Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Willful Ignorance

Embryonic! The key word is Embryonic! EMBRYONIC!!! How can anyone be so dense. If I hear one more time that conservatives are against "stem cell research," I am going to start advocating harvesting the cerebral stem cells of journalists and liberal politicians, since they don't seem to need them.

I am admittedly a conservative. I used to be a Republican, back when Republicans were not Socialists, v 2.0. Lately, I've heard about how "conservatives" in our country are anti-science, anti-research, and anti-health. We have been accused of being against "stem cell research." Michael J. Fox thinks we're against it. So does Nancy Reagan. And what's-her-face McCain.

I am admittedly conservative. I even believe in God, and go to church. I am pro-life, and against government funding of anything that is not specifically granted to the government in the US Constitution.

But I am heavily pro-science. I marvel at the pictures from the Hubble telescope. I am amazed at the mapping of the human genome. I thrill at the idea that we are just a step or two away from being able to take the DNA from ice-preserved mammoths and reintroducing them to the 21st century. I would like our next goal to be the restructuring of the dodo. It could be done.

I love the growth of electronics and computers. I am an avid internet user. When I was in high school, no one had ever seen an atom, but since that time, I've seen photographs of them. I love what is happening in science. I look forward to the day that we finally figure out how to break Einstein's "c" barrier and start traveling faster than light. I believe it can be done.

So, see, I'm not a medieval pope who wants to condemn scientific research to the fires of hell. I'm not a "young universe" creationist, though I have a need to find and identify the Beginning of all things, and our culture's concept of God comes closest to that.

So why do people think I'm backwards? Because of one little word: embryonic. I'm not against stem cell research. I'm against embryonic stem cell research. Every day, countless gallons of umbilical cord blood are thrown out, teeming with stem cells that can be used for research, and subsequently, for the remediation of myriad maladies of health and genetics. Those stem cells are no different than the ones that are in human embryos. Yet they are not used.

Meanwhile, unborn children are harvested in order to add years to an existing human's life. My question is, "Why do we have to kill unborn children in order to do this research?" Actually, that question is miniscule, compared to the one I want to shout from the housetops: "Why does the media continue to rail against those who are against the slaughter of the unborn?" I see willful ignorance, an unwillingness to give the truth.

It's as clear as can be. Most conservatives, even of the evangelical Christian type, have no problem with research on stem cells. They have a problem with the source of those stem cells. I cannot figure out why, with a limitless supply of stem cells available in our hospitals in the abundance of umbilical cord blood, the Left insists that these cells come from embryos.

Michael J. Fox whines about his own condition. I want to see him cured. Is he too ignorant to realize that umbilical cord stem cells can just as easily be used to find the cure? We live in a generation that is easily deceived. Some researchers have said that even the elderly have perfectly good stem cells in their bodies. Organ donors and those who will their bodies to science could also be sources of a limitless supply of these miraculous cells.

When your major networks tell you that human embryos are the only source of these precious research tools, I can think of no other way to put it: They are lying to you. Either through willful deceit or bare-faced ignorance, they are feeding us a load of pasture fodder. Stem cells are abundant; they are all around us.

But the word "embryonic" is the sticking point. It's my only sticking point. Am I for stem cell research? In the words of a recent national celebrity, "You betcha!" Am I for killing unborn children in order to get them?

I'm not that stupid.


Anonymous said...

Your take on this is interesting. I can't tell if you're in the medical field or not. Having been in the Adult stem cell field (cord blood specifically) let me see if I can shed some additional light on the subject for your readers.

First - embryonic and cord blood stem cells are not the same cell. Embryonic cells have "differentiated" and been assigned very specific tasks. Mostly tissue based. Adult cells have not differentiated and consequently have not been assigned specific tasks. In theory they should be more flexible.

Cord blood stem cells are primarily blood cells. They are however immunologically immature. A mature adult stem cell has been populated with our invidividual protein "markers" which makes them difficult to transplant. Cord Blood stem cells don't have these markers therefore making them far easier to transplant and far more flexible in use.

While the conversation about embryonic stem cells seems to center on "saving people" from the left and the religious outcry from the right no one is really talking about the science of the embryonic cell.

The challenge for scientists is that embryonic stem cells are immortal. This is also the number one indentifier for a cancer cell. Until scientists can find the "on/off" switch for the embryonic cell it will never make it off the bench because it is cancerous. The FDA, nor any responsible governing body, is going to allow the use of cells for in-human therapy that could cause cancer.

This debate will rage on until the science is clearly vetted and everyone understands the challenges. Both sides are playing the emotional cards, not the science.

And by the way, in 2005 the government passed a bill and appropriated $80 million dollars from taxpayers to build the National Cord Blood Inventory. The is to build an inventory of 150,000 cord blood units stored in 8-10 cord blood banks around the country. I bet none of your readers know this passed under President Bush's watch!

People need to read, learn, discuss before taking sides.

BParsons said...

To "Anonymous"

I'm still not sure how to directly answer a response to a post, so I hope this will do.

First, thanks for your intelligent response. I learned more from your post than I have learned from two years of searching through the media trying to find out about stem cell research.

No, I'm not in the medical field. That's another reason I thank you for posting.

I obviously am "pro-life" and have a moral objection to embryonic stem cell research, but I have no objection whatsoever to stem cell research itself.

I find your response measured, informed, and extremely helpful. I wish the national debate over stem cell research -- on both sides -- would approach the problem as authoritatively and with as much emotional detachment as you have shown in your response.

If you have a blog site, I would be interested in reading it.

-- Bruce Parsons "Bubble of Sanity"