Creating yet another setback for the right-to-life crowd (and another personal disappointment with his presidency), President Obama lifted President Bush's executive restrictions on embryonic stem cell research Monday. Obama's staff says the move is guided by science instead of political ideology.
That's not true. Not entirely.
If stem cell research were truly motivated by science, more funds and resources would be funneled toward adult stem cell research -- stem cells that can be harvested harmlessly -- instead of embryonic cells, which destroy the days-old embryo. Adult cells have been proven many times over to be useful in treating some diseases.
In contrast, embryonic cells are largely unproven. There are great assumptions that these cell lines might lead to cures for debilitating diseases such as Parkinson's disease, or restoration of functions for paraplegics such as the late Christopher Reeve. However, that's all they are -- assumptions.
In fact, one very recent published study shows that embryonic cells might prove a titanic health hazard rather than a healer (here's a hopefully working link to the study: http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000029). Embryonic cells injected into a young male neuromuscular disease patient were found to have created several tumors in his spinal cord and brain four years later.
Indeed, this shouldn't come as a great surprise, since animal research on embryonic cells have also shown that the injected cells often go out of control. Let me rephrase all that plainly: the SCIENCE shows that embryonic cells are risky. Yet the Obama administration claims to be motivated BY science to pursue cures.
Obama advisers say that they're reversing the previous administration's adherence to dogma. They've got it half-right; this new president is instituting a reversal. Unfortunately, he's merely replaced one dogma for another: where Bush was following a dogma that regarded, at least to some degree, embryos as life to be protected and not harvested for ever-dimming hopes of miracle cures, Obama seems to be beholden to the pro-choice dogma that regards an unwanted, pre-born child as expendable.
It's a position no less dogmatic but far more destructive. Is it worth creating and disposing of millions of very young humans to try -- and, if the early research is any clue, likely fail -- to cure these diseases? ...Especially since they appear to have just as much potential to CREATE new diseases.
When one considers that some of these discarded kids may have been destined to truly discover safe and effective cures to the same diseases we may be vainly slaughtering them to find...well, it's a bitter irony. And one we really ought not be tasting.