Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Stem cell research

Elections, McCain 2008, Medicine, Obama 2008, Religion  

IV. Stem Cell Research

While we are at it, let's revisit an old favorite Democratic wedge issue, federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Joe Biden has just blasted McCain and Palin for opposing stem cell research:

"I hear all this talk about how the Republicans are going to work in dealing with parents who have both the joy, because there's joy to it as well, the joy and the difficulty of raising a child who has a developmental disability, who were born with a birth defect. Well guess what folks? If you care about it, why don't you support stem cell research?"

I don't know why Joe Biden thinks that, oh, say, Down's Syndrome is curable through stem cell research, but the Obama-Biden campaign "clarified" his statement by saying

We've heard not a dime's worth of difference between the McCain-Palin ticket and the Bush Administration on medical breakthroughs that millions of parents and doctors believe could save lives and transform the quality of life for countless Americans.

Now, as it happens, in this case Gov. Palin does apparently oppose federal funding for stem cell research. But you'd think that the Obama campaign wouldn't put out a statement on this that ignores the fact - widely noted in the press when McCain selected Palin a whole 12 days ago - that John McCain has voted to support such funding and continued to defend his support during the Republican primaries, in which his position on this issue was not popular. If Obama picked Biden as his running mate based on the knowledge he's acquired from years in the Senate, you'd think he'd at least be familiar with things that have actually happened in the Senate.

Now, I'd prefer that McCain - and, for that matter, Obama and Biden - came around to realize that the tremendous scientific progress on non-embryo-destroying stem cell research in the past two years (see here, here, and here) has essentially gutted the case for federal funding for embyronic stem cell research, at least for any purpose other than helping Democrats win elections. Indeed, I wonder at the scientific illiteracy of politicians who still support such funding, and wish more of them would come out where Gov. Palin has. The good news is that the McCain-Palin campaign website now talks up the alternatives, and recognizes the moral hazards:

As president, John McCain will strongly support funding for promising research programs, including amniotic fluid and adult stem cell research and other types of scientific study that do not involve the use of human embryos.


Where federal funds are used for stem cell research, Senator McCain believes clear lines should be drawn that reflect a refusal to sacrifice moral values and ethical principles for the sake of scientific progress, and that any such research should be subject to strict federal guidelines.

The 2008 GOP platform takes a similar position of promoting the alternatives while avoiding discussion on the rift that has separated McCain's from Palin's position:

[W]e call for a major expansion of support for the stem-cell research that now shows amazing promise and offers the greatest hope for scores of diseases — with adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood, and cells reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells — without the destruction of embryonic human life. We call for a ban on human cloning and a ban on the creation of or experimentation on human embryos for research purposes.

I hope McCain comes around at some point to opposing wasting taxpayer money on embryonic stem cell research. In the meantime, the Obama campaign is trying to have a debate that, like the various efforts against Gov. Palin, ignores McCain's actual record and positions. Running mate differs..The running mates also are on different sides of the stem cell research debate. In 2006, the Anchorage Daily News reported that Palin opposes stem cell research. McCain supports federal funding for stem cell research, but voted to ban researchers from using cells or fetal tissue from an embryo created for research purposes.

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