Saturday, July 30, 2005

Stem Cell Funding and Senator Frist

I have not followed this issue closely but am at least aware that the crux of the controversy is not that embryonic stem cell research has been banned. Rather, the federal government is simply not funding such research. (In fact, my state, California, is funding the research big-time, to the tune of $3 billion, probably more than Congress would.) The widespread notion that any ban exists has been a useful tool of advocates for federal funding and is the result of sloppy reporting by the MSM.

In this Daily Standard piece Eric Cohen and William Kristol clarify the moral and policy issues and make some proposals that Senator Frist and his colleagues need to consider.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a major flaw in the arguments raised by Eric Cohen and William Kristol in The Weekly Standard article. Here is how they describe the effect of the legislation for which Senator Frist announced his support:
"This means the federal government would promote what many citizens see as a grave evil: the deliberate destruction of nascent human life. The legislation, which President Bush has promised to veto, would make embryo destruction a nationally sponsored project."
"Frist called on the federal government to promote, with taxpayer dollars, the ongoing destruction of human embryos."

That is a false description of the Senate Bill, as demonstrated by the Cohen-Kristol article itself:
"In May, the House of Representatives passed a bill, sponsored by Representatives Michael Castle and Diana DeGette, that would authorize federal funding for research using stem cells derived
from IVF embryos left over in fertility clinics, unwanted by the parents who produced them, and destroyed by researchers." The legislation therefore only provides federal funds for research for already-existing embryos, created from in-vitro fertilization in fertility clinics, which are not wanted by the parents for whom they were created. If not used for stem cell research, these embryos will be destroyed and disposed of in any event.
That is the critical moral distinction that Senator Frist relies on, and it is a sound one. As Cohen and Kristol acknowledge, Frist supports an outright federal ban on the creation of embryos for research purposes!
The moral issue involved in this legislation is not the destruction of embryos; they will be destroyed in any event, even if not used in stem-cell research. For Cohen and Kristol to maintain logical consistency, they must oppose the destruction of surplus embryos created during in-vitro fertilization in fertility clinics (which would greatly lower the success rate of of in-vitro fertilization in infertility treatment). And I have yet to hear that position advocated by anyone other than the Roman Catholic Church.

Posted by Ralph Kostant

Sunday, July 31, 2005 4:49:00 PM  

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