I noticed a poll question on Sen. Bill Frist’s new medical/health blog, Medical Matters. Behold:
Do you support S 2754, legislation which supports research to produce pluripotent cells without destroying human embryos?
I’m trying to determine if that question is intentionally or unintentionally misleading. I support the talking point aspect of this debate, which is stem cell research. It’s stupid to pretend like every cell ever created that could be a human will be a human. Restricting science from exploring stem cells is anti-progress that will harm people who exist while protecting people who never will. If that was S 2754, sure, I’ll take Yes please.
But if it’s the two specific aspects of S 2754, I must say No. Federal funding would be better spent on legitimately federal tasks. I have little doubt that private companies, as well as research organizations and universities (I’m ignoring the public funding for simplicity), will do the necessary research to uncover whatever potential stem cells hold. All they need is for the government to get out of the way. It’s almost a broken record.
That plays into point number two¹, which is that “destroying human embryos” will encourage politicians to pummel any scientific research that doesn’t meet their agenda. In this case, it’s the fundamentalist Christian ideal that life begins at conception, even when the cells involved could never be a human. After all, S 2754’s sponsor is Sen. Rick Santorum. I’m sure he expects “destroying human embryos” to be interpreted in a particular manner, which may or may not be grounded in science. Science should remain rooted in evidence-based discovery, not political expediency.
In a shameful yet unsurprising probability, President Bush threatened to veto this bill. That would be his first veto in his 5½ years in the Oval Office. Correct decision, wrong reason. I guess by now I should expect that the good things in this administration are mere accidents of circumstance. So be it.
¹ Please read the comments for a better discussion of point number two.