Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I know that I've visited this subject before, but it deserves clarification, especially since the left hates Bush so much that they'll make an issue out of anything.

We on the right didn't much care for the Boy President, Billy "Can I Look Up Your Skirt" Clinton, but the vitriol unleashed against Bush is ridiculous, and much of it is utterly unwarranted--it's just pure hate, which I thought the left declaims.

Anyway, the stem cell debate hit the news again last week when Bush vetoed a bill to expand federal funding of fetal stem cell research. To make things more dramatic, it's his first veto.

Let's take things step-by-step: First--Bush did not outlaw fetal stem cell research. Repeat after me: Bush did not outlaw fetal stem cell research. The hate wing of the Democratic party wants you to believe that he quashed all fetal stem cell research. He did not. He only said that the government will continue funding research on several established cell lines (big surprise, kids--the government is still funding fetal stem cell research), but won't fund research on any new lines.

Not a big surprise--the government has been cutting back on all sorts of expenditures ever since the Clinton recession (don't believe me on that one, look it up). And fetal stem cell research has shown zero potential. Why should the government fund a dry hole in an era of cutbacks?

A primer on stem cells: Stem cells are "undifferentiated" cells. In other words, they haven't yet become muscle cells, skin cells, eye cells, etc. In theory they are like sheet metal, which can be hammered into a particular shape. Theoretically they can be coaxed to become a particular sort of cell by exposing them to specialized conditions which force them in one direction or another. In other words, theory has it that a stem cell can be grown so as to become a cell that could bridge a gap in a severed spinal cord.

But, it doesn't work that way. There have been some positive results in stem cell research, but in every case it has involved adult stem cells. Yes, there are adult stem cells. They exist as peripheral blood cells, which are much less numerous than red and white blood cells, but exist nonetheless; and in adipose tissue (fat). Adipose tissue is in no short supply these days and at any rate, once obtained, stem cells can be cloned to become a cell line, making them a commercially available product for any biotech company to obtain and work with.

Fetal stem cell research is a bust. I don't know why, nobody knows why, but they just don't work. But to say "we don't need to be drilling this dry hole anymore" is to be instantly labeled "anti-abortion", the 21st century equivalent of "Nazi".

There are two reasons for this. The primary reason is that there is a number of scientists making damn good livings playing with fetal stem cells. To this day they have absolutely nothing to show for their efforts, but to call them on it is to break their rice bowl. They need the grants, they need the money, and they'll be damned if they'll admit they have nothing to show for it. Instead, they intimate that anyone who is against their research is a Luddite or, gasp, anti-abortion. The second reason is that fetal stem cell research mitigates abortion. It's more palatable if the "byproduct" goes to biotech research.

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