Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Why can't proponents of embryonic stem cell research funding be honest?

Macht points me to this article by Ronald Bailey on President Bush's veto of a bill to increase the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Macht addresses Bailey's old and tired fire in the IVF clinic argument but I'd like to again point out how proponents of increased funding for embryonic stem cell research seemingly can't write a column without being intentionally deceptive.

Bailey writes, "Bush used the first veto of his presidency to block a bill that would have permitted federal funding for embryonic stem cells."

Bailey is well aware that Bush has already allowed federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. This bill would have expanded the federal funding not permitted it since it already is "permitted" to the tune of millions a year as Bailey knows. In the column above (from August of 2005), Bailey even questions whether researchers need money from the federal government considering how much money has been invested by states and private institutions.

Bailey continues, "According to some estimates, there are as many as 400,000 excess embryos frozen in U.S. fertility clinics. The vast majority of these spare embryos will simply be tossed out unless they are used for stem cell research."

Except for the fact the vast majority won't be thrown out. The vast majority, close to 90%, are being reserved for future attempts at initiating a pregnancy. Only small fractions, 2.2% and 2.8%, of these human embryos are marked to be discarded or used in research, respectively.

Bailey also goes after the Fetus Farming bill.

"That act outlaws using tissues from human fetuses that were "deliberately initiated to provide such tissue(s)" or from human fetuses that were "gestated in the uterus of a nonhuman animal."

Sounds yucky, right? Of course, that's the point. They hope to make voters queasy about embryonic stem cell research by falsely linking it to an idea many people find repugnant. In reality, no researchers have proposed going forward with deriving tissues in this way. Outlawing fetal farming is purely about political science, not real science."

Except that a number of researchers have already worked on creating artificial wombs and implanting human embryos in them and New Jersey passed a law which made implanting a cloned human embryo legal. William Saletan, a writer for Slate, also discussed the possibility of this type of research here and here.

Over and over again, proponents of increased federal funding for embryonic stem cell research have difficulty being straightforward about the facts at hand. If their position on this issue is correct, then why do they continually try to deceive the American public?

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