Embryos and Taxpayer Money

When it comes to stem cell research, the controversy roars. What makes it to the headlines is objection to embryonic stem cell research. What doesn’t make it is, why the objection?

With federal funds for embryonic stem cell research, there’s the moral question.

Whether people are comfortable with it or not, America is a nation of believers in Godly principles. I’m not saying we all behave as we should but, someplace within, we believe there is an accountability to someone, something higher than any of us. No, not some politician or priest, someone higher. We believe that human life is precious. We have difficulty in wantonly destroying human life, in any of its stages.

Then there’s the question about human life even the most sophisticated politician, medical professional or scientist has no answer to: When does human life begin? It’s in the absence of an answer to that question that controversy is stirred.

We become divided as a nation when those of US who believe life begins at conception must pay for the destruction of life we value. And those of US who believe life begins at some other, undefined point, place no value on what is regarded as a clump of cells, albeit with every marker for human life. We are upset that we are denied what we see as potential gain for mankind, using just clumps of cells, regardless of what ongoing research has shown.

Then there’s the information question.
If you thought stem cell research is confined to embryos, which has been banned for eight years, you’re wrong. If you didn’t look behind media reports about stem cell research you won’t know that adult stem cells are currently being used for procedures oversees, thanks to ongoing adult stem cell research and trials in the United States.

Gains from stem cell research have been phenomenal. You haven’t heard about it? Yes, adult stem cells have been successfully used to treat a range of diseases from heart to parkinsons, lukemia to macular degeneration and diabetes. And we must not miss that adult stem cells are also used to develop pharmaceuticals. Adult stem cells don’t cause tumors, or migrate the way embryonic stem cells do. In the United States, it’s mostly trials and research. Other countries, such as Thailand for reconstructive heart surgeries, practice the gain of American trials on adult stem cell research.

News today brings the lifting of the ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

That’s the nice way to say Taxpayer money will be used to pay for an Executive Order.

Opposition to public funding for stem cell research falls into basically, two categories. One goes back to the moral divide. The other springs forward to the current financial crisis.

The moral divide, where public funding for embryonic stem cell research is in such hot debate, begs the answer to the question, “When does human life begin?” Without the answer to that essential question, America will be divided against herself. With that question unanswered, will America be ready to address the concern among researchers, the worldwide demand for body part replacement trafficking? That would be a lucrative, unethical enterprise. Are we ready to address that yet?

The second part of the funding question springs to the current financial crisis which poses another challenge: Do we continue ongoing, already funded research? Or do we reach for money that doesn’t exist for a hope, which may detract from what is ongoing and already promising?

Private investors invest their money in adult, but not embryonic, stem cell research. According to stem cell researcher Christian Wilde’s Stem Cell Research Report: CEO of Human Genome Sciences William Haseltine says routine utilization of human embryonic stem cells for medicine is 20 to 30 years hence. Colon McGuckin, recognized stem cell scientist and professor of regenerative medicine in the UK puts the timeline to 50 years.

Private investors don’t put their money in projects without doing their research on the research.

Is this, really, an appropriate time to toss taxpayer money to the dubious future of the hotly debated embryonic stem cell research? The stroke of an executive order presents a quandry. The executive order is as out of control as researches report embryonic stem cells to be.

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