Friday, July 21, 2006

Steve and Cokie Get It Wrong, Again

Steve and Cokie's latest column, titled "Bush's Stubbornness", was startling in the number of inaccuracies, misleading statements, and apparent willful misinterpretation of reality. The gist if their argument is that President Bush's veto of the embryonic stem cell funding legislation somehow represents the triumph of hard-headedness over "science". Unfortunately, their argument is full of holes.

First of all, through most of the column, the Roberts' refer to the research covered by the legislation that President Bush vetoed as "stem cell" research. This, I believe, is an intentional attempt to make people believe that the president, and those who agree with him are opposed to stem cell research in general. In fact, both the objection and the vetoed legislation apply specifically to embryonic stem cell research, and not to that research that is based on adult stem cells, or those derived from placental or umbilical cord blood.

Steve and Cokie make the argument that embryonic stem cell (ESC) research raises "...the possibility of new treatments for a range of debilitating conditions, from cancer and Parkinson's to spinal cord injuries". What they don't bother to mention, however, is that those same conditions are being treated NOW using adult stem cells (ASC). Adult stem cells (as the name implies) come from adults, or from umbilical cord or placental blood, and retrieving them doesn't result in the destruction of any life. At least 72 different diseases and conditions are currently treatable using therapies derived from adult stem cell research. How many conditions are currently treated using therapies derived from ESC research? NOT ONE. That's right. Not a single person has ever been treated as a result of embryonic stem cell research. Progress and scientific advancements are much more pronounced with ASC research, yet some are clamoring for federal dollars to go to embryonic stem cell research. Why?

There are two groups of people who really stand to gain from ESC: the pro-abortion crowd and a minority of pharmaceutical/bio-technology companies. The pro-abortion crowd wants to continue to chip away at society's respect for the sanctity of life. If they can get the public to agree that its OK to destroy a fetus for research, why not then for convenience? The pharma/bio-tech companies have a financial motive. If they can arrange for the taxpayer to foot some of their costs, all the better for their bottom lines'.

Its clear that President Bush's veto certainly wasn't an example of hard-headedness winning out over "science". Science and practical application is solidly on the side of adult stem cell-derived therapies. Why should the taxpayers pay to destroy human life in the off-chance that it could lead to alternative treatments that, in many cases, are already treatable using adult stem Cells? Just as importantly, denying federal funding to ESC research does not in any way restrict or limit the private funding of that research, or the chances that a cure or treatment will be found, through that or any other form of research. Its ridiculous to imply, or outright state, (as the Roberts' do in their column), that people are suffering because the government won't pay for ESC research.

The icing on the cake in Steve and Cokie's column was this little gem: "...[President Bush] refuses to recognize that most moral choices are not between good and evil, but between competing virtues." According to the Oxford dictionary, the word "moral" is defined as: "concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character". No "competing virtues" there. The Roberts' statement is exactly what's wrong with so much of society today: there is such a thing as objective right and wrong. Morality is not in the eye of the beholder. Destroying human embryos, whether for research or convenience (as is done in an abortion), is wrong. Period.

No comments: