Protect and Defend

Welcome to my blog, Protect and Defend. You don’t have to understand me. You only have to agree with me. I can live with losing the good fight, but I can not live with not fighting that good fight at all. - Publius

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Stem Cell Research

Ok so the President used his first veto in 5 years in office to veto a bill to allow embryonic stem cell research. On the news they said it was to pander to his conservative base. As a conservative, can someone tell me why I am supposed to be against stem cell research? When you put Michael J. Fox as the spokesperson for stem cell research, how am I supposed to be against it? I have never claimed to be a scientist or biologist or a geneticist so maybe I am missing something here, but what is wrong with using these embryonic stem cells if they are most likely going to be discarded anyhow and yet they have the potential to save millions of lives.

16 Comments:

Blogger betmo said...

at the risk of 'labelling' people as i am wont to do- i have a feeling that these folks got the name wrong. it is the religious conservatives or whatever they call themselves who are against stem cells. no- i don't think that that is a fair characterization either- it is the far, far right zealots who are against stem cell research. i think that anyone who has an ounce of human common sense can see that stem cell research is not the same as abortion.

Thu Jul 20, 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger quakerdave said...

betmo: That was the key phrase - "common sense."

It's not about abortion, either. Like most things "religious right," it has to do with power.

Thu Jul 20, 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger Brooke said...

Here it is as I understand it: Embryonic stem cell are far more difficult to harvest and utilize than adult stem cells. Adult stem cells, incidentally, do not necessarily come from adults, rather, they come from a more developed human. A good example would be the blood from an umbilical cord cut at birth. It is chock full of "adult" stem cells.

Embryonic stem cells, apart from being difficult to isolate and harvest, have the nasty tendency to cause cancer: Once put next to the organ they are desired to become, they multiply uncontrollably.(Thus, causing cancer.) Adult stem cells do not seem to do this as much.

Another aspect is that adult stem cells are usually banked at birth, and would therefore already be a biological part from the intended recipient, making them completely biologically compatible. Embryonic stem cells must by default be from someone else, and have the tendency to be "rejected" from a recipient body, much in the same way that a donor heart, kidney, liver, ect. would be, necessitating imuno-repressant "anti-rejection" drugs for the rest of the recipient's life. These drugs obviously make it impossible to lead a normal life, and can also increase the risk of cancer in the patient.

Of course, all of these examples were taken from animal experimentation.

My beef with embryonic stem cell research, (apart from the aforementioned things) is that it turns human life into a commodity to be bought, sold, used and discarded. That is morally reprehensible.

Thu Jul 20, 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

Ok so are there two different types of stem cells then?

Betmo and QD, as Brooke has explained this more than anyone else has, and given me more information that I previously knew about the topic. I would venture to guess that if stem cells from an umbilical cord can be used and are better than embryonic stem cells then I can see myself being in favor of using the umbilical cord as opposed to a human embryo which can become a human being.
Science is a bit conflicting with religion here as – on a personal note not religious doctrine – I am conflicted about the religiosity of an embryo. An embryo in some sort of test-tube can not spontaneously become a life so I have trouble saying that it is a “life,” but it could become a life and therefore it would have a specific genetic code and that embryo would become an individual and thus Brooke would be accurate that this would be tantamount to buying and selling oh human life.

I still need more info. I don’t want to see like wasted be it an unborn child or a sick person. If we know an embryo only has a “shelf-life” of only s long before it can not loner become a child and yet would still be valuable to stem cell research then I do not see a problem with using it for research rather than it being wasted. But otherwise I feel a bit against using embryos as some sort of spare parts junkyard.

Thu Jul 20, 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Publius,
I go back and forth on this topic. I think my ambivalence comes from the fact that my mother-in-law is suffering from mid-stage Alzheimer's. It's ugly.

But I do think that stem-cell research is a slippery slope. I keep remembering Huxley's Brave New World.

Aren't umbilical-cord cells more promising than embryonic stem-cells?

Addendum: I don't think that GWB is pandering for votes. I believe that he has a faith-based conviction on this matter.

Thu Jul 20, 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

Well like I said, if umbilical cords are better than we should use those, but if an embryo enters the stage where it can no longer be used to create life and it can still be useful for research I think if anything that is anti-Christian to not use that embryo to help save lives.

Thu Jul 20, 10:54:00 PM  
Blogger quakerdave said...

The overwhelming number of frozen embryos that we have now will be discarded. As in thrown into the trash. better they be used to help find a cure for my sister's MS than tossed in the garbage.

I'd like to know where you got the information that "proves" that embryonic stem cells cause cancer or are prone to rejection. Maybe from Mr. Dobson's web site?

Thu Jul 20, 11:17:00 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

QD, we agree on this. My only addition is that I would rather see these frozen embryos become actual living and breathing people. Once that is no longer an option they should be used for research.
As for the basis of the information, it was not mine so I don’t know.

Thu Jul 20, 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger betmo said...

it is my understanding that embryos are a cluster of cells that have the potential to turn into any human cells but once the divide to a certain extent become a fetus. that is a extremely simplistic version of what i know- as i am not a molecular biologist or geneticist- and that is why scientists want to use them in their research. these embryos will be discarded whether anyone likes it or not and i guess i wonder where the outrage lies in that? we can't use them for research purposes because they could become humans but we can discard them into the trash with no compunction. huh.

Fri Jul 21, 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

Betmo, I agree with you and QD on this even as a religious social conservative. I have only added the caveat.

Fri Jul 21, 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger Bobkatt said...

One thing not often mentioned is that it is not against the law to perform embryonic stem cell research in this country. The President at this time doesn't want to pay for it. That said, there are things the government pays for that all of us disagree with aren't there. I personally don't think the prez. should have used his first veto ever on this issue. I think we should research all avenues of medical research such as stem cells and marijuana. However, I also respect the crowd that is leary of "playing God" with respect to cloning and manipulating embryos for spare parts.
I would say to those who are adament on this issue to lobby their representatives to over turn the veto or seek private funding. This seems like a very lucrative field if it actually provided any of the miracles that the proponents claim and should attract private funding from deep pocket charities. Why look to the government for everything?

Sat Jul 22, 03:12:00 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

The funding does not have to be from the government or charities. The drug companies know that if they come up with something and then patent their discoveries that they are poised to make millions if not more. Luckily the government does everything they can to protect the drug companies, so the first one to make a discovery will be in for a windfall the likes of which haven’t been seen since Viagra.
Perhaps with government funding the drug companies would be unable to patent any discoveries. Is this maybe the real reason behind the veto? I would hate to think this was a “ploy” or “pander” to the Christian Right when it was in fact a protection of the drug companies.

Sat Jul 22, 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger quakerdave said...

Nobody I have heard is advocating human cloning of any kind in relationship to this debate, any more than they were discussing that phony "fetal farming" nonsense that the decider signed into law the day he vetoed this bill. That slippery-slope illogic won't hold up.

And every time we drop a bomb on someone's head, or sell bombs to other people to drop on someone's head, we're "playing God," too. Funny how I never hear that discussed, though.

Sun Jul 23, 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

Sorry QD but I have to 100% disagree with your comment there. Dropping bombs is not playing God; that is playing man. God does not drop bombs, God does not make bombs, and God does not make bombs to sell to other to drop bombs. Those are the actions of man.

Sun Jul 23, 10:38:00 PM  
Blogger quakerdave said...

The actions of men who have decided that they have the right to determine who lives and who dies. Isn't that the definition of "playing God"?

Mon Jul 24, 10:49:00 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

QD, if deciding who lives and who lies is the actions of God than God has a much more active role in our lives and a much more important role in our lives than many would believe. If our lives are predetermined by God and man has no influence on his or anyone else’s outcome, than shouldn’t we be living more according to God’s teachings than we are?

Tue Jul 25, 01:43:00 AM  

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