, I will quote the relevant part...

"As a result of private research, more than 60 genetically diverse stem cell lines already exist. They were created from embryos that have already been destroyed, and they have the ability to regenerate themselves indefinitely, creating ongoing opportunities for research. I have concluded that we should allow federal funds to be used for research on these existing stem cell lines, where the life and death decision has already been made."

Anonymous said...

Great Article!

The Anti-Bush/Anti-Morality people have made the whole stem-cell research debate very black-and-white.

And excellent comeback with public funding of iraq war.