Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Japanese Scientists: Embryonic Stem Cells can Treat Parkinson's

It was exciting to read that Japanese scientists are making headway with embryonic stem cells in the treatment of Parkinson's Disease. But what about America? Why aren't our scientists making strides against Parkinson's using stem cells?

Well perhaps it has something to do with our President who finds embryonic stem cell research repugnant, requiring federal support limits and restrictions. As he stated in the now famous August, 2001, speech on the subject from Crawford, Texas:
Research on embryonic stem cells raises profound ethical questions, because extracting the stem cell destroys the embryo, and thus destroys its potential for life.

Like a snowflake, each of these embryos is unique, with the unique genetic potential of an individual human being.

As I thought through this issue I kept returning to two fundamental questions. First, are these frozen embryos human life and therefore something precious to be protected? And second, if they're going to be destroyed anyway, shouldn't they be used for a greater good, for research that has the potential to save and improve other lives?

As President Bush concluded:
Embryonic stem cell research is at the leading edge of a series of moral hazards. The initial stem cell researcher was at first reluctant to begin his research, fearing it might be used for human cloning. Scientists have already cloned a sheep.

Researchers are telling us the next step could be to clone human beings to create individual designer stem cells, essentially to grow another you, to be available in case you need another heart or lung or liver.

I strongly oppose human cloning, as do most Americans. We recoil at the idea of growing human beings for spare body parts or creating life for our convenience.

And while we must devote enormous energy to conquering disease, it is equally important that we pay attention to the moral concerns raised by the new frontier of human embryo stem cell research. Even the most noble ends do not justify any means.

President Bush who has placed unreasonable limits on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research is simply uncomfortable with the entire area of research. He doesn't really care if these cells are destined for the garbage and are not viable in any realistic fashion. He is fixated on his narrow views of morality that don't preclude "shock and awe" bombing, relaxation of pollution, and even his incredible record of executions in Texas under his Governorship.

But what has John Kerry said on this issue? In the Second Presidential Debate, Kerry had this to say:
I know the morality that's prompting that question, and I respect it enormously. Chris Reeve is a friend of mine. Chris Reeve exercises every single day to keep those muscles alive for the day when he believes he can walk again, and I want him to walk again. I think we can save lives. Now, I think we can do ethically guided embryonic stem cell research. We have 100,000 to 200,000 embryos that are frozen in nitrogen today from fertility clinics. These weren't taken from abortion or something like that, they're from a fertility clinic, and they're either going to be destroyed or left frozen. It is respecting life to reach for that cure. It is respecting life to do it in an ethical way. Bush's chosen a policy that makes it impossible for our scientists to do that. I want the future, and I think we have to grab it.

John Kerry understands that morality is not always black and white. John Kerry knows that family planning assistance and condoms in Africa are the moral things to do to fight AIDS. George W. Bush cannot get past his fundamentalist blinders to act Presidential. John Kerry understands that scientific research to fight against crippling diseases is the moral thing to do. George W. Bush cannot get past his fundamentalist concepts of right and wrong to realize that utilizing primitive clumps of cells destined for the garbage heap to fight disease and relieve suffering is the moral decision.

Pull the sick, the ignorant, and the suffering from the water Senator Kerry. You did not let us down in 2004. We are ready to fight for you in 2008.



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