The New York Times’ editorial extolling the lifting the Bush stem cell funding policy–as it ignores the purely gratuitous trashing of the Bush order requiring funding for “alternative sources”–is the usual mix of ignorance and ideology that typifies its side’s method of arguing this issue. First, it accuses Bush of having appointed “scientific” advisers on the issue based on ideology rather than expertise. But this has always been an ethical debate, not a science debate. Besides, Leon Kass not an expert in both science and ethics? William Hurlbut not an expert? Please.
But here is the point of this post: Note that now it has obtained its way on ESCR funding, the NYT wants to take the next bite of the apple, calling for the rescission of the Dickey Amendment that prevents destruction of embryos with federal money. (The Obama directive allows all stem cell lines created to qualify for federal funding after their creation. He could do no more because the Dickey Amendment would be violated–and this is a law signed each year by Presidents Clinton and Bush since 1996. Obama has not publicly called for it to be rescinded.) From the editorial:
Other important embryonic research is still being hobbled by the so-called Dickey-Wicker amendment. The amendment, which is regularly attached to appropriations bills for the Department of Health and Human Services, prohibits the use of federal funds to support scientific work that involves the destruction of human embryos (as happens when stem cells are extracted) or the creation of embryos for research purposes.
Until that changes, scientists who want to create embryos–and extract stem cells–matched to patients with specific diseases will have to rely on private or state support. Such research is one promising way to learn how the diseases develop and devise the best treatments. Congress should follow Mr. Obama’s lead and lift this prohibition so such important work can benefit from an infusion of federal dollars.
Well, that is false. There is plenty of public support–as in my state California that borrows hundreds of millions each year for the research even though we are drowning in red ink.
But let me translate the opaque NYT position: The Times wants scientists to go way beyond the so-called “leftover” embryos, which I have repeatedly written is only the launching pad of the voracious biotech agenda. Indeed, the editorial wants the Feds to fund scientists creating new embryos for use and destruction in research. This is a first in human history–creating human life for the sole purpose of using it as a natural resource and destroying it.
Beyond that, the comment about “specific diseases” is a typically veiled reference to human cloning research. Yet, the editorial doesn’t mention that the IPSCs have already done that very thing and that the lines are now being used in drug testing, etc.
And please do not make the naive mistake that it would stop with embryonic stem cells taken from custom made embryos. There are many valuable embryonic and fetal tissues to be studied or used as potential treatment modalities. There is no way that a newspaper that represents–and drives–the views of the Liberal Intellectual Elite will draw any reasonable line over any research on such tissues. Once the artificial womb is perfected that would permit embryos to be implanted and gestated, it will be Katy bar the door!
And lest you think I exaggerate, remember New Jersey has already legalized cloned fetal farming. The Feds outlawed it, but that isn’t remarkable since the only things that actually get outlawed are those areas of research that can’t yet be done. Besides, the prohibition–always subject to rescission when “the scientists” are ready to enter the field–does not apply to embryos and fetuses gestated in artificial uteruses.
There are powerful forces among us who insist on no brakes in biotech. They want unborn life to be considered the equivalent of chopped liver. If their views prevail, human exceptionalism will be flushed down the toilet and we will cease to have the right to call ourselves a moral society.