Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stem Cell Research

Recently President Obama signed an executive order reversing the order of former President Bush restricting federal funds from being used by scientists who are studying embryonic stem cells. This was quite an issue eight years ago when Bush allowed scientists to use existing lines of embryonic stem cells, but forbade any new ones being used for research if federal money was involved. Now our new President has reversed that situation.

The reaction from conservatives has been quite interesting. They still maintain that a microscopic collection of stem cells is the same as human life and must therefore be protected. What they seem to ignore is that the embryos in question come from fertility clinics and if not used for research will simply be discarded. I find it worrisome that conservatives are much more concerned about protecting the life of an embryo than they are about protecting an actual human life. There was no conservative outcry, for example, when American mercenaries brutally murdered Iraqi civilians simply to clean out an intersection in Baghdad in preparation for American dignitaries to drive through in their limousines.

A second reaction has been the insistence by conservatives that embryonic stem cells are no longer needed or valuable for scientific use. They claim that the better science is using adult stem cells. From my perspective, they should let scientists decide what is the best resource for experimentation. This is not something a philosopher can determine. Thankfully, for those of us who are affected by certain neurological ailments, there is now some hope that eventually there will be a breakthrough and cures will be found. I realize it may not be in my lifetime, but I think our government should encourage scientists to move ahead at full speed.

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