15
Mar
09

Stem Cell Bullshit

President Obama is shown (above) signing legislation regarding stem cell research in a ceremony at the White House. He looks like he is pursing his lips (something that a lot of folks do when writing their signature). In reality, he’s biting his tongue and holding back the vomit. President Obama may have abolished contentious Bush-era restraints on federal funding of stem cell research, but a legislative obstacle still remains for scientists seeking more money.

Folks may think (and hope) that Obama erased one of the silliest cornerstones of the Bush administration: the obstacles to stem cell research. Not so fast. There’s a wide gap between the order and the legislative funding. A spending bill that Obama signed on Wednesday explicitly bans federal funding of any “research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death,” language that pertains to creation of new stem cell lines. This provision, known as the Dickey-Wicker amendment, was included in the 465-page omnibus spending bill that will fund government agencies through September and it has been in every spending package that Congress has submitted since 1996. Doesn’t matter if we are talking Republicans or Democrats… they’ve all put the brakes on this research.

While the number of stem cell lines available to research has now increased (maybe) from a paltry 21 to a few hundred, scientists are still hamstrung by political posturing. I call bullshit. I consider myself a hybrid if a political label must be worn. I believe in a woman’s right to chose, a scientist’s right to research, a government’s duty to butt out, less taxes, free market, and encouraging a social consciousness instead of federal entitlements. I also have a personal stake in stem cell research. Both my mother and I have neurological conditions that very well may be treated or cured through the efforts of stem cell research. It seems as though we will be waiting at least a good while longer.

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