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.

Obama reverses Bush, funds failed embryonic stem cell research & more

Ethics, Medicine, President Obama, Pro Life / Pro Abortion

President of 'Hope' Gives Patients Anything But

For eight years, President George Bush proudly displayed in the Oval Office a bust of Sir Winston Churchill on loan from Great Britain. As a gesture of goodwill, the British government offered to let President Obama keep the statue during his term as a symbol of our longstanding friendship. Obama declined, shipping the bust back to England--and with it, the reminder of Churchill's great wisdom. It was he who warned that if evil prevails "all that we have known and cared for will sink into a new Dark Age, made more the lights of perverted science."

Today, that "perverted science" took root in America in a powerful new way, as President Obama tore down the wall between the federal government and embryonic stem cell experiments. By executive order, he took the first step in overturning the restrictions on taxpayer-funded embryonic stem cell research. His decision will allow government agencies to use federal money to encourage experiments on innocent human life, abolishing a ban that Bush put in place in 2001.

Supporters of the decision are quick to point out that Americans won't be financing the death of embryos. Although we may not be funding the killing, we are funding the killers. For now, the one law that prevents Obama from using taxpayer dollars to fund the destruction of embryos directly is still in place. The Dickey-Wicker amendment, approved by Congress every year since 1996, bans the use of federal funds to create human embryos. Unfortunately, even that safeguard could be in jeopardy under the liberal majority. As with the other pro-life riders, Dickey-Wicker must survive the appropriations process--a feat that could now be monumentally more difficult.

Obama's decision puts the government in a business which is not only unethical but also medically unnecessary. As recently as last week, researchers announced that they had successfully turned ethically created cells into the neurons that break down in Parkinson's disease. The week before, scientists produced evidence that they had treated Parkinson's in a patient with his own adult stem cells. Almost daily, researchers are celebrating new breakthroughs without compromising a single human life. Over 70 diseases and conditions have already been treated through adult stem cells, helping patients overcome everything from juvenile diabetes to heart disease. There is a common misconception that ESC research hasn't yielded these same results because it's not legal. It is. Only federal funding has been restricted. Private, commercial, and even state ESC experiments continue to no avail. That's why the ESC community is so desperate for federal funding. Many of the private ESC financiers see the method as an expensive failure. Even Dr. James Thomson, who first grew human ESC in 1998, has pulled his resources from embryos and invested in induced pluripotent (or iPS) cells, because, apart from the satisfying the moral dilemma, these cells are easier and cheaper to reproduce.

While the Obama administration and its supporters claim to be on the cutting-edge of science, the new President is pursing old technology. And thanks to the latest stimulus package, he will have at least $8 billion to do so. In a clever political move, Obama put the money in place at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) during the second "bailout," then moved ahead with rescinding Bush's restrictions. As he stated today, it will be up to NIH to decide in the next 120 days on the guidelines for ESC research.

Of course, scientists will lobby to obtain the money without strings or congressional oversight. According to the White House, their wish may be granted in the form of a presidential memo which Obama released today that seeks to insulate scientists from political accountability. In instances like this one, a lack of transparency is unacceptable, particularly when taxpayers are footing the bill. Harold Varmus, who co-chairs the President's Council on Science and Technology, defended the idea. "This is consistent with the President's determination to use sound scientific practice... instead of dogma in developing federal policy." Is it dogma or discipline? I guess that depends on your worldview. Are they restrictions or protections? Research or experiments? In this brave new world of commodifying human life, we should all be grateful for moral restraints. Please contact your leaders and urge them to uphold the ones that still exist. Urge them to right Obama's wrong by voting for the Patients' First Act. Instead of asking taxpayers to fund the destruction of life, this bipartisan bill would promote stem cell research that is making progress on principle.

FRC: Adult Stem Cell Success Stories

So much for promises to be scientific! (Door to cloning opened too)

 bama's Bad Science Bailout Yesterday's Executive Order may not have surprised conservatives, but it certainly shocked the Left. Although most of the country expected President Obama to make good on his promise to reverse the federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell (ESC) research, the final order turned out to be far more extreme than ESC's biggest proponents had hoped. Most believed the President would maintain some semblance of restraint and allow experimentation only on those embryos discarded by fertility clinics. Unfortunately, no such limits exist. The President not only cracked ajar the door to ethically-challenged research, he flung it wide open--leaving the very scientists who demanded this money potentially in charge of its limitations.

Under the President's directive, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), unless Congress intervenes, will determine what, if any, boundaries there might be on how we obtain these embryos. With no clear policy from the White House, you and I could be footing the bill for research that clones embryos just to scavenge their parts.

If that's the case, our policy will condone the creation of life for the sole purpose of experimenting on it. Ronald M. Green, a Dartmouth College bioethicist, said, "There are lot of people on the left and the right sides of our political spectrum who are opposed to that--to create a life to destroy it."

President Obama justified the idea yesterday, saying, "As a person of faith, I believe we are called to... work to ease human suffering." But killing to cure doesn't make the destruction more acceptable, just like giving stolen goods to the church doesn't justify larceny. As Yuval Levin, the former executive director of President Bush's Council on Bioethics writes in today's Washington Post, "In science policy, science informs--but politics governs, and rightly so."

By attempting to shield this research from any public or congressional scrutiny, the President may as well tear up his social contract with the American people. When we're talking about human life and taxpayer dollars, voters have a right to know who's going to monitor the scientists. The appetite for this research may be insatiable, but as Levin says, "[Science]... is no substitute for wisdom, prudence, or democracy."

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) disagrees. A longtime proponent of unethical research, DeGette urged Congress to make Obama's executive order permanent. "Congress must quickly pass complementary legislation so that no future anti-science administration will be able to hinder progress... Congress absolutely must not delay in codifying the directive to prevent science from being subject to the whim of politics." Here is the first of what we expect to be many fierce attacks on the Dickey-Wicker Amendment--the only policy remaining that protects taxpayers from directly funding the destruction of human embryos. Please help us keep this important barrier in place. Contact your Congressmen and urge them to support the Dickey-Wicker and the bipartisan Patients' First Act. Unlike President Obama's order, it promotes science that is not only ethical but effective.

FRC: Stem Cell Success Stories

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