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Remember in June of 2001 when President Bush announced his plan for federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research? He announced federal dollars could be used to fund research on existing stem-cell lines because the embryos were already destroyed. He drew the line in the sand by saying no additional embryos would be destroyed for stem-cell research using our tax dollars.
It was supposed to be an acceptable compromise between opponents and proponents of this ethically challenged research. Of course, neither side was very happy. The left was appalled by the limitations. The right was concerned about giving the left a proverbial toehold that would lead to an eventual foothold on federal money for human experimentation.
As predicted, proponents now claim the president’s stem-cell policy is handcuffing our nation’s top scientists, restricting medical research and holding back cures from our loved ones. They also claim that the stem-cell lines available for federal research dollars are inferior to the stem-cell lines created after August 2001.
This has led to H.R. 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005. This bill is intended to overturn the Bush policy restricting government funding of ESCR. It is expected to come up for a vote in the House in the next two weeks. And according to D.C. insiders, it is also expected to pass with bipartisan support.
Since passing this bill will overturn the Bush policy, proponents are especially bragging about the Republican support. The bill has 23 Republican co-sponsors in the House, and some polls suggest that GOPers across the country are backing the research. Opponents naturally counter with polls of their own. All of which means more education on ESCR is needed – particularly in D.C.
News Flash – After 20 years of research, embryonic stem cells haven’t cured a single lab rat. They haven’t been used to treat people because the cells are unproven and unsafe. They tend to produce tumors, cause transplant rejection and form the wrong kinds of cells.
By stark contrast, adult stem cells have treated over 58 diseases in human patients in published clinical studies. Some of the most startling advancements have come in treating Parkinson’s disease, juvenile diabetes, and spinal cord injuries. That’s right Christopher Reeves fans, people treated with adult stem cells are regaining the use of their legs.
Right here at home, at least three young American women, Laura Dominguez, Susan Fajt and Melissa Holley, who suffered paralysis resulting from spinal cord injuries, regained muscle control thanks to a procedure using adult stem cells taken from their own noses.
Incredibly, Dominguez and Fajt are walking with assistance. Holley has so far regained bladder control and arm and leg movement. Additionally, umbilical cord blood cells were used in South Korea to treat a woman who had been paralyzed for19 years. She can now walk with braces.
Despite these remarkable advances using adult and umbilical cord stem cells, a large segment of the population remains focused on the hyped up embryonic stem cells. Why?
Big biotech wants patentable discoveries that will make them rich. Scientists simply want to conduct research unfettered by the ethical constraints. And abortionists don’t want to lose any political ground for their cause, which demands the unborn be treated as an expendable commodity.
But ESCR is unethical and unnecessary. That makes it a bad investment for our tax dollars.
Now, I know what many of you are thinking. I have gotten many e-mails that suggest I care more about the fetus then those suffering around me, and that my obsession with the fetus is standing in the way of your cures.
First of all, the fetus is alive and human. No one walking among us has any more value than those who haven’t been born. If you think your life is more valuable than someone else’s, you need a reality check.
Secondly, I want to assure readers that I long to see cures developed as much as anyone. My husband’s best friend is paralyzed from a biking accident. My grandmother died of Parkinson’s disease. My father died at 50 of cancer, and my daughter born just two months ago has a genetic disorder. So before you fire off an e-mail to me about how callous my position is, get a firm grip on the facts.
Lastly, take a moment to recognize how Washington politics work and where this road of human experimentation will lead. Even though Bush’s stem-cell policy was a decent compromise, it appears it let the nose of the camel into the tent, and camels don’t generally walk backwards. Think about it.
All that said, I do take some comfort knowing those who invest in this research will likely go as bankrupt as their morals. My prediction is that this whole debate will simply go away with time because this research won’t pan out – anymore than the big push and pursuit of fetal tissue research in the 1980s. The question is: “How many lives will be sacrificed in the process?”