Monday, August 01, 2005

Stem Cells and Dr. Frist

When my husband read me a headline about Dr. Frist supporting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, I commented, "Well that has killed his '08 presidential ambitions." It's not that conservative Christians couldn't support a candidate who supports that position. I could, although I would be unhappy to do so. What chafes about Frist can be boiled down to a few things. First, no pro-life conservative likes to see a candidate move away from thier position. If you are going to support a candidate who has a different stance on life issues, you do not want to support one that's policy is in movement away from you.

Second, Dr. Frist defends his position with an egregious quote:
"It isn't just a matter of faith, it's a matter of science," Frist, a heart-lung transplant surgeon, said in a Senate speech. "The president's policy should be modified."

No, Dr. Frist the president's policy is keeping a pork laden program full of ethical concerns stymied at the federal level. (Don't even argue about the pork-all government programs have a pork factor rolled in them.) Embryonic stem cell research has plenty of funding in California. Scientists who actually are making measurable progress in stem cell research are doing so through adult stem cells. To them it is a matter of science, not politics.

Successful experiments on mice are a critical step in getting approval to try a treatment on humans. One reason Dr. Faustman said she has not tried embryonic stem-cell research is because she has not seen research in which a diseased mouse was successfully treated with an embryonic stem cell.

"I was taught something pretty young, and that was: Don't follow the dogma, follow the data," she says. Despite the lack of mouse data, however, the NIH has set aside millions for research on embryonic stem cells.

Meanwhile, Drs. Mitchell and Faustman, who have credible data on treating strokes, kidney damage, and diabetes—some of same diseases the NIH says embryonic stem cells can cure—are denied funding. "I think people who want embryonic stem cells just don't want [alternatives] to work," Dr. Faustman said.

(emphasis mine)

While INDC Journal tears at Red State diarist, Augustine's article criticizing Frist (I do think calling Frist a traitor is unjustified - weak is more accurate), he does his readers a disservice by not pointing out the key point Augustine makes:

As we all know, embryonic stem cell research is not banned in America; it is legal. The issue at hand is taxpayer funding of said research – and just as the GOP does not believe in taxpayer funding for the destruction of unborn people, we should not embrace taxpayer funding for the destruction of embryonic people.

In fact this key graf is pulled out and highlighted, a fact INDC ignores. Look, I understand that the many libertarians and moderates in the GOP do not have the same views on life issues that conservatives do. Stop framing the stem cell debate as if it is an either/or position, embryonic research is ethically debatable but not the end all be all of research. Science is behind adult stem cells as Timothy Goddard ably points out. (8:11 am)

Update and Bump to Top: Patrick Ruffini makes the point much more elegantly than I do about the money. Plus, I think he characterizes how many pro-life individuals feel about embryonic stem cell research:
On the social issue spectrum, stem cell research is seen as a warm and fuzzy version of abortion

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