Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A First for Everything

Of all the things to consider as a first veto, a veto of expanding embryonic stem-cell research is President Bush's first choice. Hey, it's his choice, but I don't have to agree with it. I don't think this was the right time or place for a first veto, not when there was McCain Feingold that should have been axed for being an abomination against free speech, or any of the many spending plans or new programs proffered by Congress that were fiscally irresponsible.

I really don't have a dog in the fight on embryonic stem cell research. I've heard the supporters say that if only the feds gave us more money, we'd be able to get stuff done, while detractors have said that the money is going down the toilet and that researchers are focusing on adult stem cells because they've already had success in that area.

In medical research, success can come from pretty much anywhere - including serendipity and good fortune (see the discovery of penicillin for instance). So, as a general principle, I would have someone look into whether this might lead to successful treatments. It might never produce results, but we might gain technological prowess and techniques that can help down the road.

However, I note that there are those, including the President, who have sought to limit the funding for embryonic stem cells on a moral or ethical basis because it involves the destruction of a human life (as they've defined it from conception). They might have a point, although embryos that are not used in in-vitro fertilization are routinely destroyed. Such embryos that are discarded from IVF facilities could be used in stem cell research and provide opportunities to scientists that have to date been unsuccessful in their efforts. This situation (using IVF discarded embryros) doesn't necessarily render the moral and ethical objection to using embryonic stem cells for research moot, but it certainly appears to undermine it.

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