Skip to comments.The (Political) Science of Stem Cells: Far from banning research, Bush is expanding federal funding
Posted on 08/12/2004 2:11:21 AM PDT by pookie18
You might not know about it from listening to the news lately, [but] the President also looks forward to medical breakthroughs that may arise from stem cell research. Few people know that George W. Bush is the only President to ever authorize federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
--Laura Bush The First Lady was way too polite: The way stem cells have been reported, you'd think we were in a new Dark Ages, with government-backed religious inquisitors threatening scientists on the cusp of life-saving treatments.
Reinforcing this misimpression are the headlines and commentators talking up a "ban" on research. "First lady Laura Bush defends ban on stem-cell research" is how the Philadelphia Inquirer spun Mrs. Bush's talk. A sampling of other headlines shows the Inquirer is far from alone: "Rethink the stem-cell ban" (Des Moines Register); "Stem cell ban stays, despite Reagan pleas" (Newark Star-Ledger); "Kerry says he'd reverse stem cell ban" (The Grand Rapids Press); "Kerry 'would lift stem cell ban' "(BBC), and on and on. You get the drift.
(Excerpt) Read more at opinionjournal.com ...
What stem cell ban?
SOME ADDITIONAL POINTS:
The problem is that the drift is wrong. As Mrs. Bush gently reminded her audience in Pennsylvania this week, far from banning embryonic stem cell research, George W. Bush is the first President to expand federal funding for it. The nearby table shows that, as a result of his decision, federal funding went from zero in 2000 to nearly $25 million today -- and this doesn't include the many tens of millions more being spent by the private sector. As Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson points out, the supply of embryonic stem cell shipments available is today greater than the demand.
In other words, this is not, as Ron Reagan characterized it during his prime time slot at the Democratic convention, a battle between "reason and ignorance." It's an argument about taxpayer money and how to draw the lines around it.
On the whole this would be a healthy debate for America to have. But the Kerry campaign seems more interested in politicizing the issue by continuing to advance claims for a ban that simply does not exist. Typical was the press release by the campaign Web site this week entitled "Edwards Calls for an End to Stem Cell Ban and a Return to Scientific Excellence in America."
All these people know better. The issue is federal subsidies. The need for a Presidential decision arose from an appropriations rider passed by Congress in the mid-1990s forbidding federal funding for any research that creates, injures or destroys human embryos.
Plainly this is one of those subjects that involves clashes of goods, in this case the sanctity of human life versus the needs of scientific research. The best way to resolve the issue of taxpayer funding is to let the American people make that decision themselves, through their elected representatives. And dealing, we hope, with the science -- not just the Kerry campaign sound bites.
I was just saying that there is no ban on embryonic stem cell research. There are federal funding restrictions, but those aren't the same as a ban.
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