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Bush and Stem Cell Research
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Here's a recent article from Salon on the Bush Administration's stem cell research policy, and how horrible it is.

To scientists in the field, it's obvious that the president's current policy allowing for federal funding of research on only a small number of stem cell lines -- a policy conceived as a safe middle ground -- is quickly becoming untenable. Every day, researchers using private funding sources, and researchers in other countries, are making strides in stem cell science.

Yes...and that's why, even though I disagree with the Bush policy on this matter, I don't have a huge problem with the policy itself. Bush (and many Americans) believe that embryonic human life deserves some small parcel of rights and respect. And even though I believe that the scientific benefits of stem cell research supercede the rights of embryos, and that such research should be carried out, I understand the opposing position. I also understand the moral logic that balks at creating an embryo for the express purpose of either destroying it or harvesting stem cells from it perpetually. Again, I don't believe these objections are strong enought to argue against proceeding with the research...but I understand them.

That's why I don't think Bush's compromise (allowing federal funding to proceed with existing stem cell lines, but not with any new ones) isn't such a big deal.

Here's how it works: If you think the government should be spending more money on something you believe in, by all means, write your representatives and call for a change in policy. But you also have the right to personally fund private sources if you believe money should be spent in those areas. Consider it voluntary taxation.

That's the thing...there is still a ton of private research going on in the U.S., and more to follow, despite the lack of federal funds. Earlier this month, Harvard announced plans to open a new research center devoted specifically to stem cell research.

According to the Salon article itself:

At Harvard recently, a team led by Douglas Melton, a biologist working on stem cell therapies for Type-1 diabetes (he has two children who suffer from the disease), managed to obtain funding from several private groups in order to create 17 new cell lines for researchers to work with.

This technology is charging ahead, with or without federal funding. It's too potentially powerful not to.

So should the government be funding stem cell research? Yeah. Does it mean that the U.S. is going to fall behind scientifically because our government's not funding it? I don't think so.

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