Obama lifts the restriction on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
From the President’s remarks:
As we restore our commitment to science, and resume funding for promising stem cell research, we owe a debt of gratitude to so many tireless advocates, some of whom are with us today, many of whom are not. Today, we honor all those whose names we don’t know, who organized, and raised awareness, and kept on fighting – even when it was too late for them, or for the people they love. And we honor those we know, who used their influence to help others and bring attention to this cause – people like Christopher and Dana Reeve, who we wish could be here to see this moment.
One of Christopher’s friends recalled that he hung a sign on the wall of the exercise room where he did his grueling regimen of physical therapy. It read: “For everyone who thought I couldn’t do it. For everyone who thought I shouldn’t do it. For everyone who said, ‘It’s impossible.’ See you at the finish line.”
Christopher once told a reporter who was interviewing him: “If you came back here in ten years, I expect that I’d walk to the door to greet you.”
Christopher did not get that chance. But if we pursue this research, maybe one day – maybe not in our lifetime, or even in our children’s lifetime – but maybe one day, others like him might.
“We are restoring our commitment to science.” A disingenuous and gratuitous slander of his predecessor. By the same reasoning, lifting the ban on biological warfare or resuming Josef Mengele’s barbaric experiments on human prisoners similarly restores our commitment to science. Obama’s rhetoric represents either blissful ignorance or willful indifference to ethical concerns.
Obama’s actions represent a commitment to something, but it has nothing to do with science. The supposed advantage of using embryonic stem cells, instead of adult stem cells or umbilical blood stem cells (which present no ethical issues), is that embryonic stem cells are undifferentiated or “pluripotent” and thus capable of becoming any type of cell. These supposed benefits have always seemed to be greatly exaggerated. Even as hundreds of spectacular successful treatments for previously incurable conditions have been achieved using adult stem cells, embryonic stem cells have yielded nothing except grim side effects, like malignant tumors.
Of course, scientists engaged in embryonic stem cell research with financial and professional stakes in its success point out that if these “setbacks” can be overcome, the benefits attainable from embryonic stem cells are virtually unlimited.
The landscape changed in 2007 with the discovery of the means to transform adult stem cells into pluripotent stem cells, the functional equivalent of embryonic stem cells. The immediate consequence of this discovery was to end the stem cell debate once and for all, as induced pluripotent stem cells makes the destruction of human embryos wholly unnecessary. If I may quote Al Gore in defense of truth instead of his usual humbug, this is one area where “the science is settled.”
Science provided Obama and other supporters of embryonic stem cell research with a medical breakthrough identical to embryonic stem cell technology, but with none of the moral objections. Yet with a stroke of the pen, Obama rejected the latest scientific discovery with the same disdain with which he rejected Winston Churchill’s bust. For Obama and other secular zealots, it would seem that Science is sacrosanct, but only when it runs roughshod over Judeo-Christian truths.
In any case, compared to the Barnum-like hype for embryonic stem cell research, Obama’s sales pitch yesterday sounded rather dour. John Edwards once vowed that Christopher Reeve would walk again if John Kerry were elected President. If a Ted Cassidy lookalike with great hair can make the paralytic walk, surely a pectorally-enhanced Apollo who walks astride giant Doric columns could do much more.
But no. Yesterday The One™ spaketh that intentionally destroying one human life for potential benefits to unknown others may not pan out in our lifetime or even in our children’s lifetime, but perhaps someday they will.
Then again, maybe he was talking about the economic recovery.