Spinal Confusion

...an attempt to clarify confusing and innacurate information in science articles

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

State of the Union Redux

Lashing out against "egregious abuses of medical research" during his State of the Union Address, President Bush set the stage for the embryonic stem cell debate in 2006. This year, the battle continues.

Specifically, Bush said:

Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos. Human life is a gift from our Creator -- and that gift should never be discarded, devalued or put up for sale.
Before I attempt to predict the future, I need to nit-pick for a second.

There are a two things here that I, for one, have never heard of: no scientist in the US, to my knowledge, has proposed implanting an embryo for experiments; and no scientist or business has proposed patenting human embryos, although they have proposed patenting embryonic stem cell lines. Big difference. These two claims look like scare tactics to me.

With that out of the way...

Bush basically reiterated his August 9, 2001 statements, which does not bode well for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. Many SCREA proponents are hopeful that Bush will fail to issue his promised veto, since the bill only allows federal funding for ESCs derived from embryos where "the life and death decision has already been made." But, Bush addressed this in 2001:

And to the other crucial question, if these are going to be destroyed anyway, why not use them for good purpose -- I also found different answers. Many argue these embryos are byproducts of a process that helps create life, and we should allow couples to donate them to science so they can be used for good purpose instead of wasting their potential. Others will argue there's no such thing as excess life, and the fact that a living being is going to die does not justify experimenting on it or exploiting it as a natural resource.
Bush has made it clear that he sides with the group dubbed "Others," so the chances that he would sign it in to law or allow it to become law without his signature are only slightly lower than they are for me to get up and walk tomorrow. Which, I am sorry to say, I would not bet on.

So, what are we left with? The so-called "decoy" bills.

SCREA supporters claim that other bills, such as the Respect for Life Pluripotent Stem Cell Act, are just smoke screens meant to divert attention away from the SCREA and allow legislators to "pretend" to support ESC research. For election reasons. And stuff.

Which, to me, sounds like spilt milk. Imagine a kid going to their parent and saying "I want $20!" The parent says "No, but I'll give you $5." The smart kid would accept the $5 and say "Oh, okay." But, a bratty kid would whine about not getting their way and end up with nothing.

So, SCREA supporters, are you smart or bratty?