Human Exceptionalism

Tantrum Thrown

In what can only be described as a tantrum thrown because the Senate did not approve the ESCR funding bill by a veto proof margin, the chief supporters of federal funding of ESCR have thrown a procedural monkey wrench into the “alternative sources” bill. This makes no sense if they care about cures as much as these leaders claim, since these alternative methods could concievably do the trick. And it flies in the face of these advocates’ previous assurances that they support every avenue of research to obtain pluripotent stem cells. But apparently, the ESCR leadership in the House only want their pluripotent stem cells to come from destroyed embryos and are willing to thwart other potentially efficacious approaches unless and until they get their way. (We saw the same impetus in the shameful stalling of the umbilical cord blood stem cell bill by ESCR supporters, a bill that was held up for years in the Senate, but which finally passed unanimously when the foot draggers could obstruct no more.)

This episode is further evidence that the heart of the fight over stem cells isn’t really about cures. Nor, in my view, is it primarily a dispute about science. It is a struggle over the cultural values that are going to control society. And this explains the tantrum.