Friday, May 20, 2005

Stem Cells - The Right's Perfect Storm

My esteemed colleague Harkonnendog has a thought-provoking post over at the UPC which argues that the next big Republican in-fight will be over stem-cell research - and that it could ruin their electoral hopes in 2006 and 2008.

The titanic clash between Evangelist republicans and non-Evangelist republicans is nigh- (and as rightwing and Christian as I am I'm still a non-Evengelist republican) this will bring it to a head. The titanic clash between spiritualist-luddite conservatives and laissez-faire conservatives is also here, and this is not a throw-away issue. This has life and death and very close to immediate impact. There's no squirming away from this.

Hark notes Bush's push for an international ban on both cloning to produce transplants and reproductive cloning, and also the House of Representatives proposal to toss therapeutic cloning researchers into prison for up to ten years and fine them one million dollars. "In fact, if this effort to criminalize research on cloned human stem cells were to succeed, Americans who go abroad to seek cloned stem cell treatments, say, to cure their diabetes, could be jailed for up to ten years for illegally "importing" cloned stem cells."

Even so, I think on reading the post Hark is very much in favour of continued research, as he applauds the recent South Korean stemm cell research breakthrough that prompted his post.

But Hark nailed it, this is the brewing "perfect storm" as far as the Republican Party are concerned and today Bush came out for the luddites.

"I've made it very clear to the Congress that the use of federal money, taxpayers' money, to promote science which destroys life in order to save life -- I'm against that. And therefore if the bill does that, I will veto it,"

He was talking about the latest House bill that would loosen restrictions on government funding of embryonic stem cell research. One of the bill's sponsors said his legislation in essence lifts the cutoff date of Bush's policy to allow federally funded research on stem cell lines "derived ethically from donated embryos determined to be in excess."

"Under no circumstances does this legislation allow for the creation of embryos for research nor does it fund the destruction of embryos," Representative Castle (d) said.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada called on Bush to reconsider, saying "President Bush has made the wrong choice, putting politics ahead of safe, responsible science."

An identical bill has been offered in the Senate by Republican Sen. Arlen Specter.

"There's a storm coming in"

Update 22nd May

Hark's going to love this one (via NewsNow):

According to Medical News Today, a GOP commissioned poll of 1,300 registered voters in 13 Republican-controlled House districts found that 66% of individuals surveyed said they support embryonic stem cell research. Some House Republicans got really, really angry that GOP colleagues had run a survey in their areas without warning them. One had to be forceably pulled away from a "heated discussion".

Meanwhile, Tom DeLay proved again that he has lost touch with reality, telling the New York Times that "once people understand the issue, more than 70% are against embryonic stem cell research," and vowing to ensure the bill fails.

Care to have an opinion on DeLay's words. Hark?

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