Obama's view of moral stem cell use

In his short time in office, President Obama has already released
federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, among other
controversial measures that involve ending human lives at taxpayer
expense. He talked about science and progress and hope and all, at that
time, but it was convoluted thinking. He said he wouldn’t condone
cloning, but experts said it’s a slippery slope straight toward cloning
and that couldn’t be avoided, once researchers were given more freedom
with fewer regulations.

On Friday, the Obama administration released new regulations.

Under the new guidelines, federal funding would be
allowed only for research using human embryonic stem cells from embryos
created solely for reproductive purposes by in vitro fertilization. The
embryos would have to no longer be needed for reproduction, and the
donors would have to consent to their use for research.

Funding for research using adult stem cells and induced pluripotent
stem cells will continue. Funding will not be allowed for stem cells
obtained from other sources, including somatic cell nuclear transfer,
also known as cloning; in vitro fertilization embryos created
specifically for research purposes; and parthenogenesis, the
development of an unfertilized egg.

Follow? This seems to be an attempt to make human embryonic stem cell research more moral, to the mind that accepts one category of creating human beings as ethical but not another.

But the looming issue ignored by proponents of this research and
federal funding is that it hasn’t been successful and offers no promise
of cures already achieved by use of adult stem cells. The argument is out there, though.

But opponents of the research say it is not sound science and destroys human life.

“The NIH draft guidelines demanded by the president will do nothing
to advance stem cell research that is showing near-term benefit for
suffering patients,” said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research

“Instead of funding more embryo destructive research, the government
should fund research using adult stem cells that are on the cutting
edge of treating patients for diabetes, spinal cord injury, heart
disease and various cancers. Unfortunately, this draft guidance only
diverts limited federal resources to unethical stem cell research that
has not successfully treated a single person for any disease.”

The terms of this debate are critical. Look at the language they use to talk about human beings in this ABC News piece.

New stem cell guidelines released on Friday by the U.S.
National Institutes of Health would limit federal funding of the
research to embryos left over at fertility clinics and prohibit federal
funding of embryos made by cloning or certain other methods.

Left over embryos. Castaways, able to be rescued from destruction by research scientists.

Back to that CNN piece above, it’s bottom line: 

“Our goal,” said [NIH director Dr. Raynard] Kington, “is
to advance science and promote health. And we believe these guidelines
will be used to improve the human condition.”

Define human. In fact, clarify what it means to improve the human condition. We need to come to better terms.


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