In testimony before a joint session of committees covering stem cell policy and the NIH, the interim chair of the NIH’s stem cell policy task force told the senators that Bush’s stem cell policy is hampering research:
The National Institutes of Health official overseeing the implementation of President Bush’s embryonic stem cell policy yesterday suggested that the controversial program is delaying cures, an unusually blunt assessment for an executive branch official. …
When Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D‑Mass.) asked her how the policy was affecting medical research, she said, “We are missing out on possible breakthroughs.” The ability to work on newly derived stem cell colonies — precluded from federal funding under the Bush plan — “would be incredibly important,” she added.
Landis also declared that “science works best when scientists can pursue all avenues of research. If the cure for Parkinson’s disease or juvenile diabetes lay behind one of four doors, wouldn’t you want the option to open all four doors at once instead of one door?”
The question is a good one, and anyone defending the Bush policy ought to think about their answer it. Researchers are often confused and stymied by the restrictions of current stem cell policy, and many states are working on ways to get researchers around those limits. Nonetheless, the duplication of effort and of resources the current policy requires is absurd.
If people really believed that this research was destroying lives, they’d want it banned. I don’t know what changed on one day in August of 2001 that transformed this research from moral to immoral. Continuing these arbitrary restrictions seems like the height of hypocrisy. Either the President isn’t so worried about the immortal souls of the embryos frozen and destroyed at fertility clinics every day, or he doesn’t care about people who might be cured or treated thanks to discoveries made with stem cells.
I suppose it could be both.