Monday, March 9, 2009

Stem Cells and Obama

Ryan T. Anderson (one of the authors of the article I posted earlier today) sent me another of his articles, this one is about Obama's stem cell policy reversal. Very nicely done. He has this note of warning that we should all pay heed to:

It is, therefore, critically important to note what Obama did not say this morning. He promised that he would make sure that "our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction." He went on to add that "it is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society." This is certainly correct. But in pledging only to prevent reproductive cloning, Obama intentionally left the door open for research cloning. The cloning procedure involved, of course, is exactly the same in reproductive and research cloning; the only difference is that in research cloning the developing human is killed before being allowed to be born. Given what we know about the necessity of cloning for the medicinal use of embryonic stem cells, Obama's implicit support for research cloning and killing is unconscionable.

All of that said, while human cloning has yet to be performed, let alone perfected, non-embryo-destructive techniques to produce patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells are available now. Yet another advantage.

Obama's rhetoric this morning was notably toned-down. When speaking of Christopher Reeve, he expressed regret that Reeve was never able to walk again. He predicted that "if we pursue this research, maybe one day--maybe not in our lifetime, or even in our children's lifetime--but maybe one day, others like him might." What happened to the promises from the Democratic Convention of 2004 that a personal repair kit was right around the corner? In fact, after a decade of research on embryonic stem cells (which, despite media spin, has remained legal even as federal funding was restricted), there are no clinically available treatments using embryonic stem cells. Only one study has been approved by the FDA for testing, and the tests have not begun. Meanwhile, after just 18 months of research on induced pluripotent stem cells, scientists are just a "hair's breadth" away.

Thanks Ryan.

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