More on Stem Cells...
Republican Senator, and Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist, who has aspirations for the White House in 2008, put himself front and center on the issue of embryonic stem cell research. According to Sen. Frist (a doctor when he's not being a politician), the current national policy as regards embryonic stem cell research is short-sighted and incorrect, and that more Fed'ral funding of such research should be approved, despite the moral, ethical and scientific problems this entails.
Senator Frist has used the same rationale that all other advocates of this reasearch have used since the topic first became known to the general public; the potential for such research to cure (insert your favorite disease or malady here) is unlimited. The only way we will have a cure for (insert your favorite disease or malady here) is for this research to continue and expand.
Let's get a thing or two straight. To begin with, the argument in favor for stem cell research is merely another attempt to allow abortions in this country. However, unlike all the other excuses for unfettered abortion ("health of the mother", which has been expanded to cover a woman's "feelings" or "state of mind today" and is sufficiently vague enough in a mental-health sense), the rationale for the pro argument here is logically sound. The argument runs that since the research has potential, and we aren't exploring that potential, we should not miss an opportunity for what might be. In other words, it hasn't been proven this research can do anything, but until it's proven worthless we should persue it.
Now for the facts.
From what I have been able to gather, the most promising stem cell research (to date) has involved adult stem cells. I personally have read (in various publications) that adult stem cells are showing results in the fight against heart disease, Parkinson's disease, and in one instance, healed a girl in Germany with severe, multiple skull fractures. Stems cells recovered from umbillical cords (i.e. cord blood cells) have shown similar promise. Most research involving embryonic stem cells has done little more than foster tumors and death in laboratory animals. Most of the private sector reseach in stem cells takes place in adult stem cells and umbilical blood cells.
As of present, I am unaware of any institution --- scientific, academic or industrial --- that is pouring research money into embryonic stem cell research. Why? Because the limited research thus far has not lived up to the expected results. So, those who wish to continue this research must depend upon government funding. This, of course, dovetails very nicely with those who wish to continue abortion in the face of a potential societal change in which abortion is beginning to be seen for the abomination it is. It's a great marriage of convenience: the abortion rights people get to keep their pet project alive and relevant, the scientists get reasearch materials (frozen embryos designated for destruction anyway) and money they normally would not get. Everyone is happy.
Except Senator Frist. He's going to be very sorry, because when the social conservatives, the right-to-lifers, go to vote in the Republican primaries a year from now, they're going to remember that the Senator a) flipped his position and b) no longer truly espouses all aspects of the right-to-life movement. He will have flipped the bird to the very people he will need to secure the republican nomination.
Which is just as well, since I wouldn't have voted for him anyway.
However, I'm leery of anything that claims to be a cure for everything from chronic halitosis to severe spinal cord injuries when little or nothing is actually known. This is all speculation. And it's all a transparent (and disgusting) argument intended to perpetuate a political agenda, whether that agenda is legalized murder or attempting to vault yourself into higher political office.
Everyone involved should be ashamed for their dishonesty and duplicity.
In the meantime, let the scientists do what they can with what they can, and keep the politics out of it all.