Monday, August 01, 2005

Senate Stem Cell Battle Begins In Earnest

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has thrown his support to embryonic stem-cell research, and this AP report states that he doesn't have enough votes to override a Presidential veto if he passes a bill opening up federal funding to embryonic stem-cell research using new stem-cell lines. Currently, federal funding is not allowed for embryonic stem-cell research, but allowed for adult stem-cell and fetal tissue research. State and private funding for embryonic stem-cell research is allowed, so there is no ban on the research.

Once again, the government is stuck in a battle over when life begins and how to use it. Do frozen embryos count as human life? Can they be used as test subjects at their parents' whim? Is it moral to use these embryos without letting them achieve their designed goal of becoming a fully-formed human being? It appears the law is on the side of the parents who wish to do so.

Morally speaking, I don't like it one bit. Legally speaking, I can only voice my opinion on the subject to try to change people's minds. I still don't know if there are going to be as many tangible benefits to this research as in adult stem cells. I've also heard that some of these embryos develop uncontrolled cellular division, which pretty much turns the cells into cancer cells. Cancer isn't a pretty way to go at any stage of life if you ask me. Can anyone out there point me to research showing the rates that these stem cells have converted from healthy cells to cancerous ones?

There had better be some kind of reward to this research, otherwise we really are throwing away our future. I also hope that those who do this have a moral and ethical code that is far more respectful of life than Ethics Professor Peter Singer of Princeton, who has views on bioethics that seem more to purely generate controversy than anything else. I wonder if he really has any concept of living outside of academia? It doesn't look like it.

Anyway, this is one of those issues where morals and law clash. Can anything be done to reconcile the two without surrendering either?

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