Stem Cell Update: Back to the Future?

Here's the state of play: President Bush limited federal research funding to human embryonic stem cell lines that had been derived before his speech to the nation on the topic in August, 2001. With considerable fanfare, President Obama lifted the Bush limits in April, 2009. In August, a federal district court judge issued an injunction against the Obama administration's stem cell policy declaring that it violated the the Dickey-Wicker Amendment which outlaws federal funding for the creation of human embryos for research purposes or for research in which human embryos are destroyed. In September, the DC federal circuit court temporarily stayed the injunction allowing federal funding for stem cell research to continue. The appeals court has not yet ruled finally on the issue.

Meanwhile, The Hill reports that legislation that would explicitly allow federal funding for stem cell lines derived from embryos discarded by fertility clinics is hung up in the lame duck session. If fails to pass this session, an appeals court ruling in favor the original injunction would mean that the Bush-era restrictions would be restored.

I will note that at long last the FDA is now allowing two privately funded clinical trials using human embryonic stem cells to go forward; one seeking to repair damaged spinal cords and another to restore sight.

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  • ||

    So the private sector did research without the government's money.

    So Ron are you going to flip flop on this issue yet or not?

  • ||

    Crap...i was too slow on hitting the stop loading page draw.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    All research should be done without the government's money.

  • Yonemoto||

    DARPA's probably constitutional, justifiable, if wasteful.

  • ||

    I will note that at long last the FDA is now allowing two privately funded clinical trials using human embryonic stem cells to go forward; one seeking to repair damaged spinal cords and another to restore sight.

    So the private sector did research without the government's money.

    So Ron are you going to flip flop on this issue yet or not?

  • ||

    jc: My chief concern has been efforts by Congress to outlaw this type of research entirely. For example, the Human Cloning Prohibition Act passed the House twice.

    On federal research funding, I am generally against it. That being said, assuming that funding should be allocated as effectively as possible, I think that government should not be making funding decisions based on religious beliefs.

  • Steve||

    When does life begin? When is a person a person?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I was told Bush outlawed stem cell research outright, and that's what I choose to believe.

  • ||

    Here's the state of play: President Bush limited federal research funding to human embryonic stem cell lines that had been derived before his speech to the nation on the topic in August, 2001.

    Even this is a bit incomplete. Under Clinton, federal research dollars were completely forbidden from going to embryonic stem cell research at all. Clinton initially moved to loosen the restrictions early in his term, but then reversed himself. Towards the end of his term in 2000, Clinton commissioned a report that came up with a plan to loosen the restrictions. It only announced the approval of stem cells from aborted fetuses.

    If fails to pass this session, an appeals court ruling in favor the original injunction would mean that the Bush-era restrictions would be restored.

    As opposed to the even more restrictive Bush I or Clinton restrictions, yes.

  • ||

    Ah, one of those wedge issues for libertarians. Some are going to say that "as long as it isn't banned, I'm not going to get upset about the government not funding it."

    Others fall into the "regardless of my feelings about the rightness of research in general, government shouldn't be choosing what to fund based on these sorts of arbitrary ethical principles."

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    It seems that latter category could be described alternately as the more pragmatic or less principled group (depending on how favorably you view that kind of thing). "Since the State is going to spend taxpayer dollars to fund research anyway, we shouldn't limit it to research to which an arguably significant number of taxpayers don't strongly object."

  • MJ||

    With "arbitrary ethical principles" being defined as "ethical principles I do not agree with".

  • ||

    We need an issue to unite the masses, and I think this issue is going to be that nutrition for kids bill that is snaking its way through congress. This shit needs to be killed, stat! Nobody least of all government can tell me what to feed my kids, or tell me what to eat! A lot of GOP types feel the same way. Michelle Malkin has been all over this. But you know who else does? Heavy set urban blacks and latinos, thats who.

    Libertarians and Tea Party Patriots need to reach out to heavy-set urbanites on this issue. This is bull shit! Plain spoken common politicians who fight the elites need to understand that common people come in many different colors. They need to stop ignoring heavy-set urbanites who listen to rap or soul instead of country, and they need to realize that no one likes to be told WHAT THEY CAN OR CAN'T EAT! Liberal city politicans who are black just don't get this - not a chance in hell they will fight this. Someone from the Tea Party or Libertarians needs to step up!

    This stem cell stuff is a non-starter. What the fuck does it even mean? Maybe if you're a scientist or you have the money for genetic splicing it matters, but it means zero to everybody else.

    Find an issue everybody can relate to - like NOT BEING TOLD WHAT THE FUCK TO EAT BY THE FEDERAL GOVT! Hey Michelle Obama, get out of my god damned food hutch!

  • ||

    I pity your family.

  • ||

    Why? Because I love my family enough to want them to enjoy eating? Big Govt is about killing joy wherever it finds it, not because it makes sense or improves life for anyone, but because it satisfies a void in the hearts and minds of the governing classes. They can't enjoy themselves even with exotic pleasures like trips to Europe, fancy cars, educations, etc so they try to kill the joy me and mine find in simple things like BBQ pork steak, toasted ravs, soda, cigs, White Castle. Fuck them!

    The sooner people learn to draw a line in the sand around the "small things" like freedom to enjoy food and cigs, the less traction the nanny state will have on those more abstract things. If you want to break a man's spirit kill the things he loves - abstractions like "stem cell research" and "tax cuts for the richest 1%" don't mean shit to 99% of the population. They already killed motorsports (you have to wear a helmut in Missouri now when you ride a ATV) and they've made buying a dirtbike for kids under 12 a CRIME! Where are the libertarians on the issues that matter? (crickets) That's why libertarians are a fringe movement. I'm just trying to say - hey, theyre are people out here in flyover country that give a shit about this stuff! BECAUSE IT MATTERS!

  • ||

    I guess the question is does the bill control what your kids eat at home, or just what the government feeds that at school.

    I'm opposed to the first, and totally ok with the second.

    Why should we feed poor kids a bunch of junk food, and then turn around and pay for thier healthcare.

  • ||

    Because those "poor kids" families pay local taxes and help support the school with their time and effort - the school belongs to the community! For the govt to step in and say "we're going to take money out of of TANF and food stamps to pay for bland, shitty, sad sack food for your kids to eat" is just going to force a bunch of hard working, working poor people to spend even more of their meagre funds on food that their kids will eat. If I have to pack a lunch I know my kid will eat, then I will. And it pisses me off knowing that the govt. is robbing me to do it, because good, non shitty food when you are at school should be a given.

    Also, the health cost argument is total BULLSHIT! If I die 2 or 3 years before some skinny fuck who lead a joyless life, so what? The healthcare cost argument is a device to control behavior. Well here's a fact that might be hard to wrestle with - 2/3rds of this country is considered OVERWEIGHT! But who's doing the considering? A bunch of elite, skinny sissies?!? Michelle Obama?!?

    People should be free to eat what they want. Period!

  • ||

    I'm aware of schools districts were 70+% of the kids are obese. This is causing health problems with them NOW, not in 70 years.

    If our tax money is being used to pay for their lunches, then FUCK YEAH it should be healthy.

    Why pay to fatten them, and then pay again for healthcare.

    If they kids are hungry they will eat it. If not, then they won't.

    I can buy the idea we don't want kids starving so we pay for thier lunches, but that's no reason to serve them junk food.

    Like you said, you don't like it, then parents can provide thier own lunch.

  • ||

    Your use of the phrase "heavy-set urbanites", that's why I pity your family. Only an idiot would think there aren't fat people in non-urban settings.

  • Spoonman.||

    Stop spamming, jesus.

  • ||

    You are an idiot. No offense intended.

  • ||

    Really doesn't matter, all the breakthroughs are coming with stem cells that aren't from embryo's

    This is just another disctraction.

  • Wind Rider||

    True - most of the folks hot and bothered about this seemed to act like it was the only way to get from point a to point b wrt stem cell research. When scientists started looking around and found stem cell possibilities in all sorts of other places besides human fetuses, you'd think that would have been the end of the whole thing, which at this point just seems like an effort to poke SoCons in the eye just to watch them squirm. Not that doing so can't be entertaining, per se, but what's the fucking point?

    It's well nigh time to move on to stage II of the argument, which doesn't involve roasted dead babies on a stick - it's the squealing and clamoring about what and/or how big a clump of artificially generated clumps of cells begins to set of the fundies' spidy sense that we're running down the road to cloning, or some such other imagined moralistic travesty, and whether or not to tell them to piss off because they're just being silly at such a point.

  • ||

    K: It is almost certainly the case that that none of the hopeful new research to which you are referring would be occurring now without the prior research on human embryonic stem cells.

  • Wind Rider||

    Or, another way of looking at it, may not have been explored as vigorously without some folks putting their hands up and saying "uhm, wait a sec here. . ."

    And if there is a methodology available that avoids ethical and moralistic land mines, that's usually a better course, just for convenience, unless the whole point is to piss people off, even, or especially, if you don't agree with them.

  • ||

    Ron,

    That might be true. Perhaps, I should have said

    "it really doesn't matter NOW"

    Although, I imagine we would have eventually made the progress embryo stem cells or not.

  • ||

    WR: The research had to come before the objections, but you may well be right about the ultimate result of that dynamic.

  • Meiczyslaw||

    In the meantime, research has moved forward enough that folks have figured out ways to repurpose cells without the intermediate step of stem cells.

    See: http://www.lifenews.com/2010/11/29/bio-3220/

  • don margolis||

    SCIENCE, NOT RELIGION!
    All the arguments pro and con miss the only point that matters: embryonic stem cells have never worked, do not work now, and will not help any patient alive today.
    For some of the reasons why, http://repairstemcells.org/Com.....-Tale.aspx

    Starting 1/1/2004, Pharma-controlled politicians, medical scientists, major newspapers in every major city, CBS News, and major medical journals do exactly what Pharma tells them to do: DENY that thousands of patients, 1700 scientific papers and 1300 clinical trials prove that adult stem cells work NOW. “Adult stem cells are unproven,” they scream, and corrupt medical writers never write a word about that outrageous lie.

    Writers will NEVER say a word about the embryonic hoax, that the faux-scientists have slaughtered tens of thousands of lab rats trying to pretend they don’t cause cancer while ignoring the fact that a human patient’s immune system will start a war the minute those deadly cells are implanted into a patient.

    That is how Pharma keeps the suffering patients from complaining they can't get treatments...just lie and say it is unproven and pretend the church is at fault.

    Don Margolis, Chairman
    Repair Stem Cell Institute

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