Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bush Derangement Syndrome and Stem Cells

In a recent correspondence with a new friend, he suggested that W was a bad president for banning stem cell research. I found this misrepresentation of the president's position deplorable, so I responded -

OMG. You didn't say stem cells. Tell me you didn't say stem cells. At this moment you remind me of an unfortunate character in a WB cartoon who has stumbled into a mass of rakes. With each step you take to get away from one, you step on another to have it smack you in the face.

W did not stop stem cell research. I bet you think he did. He did not stop embryonic stem cell research. Surely, you say, he must have done that! Nope. Guess again. You have fallen victim to Bush Derangement Syndrome. So help me, I am going to take away your access to the Heinlein wing at the local library.

Here is what he actually did. He put NO restrictions of any kind on private research. He said that there would be no FEDERAL FUNDING for EMBRYONIC stem cell research involving NEW LINES of stem cells. There were already a couple of dozen lines of embryonic stem cells upon which experiments were already being done, and those WERE eligible for federal funding. Research using adult stem cells, and I think cord blood stem cells was eligible for federal funds.

Bush said that he didn't want federal money used to encourage abortions. That taking stem cells from aborted fetuses would encourage abortion, as it would give inappropriate value to the fetus, and make abortion clinics more likely to encourage women to abort, so that they could sell the fetuses.

OK, I think his reasoning is a bunch of crap. I think that a first trimester abortion is not killing a baby in any meaningful sense. But I DO think that is an arguable position that a fetus is a baby at some point, and at some point acquires some rights. A "fetus" that is going to come out on its own in less than a week is more than just a piece of the mom's body. People of good conscience can disagree about when a child begins developing rights, and to what extent. W was going further than I would, but calling a fetus a baby is not entirely irrational, or a myth based superstition. It is a reasonable opinion, with which I disagree during the first trimester, but entirely agree during the third trimester.

Now we get to the federal funds question. We aren't taking about blue sky theoretical research here. That is the ONLY kind of research that I think should be getting federal funds. Big Pharma is going to make plenty of money from stem cell treatments, and they know it. Eli Lily and Pfizer are going to do stem cell research on their own. MS, Parkinsons, AIDS, Diabetes, and a host of other private charities are going to pump big bucks into University research studies. Stem cell research will be more than adequately funded without my tax dollars. Including Embryonic stem cell research.

Dude, you drank from the coolaid. You been runnin with the wrong crowd.


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