Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Massive GOP Sigh Of Stem Cell Relief

By Cernig

Back in 2005, a rightwing blogging friend of mine wrote that the controversy over stem cell research had the potential to disrupt Republican hopes for 2008 by splitting the party.
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.
If you were listening closely yesterday, the sound was a collective Republican sigh of relief. Steve Benen explains:
Yesterday’s announced breakthrough on stem-cell research is obviously good news for medicine, public health, and scientific advancements. Scientists from the United States and Japan have successfully been able to reprogram skin cells to act like embryonic stem cells. If the promise of these results is true, experts can move forward on embryonic stem-cell research without embryos, thus ending the political and philosophical debate.

...Taking the political argument to the next step, meanwhile, shows that the single happiest people in the country yesterday were Republican presidential candidates, none of whom wanted to explain their opposition to life-saving research that the overwhelming majority of Americans support. Now, it looks like the issue has been taken off the table for the 2008 presidential race, leading to a massive GOP exhale.

It’s worth noting, by the way, that scientists sill want some short-term research on actual embryonic stem-cells, because the research on the new method needs to be tested against the existing model. In this sense, there may still be some fighting left to do.
Steve's correct to say that Bush's claiming credit for pushing this breakthrough by his recalcitrance is ridiculous - especially since, as the WaPo reports,
scientists first had to study embryonic cells to find out how to accomplish the same thing without embryos.

“My feeling is that the political controversy set the field back four or five years,” said James Thomson, who led a team at the University of Wisconsin and who discovered human embryonic stem cells in 1998.
Of course the cheerleaders, like AJ Strata, ignore the inconvenient fact that this advance came from embryonic stem cell research in the first place:
Those who claimed you had to kill young humans to gain access to stem cells are all over themselves trying to claim they were vindicated now that we learn adult stem cells, created from skin cells, will do the job. What a bunch of BS from a group that never grasped the topic in the first place. These fools who tried to leverage their 3rd grade understanding of biology to claim we had to kill people te to get spare parts.
Then again, AJ might have trouble with that 3rd grade biology test himself. He writes that, in his scientific awesomeness, he understands that the single definer of "life" is that it have DNA - "the determinate factor is the DNA in the cells". I assume he will now write a post coming out against all autopsies and cadaver research, since dead bodies have DNA too.

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