Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Stem-cell confusion

Newsweek reports that "according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, 63 percent of voters support stem-cell research, including 58 percent of Roman Catholics. A recent Gallup poll showed that 53 percent want to see either no restrictions or fewer restrictions on government funding of stem-cell research."

The problem is that the poll -- as well as a lot of pols -- lumps people who support embryonic stem cell research with those who support adult stem cell research, without making any distinction for either the moral issues or the medical efficacy of the techniques. By extension, they say that anyone who has a problem with harvesting the organs of a unique human being for the convenience of someone else doesn't care if a given Parkinson's patient dies.

As a matter of fact, there no ethical problem with adult stem cells -- no one (no matter how small) has to die to give a cell from hair or fat or skin that can be tweaked in some almost magical way to reconstitute itself as a different form of cell.

Ironically, the only stem cell therapy that has shown any promise is adult stem cell therapy. Embryonic stem cell therapy has brought problems with tissue rejection and tumors and no examples of success.

Which raises the question: Why are some people so committed to embryonic stem cell research that they will promote it as if it's superior to adult stem cells and as if the moral issues are trivial?

The Wall Street Journal apparently doesn't have any deep-seated respect for the embryos that are destroyed by the process, but at least it has a modicum of respect for the people who do -- and for the truth of what works and what doesn't.

Props to Pres. Bush for being willing to use his first veto on government funding of embryonic stem cells.

UPDATE: Raymond J. Keating gives a more thorough explanation of the moral and polictical issues at Orthodoxy Today.

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