Stem Cell Facts

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John Rabe has a great post giving the facts on stem cells and stem cell research, and as far as I know he's exactly right on each point. The most important point is that adult stem cell research has borne great fruit, and embryonic stem cells have only led to problematic developments when inserted into adult organisms. Ron Reagan says Republicans opposing embryonic stem cell research are scientifically ignorant, but he may more accurate if he directs that charge toward himself. The Democrats' decision to make this a key issue of the presidential campaign is a bad idea, since science is not on their side.

What I'd like to see is more information on placental stem cells, since those are usually just discarded and are adult stem cells, having the DNA of the mother. Our obstetrician, a pro-life Christian, told us there isn't any research showing it to be of much use, and he recommended discarding it, but I'd like to see the studies showing that. I haven't coming across any.

Update: Robert George argues for an even stronger conclusion. Ron Reagan is taking advantage of people suffering from Parkinson's Disease and other ailments by promising them a change in administrations is going to lead to cures for many such diseases. I didn't read his speech carefully, but what I saw doesn't contradict this. He also points out that Reagan chose a very careful way of phrasing the process of extracting stem cells that isn't technically false but makes it sound as if it doesn't kill a live embryo, which is nuts. It does, and most of the research people would do with a policy change would be using embryos created deliberately just to be killed for such research.


Setting aside the moral issues, given the scientific problems with using embryonic stem cells, one wonders why there is such a push to legalize research on them. Is it the money to be made by the biotech companies that will produce the little buggers? Or does somebody believe that embryonic stem cells, because of their unique properties, may someday prove to be the mythical Fountain of Youth?

One possible darker purpose is that they're bring it up because they know how Republicans will respond and can get them with the "anti-science" jab over it. In other words, it's purely political, just like the Republicans with the FMA, who knew full well that it wouldn't pass but were sure it would hurt Kerry if he disagreed with it (though I think it more likely helped Kerry and hurt Bush, if it affected anything at all).

The most intersting thing is that Bush just banned Federal Funding for the research.

These people certainly aren't interested in facing the facts. That is why they would never consider looking to such renowned people like the preeminent bio-ethicist, Wesley J. Smith (used to source some of John Rabbe's facts). Instead, I could see them pointing their flip-flopping fingers to other less authoritative sources such as can be found here:

I can't tell if you're being serious and stupid or sarcastic and anti-intellectual. Either is bad. If you really don't think the NIH to be reputable, I pity you. If you really think what you've linked to undermines anything John or I said, you didn't pay attention to what it says. It says that once a stem cell line is established it can continue to replicate itself without killing any more embryos. It's in fact for that reason that Bush did allow the use of existing stem cell lines! What Bush won't allow is federal funding for the killing of any more embyros to provide newer stem cell lines that will then perpetuate themselves.

Aside from that, there's nothing there that seems additional to me beyond what I was saying. Scientists have some tentative plans for what they might try to investigate, with no clear results to suggest that it will work any better than adult stem cells and lots of results to suggest that it won't work. There are a few advantages to pluripotent/embryonic stem cells that, if they could overcome the problems they mention here, might prove useful, but making it sound as if a Kerry president will guarantee cures for numerous diseases is at best speculative and possibly quite deceitful, especially given the problems documented both here and by people like Smith.


I have to ask if you actually read the information you linked to. As Jeremy indicates, it doesn't undermine a single point I (or Wesley Smith) made--in fact, it supports all the major contentions.

Your "authoritative source" (although your fallacious appeal to authority--unnamed authority in this case--also could bear some examination), in a typically verbose, governmental way, makes all the same points and affirms all the same facts as I did.

I guess I should actually thank you for posting it. I hope everyone will read it. In fact, I'll include it here in link form to make it easier for them to get to.

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