Stem Celling

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The good news:

Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican supporter of embryonic stem-cell research, said Sunday there is wide support in the Senate to ease the Bush administration's restrictive policy.

Hatch said supporters have more than the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster,

The bad news:

but he's unsure whether Congress would act "in this hot political atmosphere."

The story.

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  1. No, Hannah, the real “bad news” is that the federal government has any say in what my money is spent on. But, I suppose, that’s what happens when we, the people, here in the land of the “free”, are such fucking cowards that we lay down and don’t so much as wimper as the government robs us of half of our earned wealth, then sits around all day debating over how to waste it.

    In a “free” country, I could choose whether or not I would like to donate my money towards stem-cell research. But instead, we have concentrated the wealth, and allowed the whims (fundamentalist, evangelical, or otherwise) of our “leaders” to dictate how it should be spent.

    On the 4th, I cringe, hearing everyone declare how “free” we are, how “liberty” is so important.

  2. No, the real “bad news” is that the government gets to make this decision in the first place. Give back the 50% of my income that you stole, and let me decide whether or not to donate (invest) in stem cell research. And Orrin Hatch and George Bush and all the rest of them can do the same…decide how to spend THEIR OWN money, not mine.

  3. Ah, screw this. I hit post, it didn’t post, and I refreshed a couple times, I thought I’d lost it, so I posted a new one. Sorry, no, I’m not THAT dumb…

  4. Is this the same Orrin Hatch? Doesn’t he know that all those stem cells are potential bodies for Heavenly Father’s spirit-babies?

  5. I don’t understand the libertarian position on stem cell research.

    GWB hasn’t outlawed stem cell research, he has set limits on what stem cell research qualifies for federal funding.

    You can donate all the money you have to stem cell research, there are no laws to stop you.

    I would expect libertarians to be happy that federal funds aren’t spent on another project that lies outside of the government’s responsibilities.

    So, why is it good news that Orrin Hatch wants to spend more federal funds on stem cell research??

  6. The good news is Cartman goes into the stem-cell business on tonight’s “South Park”.

  7. Checks and balances are for suckas.

  8. bJ,

    My opinion on the issue that I know at least some other people here share (although I don’t necessarily think it’s specifically libertarian or anti-libertarian) is that the gov’t should use good science to determine how stem cells (meaning embryonic, here and throughout) are treated relative to other research areas. Like it or not, we’ve already got a system of federal funding for research in a wide range of areas, including a lot of money for biotech (and funding stem cells wouldn’t necessarily mean an increase in overall federal funding, but rather just a shuffling around of the money). The decision of whether the potential benefits of stem cell therapy justify use of that funding on stem cell research should be made based on the best scientific evidence, not religious claims. (At least a couple people who post here and claim to know a fair bit about it say stem cell funding isn’t justified based on scientific evidence. My impression is that it’s too early to say that, and the potential there warrants further attention; but I’m certainly no expert on the subject and will defer to someone who is. The point is that the decision should be made based on the science.)

    On an earlier thread I likened it to the gay marriage issue; many people don’t support gay marriage because the gov’t doesn’t have any business recognizing anyone’s marriage. My feeling is that, like it or not, the gov’t is already pretty well entrenched in that business; and there’s no legitimate reason for the gov’t to not recognize gay marriage if it’s already recognizing straight marriage. Likewise, unless we’re going to completely do away with gov’t funding of science (which I think would be a mistake, but that’s a discussion for a related thread), we’ve got to decide somehow what science to fund. Those decisions should be based on hard scientific evidence, not religious claims about souls, the beginning of life, etc.

  9. It’s bad enough that the government is funding basic scientific research, but it certainly doesn’t need to be funding research that many people feel is based on infanticide.

    REASON is linking to this article because they agree with the Bush administration, right?

  10. So, why is it good news that Orrin Hatch wants to spend more federal funds on stem cell research??-bJ

    Two semi-related reasons:

    1. Stem cell research is science and no mere ethical concern can be allowed to slow the progress of science.

    2. Stem cell research is primarily opposed by pro-lifers, and pro-lifers are largely religious folk and religious people are the incarnation of of all that is bad to a certain large contingent of libertarians. Therefore, a good libertarian cannot be seen to be on the pro-life side of any issue, even if the conclusion conforms to libertarian ideology.

  11. When they start offering me my ‘no more stem cell research’ tax refund, I’ll start opposing stem cell research.

    Until then, I’d rather my money be spent on basic research than, say, subsidies to hostile foreign powers or fat welfare payments to agribusiness.

    They’ve already taken my money. I’m not getting it back. Given that reality, I’d prefer it be applied to uses I find valuable.

  12. “Those decisions should be based on hard scientific evidence, not religious claims about souls, the beginning of life, etc.”-J

    Why is it a religious claim to say that a human embryo should be granted human dignity and not be viewed as a raw material, but it is not a religious claim to say that a twenty-year old (or ten-year old, five-year old, 1-year old, 1-day old) should be? The question is the same: is this classification of human worthy of respect?

    If the question for embryos is religious and therefore impermissable for the government to decide on then that must be true for all such question, at all ages. That conclusion, of course, calls into question whether anyone has a claim to rights that the government is bound to respect or protect, which is an unacceptable logical result. The casual dismissmal of “religious claims” is not a serious argument, it is merely a rhetorical bludgeon to silence a viewpoint that the pro-stem cell research side does not like.

  13. Why is it a religious claim to say that a human embryo should be granted human dignity and not be viewed as a raw material, but it is not a religious claim to say that a twenty-year old (or ten-year old, five-year old, 1-year old, 1-day old) should be?

    You can’t be serious. When I chop an apple in half, there are seeds in the middle. Seeds. Not apple trees. If you plant said seed in fertile ground then it can become a tree but potentiality does not equal actuality. The same goes for embryoes. An embryo is just a human seed. It can become a human but it is not human. It’s as simple as saying that an apple seed is not a tree. Ask any six-yeal-old. “Is this a tree?” “No, it’s a seed.” Period. Unless, of course, you actually lend credence to what a 2000-year-old book says about an invisible man who lives in sky.

    Nothing should stand in the way of science; government and religion, least of all.

  14. An embryo is just a human seed. It can become a human but it is not human. It’s as simple as saying that an apple seed is not a tree.

    Ah, but what if that seed has germinated?

    Look, I am moderately pro-choice. I don’t think viability is a proper place to draw the line at human personhood, as we have had too many case of extraordinarily premature fetuses being removed from their mothers’ wombs and treated for serious medical problems in intensive care facilities. As a scientific, rather than religious, question, I ask “at what point during the growth of a conceptus does its brain develop to the point of, if not actual cognition, than feeling?” This is why late-term abortion bothers me. We do things to a 30-week old fetus that we wouldn’t countenance being done to a puppy. I’ve got siblings who exited the womb two months prematurely. If they had spent an additional six weeks inside Mom, would they have been less human?

    I don’t agree with the “no abortion, no how, no way, no when” folks who oppose all fetal stem cell research, but they have a valid beef. Their tax money would be going to support what they consider an abomination. Why is that so easy to dismiss?

    Nothing should stand in the way of science

    Are you sure you want to say nothing? No ethical restraints can halt the scientific juggernaut, nor constitutional ones?

    Kevin

  15. Matt,

    If embryos aren’t human, but twenty-year-olds are, there must be some point in between when a non-human thing becomes human (since all 20-year-olds were once embryos).

    Do you know when that happens? If so, you’ve outdone every philosopher in history, since none have managed to come up with an objective, non-arbitrary “age of humanity” after conception. If not, can you be so sure that embryos are truly not human?

  16. People will put up with a lot of stupidity, even tyranny, from their governments. Tax money spent on research done on animals didn’t use to be controversial. There arose an anti-vivisectionist movement, and now we have not only people who oppose “animal cruelty”, but advocate for “animal rights” (sic). When and if this misguided sentiment becomes influential enough, whether the government should fund research that harms or destroys animals will become a serious issue.

    Research done on the living product of human conception is different in kind from animal research. Animal rights whackos may disagree, but when a cetacean or simian makes the complaint himself, I’ll listen to their argument. There are perfectly serious people, motivated by philosophical and not necessarily religious arguments, who are against treating anything human as a thing. I’m willing to listen to them, and their religious allies, as we debate this issue. I personally think that it is moral to treat the embryo/fetus differently at different stages of development. Others feel strongly that no drawing of such lines is permissable. I think it is perfectly reasonable to note the objections of the opponents, and leave such research out of the budget. Would it be better to zero out government research altogether? Sure, but one step at a time.

    Kevin

  17. Beside the general reasons for the inequity of government funding of any research, it is especially unfair to force people who believe that it is based on infanticide pay for it. I personally think that the logic of this belief is flawed but that doesn’t matter. I have no right to use the government to force those who disagree with me to fund stem cell research.

    Ah, this isn’t unique to stem cell research funding. The government does things every single bloody day, using MY tax dollars, that I strongly disagree with. Do I support the bloody, unnecessary slaughter of 10,000+ Iraqi civilians? Do I support the sacrificing of 800+ of my countrymen? No, of course not.

    When the state steals money from everyone and then uses it to fund things which the state ( read: majority rule) deems worthy, there will always, always, always be conflicts. There will always be money spent on things that people don’t want it spent on. And that’s just what you get for letting democratic mob rule kill the republic.

    Stem cell research is just another good example. You people don’t like it? Then stand up and tell the majority that they have no right to steal 50% of your income in order to fund that which they deem worthy.

  18. Evan,

    Please show some evidence that 10,000 Iraqi civilians were killed by the US.

    I’d also like to see your estimate on how many civilians would have been killed by Saddam without an intervention.

    I’d also like to hear whether or not you supported regime change for the Taliban. We killed innocent civilians there too.

  19. “An embryo is just a human seed. It can become a human but it is not human.”-Matt

    A human embryo is an individual human organism, it is just as human as you or I. As far as it is “potential” an embryo is a potential infant, as an infant is a potential adolescent, an adolescent is a potential adult. Defining an early stage of development as being “nonhuman” using such word games is scientifically unsound, but politically convenient.

    That being said, what is your point? Neither an apple tree nor an apple seed has any rights of their own, either can be destroyed at will, with no legal consequence, this is not true for human beings. Your analogy falls into dust on close inspection.

    Our country’s statement of governing principles declares that all people have a right to life, therefore it is of great import for government to be able to define what makes a human person who has rights. By that light, I argue that the government have the widest definition of human “person” reasonably applicable, you are arguing for a narrow definition you would exclude a certain class human life from any claim to human dignity, based on childish semantic games and a utilitarian view of morality. I see no merit in your argument.

  20. ?Why is it a religious claim to say that a human embryo should be granted human dignity and not be viewed as a raw material….?

    It doesn?t have to be a religious claim, but it is generally phrased that way by people opposed to federal funding of stem cell research specifically (as opposed to being opposed to federal funding of research in general). Sometimes this claim is explicit, and sometimes it?s implicit ? it?s a ?moral claim,? but morality derives from religion.

    ?Their tax money would be going to support what they consider an abomination. Why is that so easy to dismiss??

    This problem isn?t the least bit unique to stem cell research, even in the context of federal research funding. In animal testing/research, GM research, and a lot of other areas I?m sure we can all think up, the federal gov?t is funding a lot of research that various taxpayers find offensive or immoral. I?m not trying to make an argument in favor of federal funding of research in general (although I do think there can be a legitimate place for it), which is a related but separate question. I?m making an argument that stem cell research should be treated the same as these other areas of research when funding decisions are made, and should not be given some special status because of prominent generally religious opposition.

    Maybe this will lead many people opposed to stem cell research (not specific people on this thread, but the country in general) to oppose funding in general, if they don?t already. But people who?ve never had any problem with funding of controversial research who are suddenly deeply outraged that their tax dollars are going to something they personally consider immoral aren?t too convincing to me.

  21. Evan Williams:

    When the state steals money from everyone and then uses it to fund things which the state ( read: majority rule) deems worthy, there will always, always, always be conflicts. There will always be money spent on things that people don’t want it spent on.

    The point is so strong that I just wanted to repeat it! Also, I would just like to add that the things that the money is spent on might not actually even be sought by a majority, but rather, sought by the politically favored.

  22. I may not know when a fetus is a human, but I’m pretty sure it’s not at the blastula stage. If stem cell research, which uses undifferentiated (not 30 week old) cells, is cruel, why is it less cruel to just leave the embryos frozen forever? These embryos are mostly leftover from in vitro fertilization.

    I’m very uncomfortable with late term abortion. My belief is that life “begins” when the baby has a functional nervous system. The embryos they use for stem cells aren’t even close, they’re just a ball of undifferentiated cells. If anything, it’s a seed put in the ground and watered (pre-germination).

  23. I am confused. Is it true that private corporations have the right to do stem cell research? Is the only real question whether we have the Feds pay for it? Why aren’t the large biomedical firms doing this research? If stem cell research is the slam dunk some people say, why aren’t private companies getting involved?

  24. I am confused. Is it true that private corporations have the right to do stem cell research? Is the only real question whether we have the Feds pay for it? Why aren’t the large biomedical firms doing this research? If stem cell research is the slam dunk some people say, why aren’t private companies getting involved?

  25. I am confused. Is it true that private corporations have the right to do stem cell research? Is the only real question whether we have the Feds pay for it? Why aren’t the large biomedical firms doing this research? If stem cell research is the slam dunk some people say, why aren’t private companies getting involved?

  26. Matthew,

    Here is an estimate of 11,500 dead innocent Iraqis as of May. Also it’s hard for me not to think of the conscripted Iraqi troops as quite innocent.

    http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=523991

  27. A National Academy of Sciences’ report concluded that:

    “Stem Cells and the Future of Regenerative Medicine”, concluded stem-cell-based therapies could alleviate much of the suffering of the 58 million Americans who will be struck in their lifetimes with cardiovascular diseases, the 30 million who will come down with autoimmune diseases, the 16 million who endure diabetes, the 5.5 million who will lose their minds to Alzheimer’s, and on”

    This is a great prospect! It’s happened before in free societies, scientific progress yielding significant and wide spread human betterment. But…

    The House of Representatives has twice voted for a ban on all human cloning research, including cloning to produce transplantable cells and tissues….what private company would invest in this research if tomorrow their researchers could be declared criminals and sent to jail?

    Of course, this isn’t just repression of science. It’s repression of the progress of humankind. This is the kind of stuff that dark ages are made of. If this is allowed to stand people will suffer because congress uses their power to stifle the fight against their affliction.

    However; IT IS NOT FAIR TO HAVE THE GOVERNMENT FUND STEM CELL RESEARCH!

    Beside the general reasons for the inequity of government funding of any research, it is especially unfair to force people who believe that it is based on infanticide pay for it. I personally think that the logic of this belief is flawed but that doesn’t matter. I have no right to use the government to force those who disagree with me to fund stem cell research.

    Anyway, private concerns and money will, no doubt, do it better anyway. Recall how Celera Genomics beat the government team in the race to crack the human genetic code.

  28. Mike A,

    I know that the House of Representatives has, at least, twice voted for a ban on all human cloning research, including cloning to produce transplantable cells and tissues. I’m pretty sure that these actions covered private corporations. I’m not sure of the effects of any subsequent congressional action.

  29. I heard Hatch on Imus, I think it was. Now that guy can spout some real whoppers. Forget Bush, Orrin is a lier of the first order. A true believer.

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