Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Can somebody help me out here? All morality/ethics aside (as if that were desirable or possible), why would President-elect Barack Obama want to delve back into federally funding dead end research using embryonic stem cells? It is my understanding that adult stem cell and skin cells have been proven to be the only ones effective at treating disease.

He hasn't done it yet, but it's my understanding that Obama planning to reinstate federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. As he stated before that the issue of when life begins is "above his pay grade." Maybe this one is too? Maybe an advisor will help him out on this one. Maybe I'm wrong.

Please let me know if I'm wrong on this one re: the "potential" of using embryonic stem cells for research and treatment of disease(s). If I'm wrong there's the whole morality/ethics part of it ... but that's not what I'm talking about here.


Everett said...

I think it's a matter of supporting the "science" agenda against those "anti-science, religious-right nutjobs." Meaning by that, that there's been a lot of p.r. over the last few years about how resistance to embryonic stem cell research is an unjustifiable religious foray into science that retards the growth of knowledge and an uncompassionate partisan attempt to advance the pro-life movement at the expense of people suffering from alzheimer's, paralysis, and other nasty diseases that will all be miraculously cured through embryonic stem cell research. The Democratic party and its supporters have used a lot of p.r. to paint this picture despite discoveries about the greater potential of adult stem cell research (though I've mostly heard about these discoveries through right-wing neocon types) and Mr. Obama probably feels obligated to make all that p.r. pay off--and it's entirely possible that he sincerely believes the p.r.

Anyway, that's my take.

Ryan said...

I agree with Everett, but in fewer words.

Guevarafam said...

This is part of why I don't like messing with reproductive science/endocrinology. The embryonic stem cell debate would not be in existence had we not started messing with nature to begin with.

I'm not the world's foremost expert on stem cells, but I think the biggest argument for embryonic stem cell use is that one cell line can theoretically produce an infinite number of cells with a given set of characteristics. With adult stem cells, it's supposedly not that easy. Also, supposedly, adult stem cells are not as easily reprogrammed into forming other cell types.

I'm not saying I agree w/ stem cell free-for-all. But what do y'all suggest we do with the embryos already created for whatever purpose? Let them sit there? That sounds irresponsible to me too.

Guevarafam said...

By the way, in my last comment, the question is not a rhetorical one. I have wrestled over and over with what should be done with these embryos...and don't know that there is a good, easy, responsible solution. Sorry if that came across differently. I meant it as an honest question.

B-U-R-L-Y said...

I'd like to keep the convo. rollin' with others who might know more stuff, too.

BethAnn - as for "But what do y'all suggest we do with the embryos already created for whatever purpose? Let them sit there."

I didn't intend for the focus to be the ethics/morality, but I say, yes, let 'em sit there for two reasons:

1.) I'll dive right into the ethics side of it. A baby should be implanted at some point even if there's not a plan for it to be done while the baby is just "sitting there". I don't mean the following to sound overstated, I just mean it: If I was a baby, I wouldn't want my body (whatever stage it's in) to be used for science since my parents didn't take the God given responsibility to bring me to term. It's adding insult to well injury (and by "injury" I mean letting me die by omission) to use my body against my will for science. Maybe not as bad as outright leaving me to never have life outside the test-tube against my will. Having lived for 32 years plus, I know that I would have wanted an equal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
2.) The initial point - my understanding is that the research is dead end anyway.
3.) My point #1 is complicated by what you brought up, namely that we've gotten into this by the way "we've" dealt with reproductive science, etc.

Guevarafam said...

We probably agree on this subject more than we disagree...but let me play devil's advocate. How do you decide when, where, with whom etc. to implant them. (Ok, I know WHERE.) What if the bio parents don't want that? I agree that it's not very responsible on their part to decide that, but legally they are still the deciders. Do we overturn that responsibility? If yes, to whom do we give it? Do we want government to decide that for us?

I personally think we need to stop creating embryos period. Too close to playing God. And, sorry that the conversation took a turn you didn't intend. It's hard to separate the ethics from the rest, IMO.

B-U-R-L-Y said...

First off, yeah I think we are agreeing. Second, I don't mind that it went the ethics direction, because I think ethics are key to the overarching discussion.

You said (as "devil's advocate"):

"What if the bio parents don't want that? I agree that it's not very responsible on their part to decide that, but legally they are still the deciders. Do we overturn that responsibility?"

To oversimplify: "All [people] are created equal ... with certain ... rights ... life ..." So, yes that responsibility should have never been decided by the court (re: abortion) ... and it led to the mess we're in now with this stuff. I respect the court as a part of our government to be submitted to on one level. I wholly regard the court's *decision* on Roe v. Wade to have been abominable and a disgrace to our nation.

Hmm ... guess we're way off the science part of it now.

Guevarafam said...

I see abortion and stem cells to be semi-related under the issue of right-to-life, but different aspects thereof. I don't see a linear progression between the two.

I see stem cells as a result of people creating embryos for purposes of IVF. I've no doubt that people who want children of their own are good and sincere people who want to raise a child that's biologically theirs. However, the unintended consequence is lots of 'leftover' (for lack of a better word) embryos, that nobody in charge seems to know what to do with. And that bothers me tremendously. Who gets to decide when and where they are implanted?

Abortion, on the other hand, deals w/ the question of what to do with a life that is already implanted. Whole other discussion right there.

B-U-R-L-Y said...

BethAnn - I think you're right that on one level we're talking about two different things that are not a progression from a-b-c ... but on another level, both fall under the umbrella of "right to life" ... who decides now? Don't know ... it's above my pay grade (and brain). Good question.