Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Trying to add clarity the Stem Cell issue

Last night, Charles Krauthammer, on Special Report w/Brit Hume, expressed his indignation that John Edwards would use the occasion of Christopher Reeve's death to imply that Mr. Reeve was kept paralyzed in a wheel chair because of the Bush Administration.

So, a couple points to clear up:

President Bush is the first President to approve federal funding on Embryonic Stem Cell Research. Democrats like to say he "banned" it. He didn't. What he did was restrict it for the time being. He said that the currently existing 70 lines of embryonic stem cells could be used for federally funded research. He hasn't definitively said we couldn't get anymore, just that we are starting with these for now. It should be noted that there are only 22 lines being worked on, so it's not as if they are running out.
(This was Point #1 in my list of comments following the 2nd Presidential Debate)

Kerry Spot has Charles' Quote:
Columnist Charles Krauthammer: "I've heard a lot of hype over the last 30 years about the keys to the kingdom here in this issue. And all of them have proved false. For Edwards to make the claims he did is the worst demagoguery I've heard in Washington in a quarter century. To imply that Christopher Reeve was kept in the wheelchair because of the policies of the Bush administration on stem cells is ridiculous and insulting" ("Special Report," FNC, 10/11).

It's true of course that that doesn't mean nothing will come of it in the future, but it seems outrageous that John Edwards would say that people will walk again if we elect John Kerry as if throwing billions of dollars into destroying embryos for embryonic stem cell research is a sure way to cure them.

But I found something else interesting: Krauthammer said that there were thousands of stem cell lines waiting for research. The President has not restricted the abilities of private organizations to do research. Instead of spending so much money trying to get the government to do the research, where the levels of bureaucracy are amazingly complex, why not raise money for private funding? I'm solicited all the time for contributions to private research for heart disease and cancer, but I've never once been asked for money for stem cell research. If it is as well supported by Americans as television commentators claim and it is such a large election issue and if rich people like Michael J. Fox are so in favor of it, why can't they raise the money to do the research?

It's true that I don't have extensive knowledge about this issue - after all, I'm a physicist not a biologist. I'm just applying my common sense to the facts available. Perhaps someone can point me in the right direction to help me answer these questions.

In the meantime, we need to remember the facts.
President Bush has not banned stem cell research of any kind.
He has limited the amount of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, but he was the first president to provide any funding at all.
Most importantly: Private institutions are free to spend as much money and do as much embryonic stem cell research as they would like.