Thursday, December 14, 2006

Obsessing on Stem Cells

The stated purpose of this blog these days is to keep an eye on my legislators. But given how the last election put Missouri in the spot light regarding the stem cell issue and its generally assumed importance in the election of McCaskill, I hope that you'll forgive a bit of a digression in that direction.

The Right hasn't gone nuts just yet over reports of possible baby-harvesting in the Ukraine. Nothing's really certain yet but there's a chance that live babies are being used as sources of stem cells. I'm not sure what they're waiting for but I'm sure this story will soon enough be seized upon by the right as evidence of where this whole issue can go.

I certainly hope that it turns out that this truly horrible possibility isn't proven. On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised. While we debate about the ethics - a debate forced on us by the anti-abortion crowd - of stem cell research, nefarious elements are going to exploit our self paralysis. We must move forward with this. Let the scientist research embryonic stem-cells from fertility clinics that would be destroyed anyway when the owners conceive or give up.

The idea that this is going to get out of control and lead to whole human cloning is just silly. This argument could be applied to anything. If we allow the legal ownership of handguns won't this lead to a population at war with itself? We have our share of gun related homicides in the US but there's nothing that could suggest it's out of control. Government regulated stem-cell research would be the same.

And as far as baby harvesting, this also would never happen. If scientist were allowed access to the embryonic stems cells that are currently available, the black market for stem-cells harvested from live babies wouldn't exist.

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