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Atala Speaks, Ctd.


Atala’s letter raises two questions: 1) Does his research actually strengthen the case for one side of the debate over embryo-destructive research or the other? 2) Should his statement affect our answer to the previous question?

I think the answer to the first question is that yes, his research slightly strengthens the case against federal funding for embryo-destructive research. It makes it more plausible that we can achieve medical breakthroughs without taking steps that are unjust or, at least, require some taxpayers to fund research they consider wrong. Now if you don’t think there’s any moral problem with this research to begin with, or that taxpayers who think that it is wrong deserve any consideration, then the amniotic-fluid research doesn’t change anything. To the extent you give either concern weight, however, the research weakens the case for federal funding of escr.

Does Atala’s letter change anything? Not that I can see. Atala basically offers his conclusion about what federal policy should be: that it should fund all types of stem cell research. But again, if you are willing to concede anything to the opponents of embryo-destructive research, his work strengthens their (our) case. He is entitled to his political views, of course, but he can’t control the implications of his work.


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