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It's on its way.

The ad couldn't be any better at expressing the anti-stem cell lobby's talking points. Unfortunately, it does such a good job largely because it's deceptive about its main point.

The ad, put out by the Right to Life Committee of NM depicts a woman in a wheelchair, saying she wants to be cured of a disease, but not if it involves embryonic stem cell research, since that will deprive a potential life. She goes on to talk about how adult stem cells and stem cells from other sources have been used to treat various conditions, while embryonic stem cells have not yet been used in therapeutic treatments.

I think it's an effective ad--the woman appears quite sincere and suitably emotional. However, as I also mentioned, the ad is deceptive on two major fronts.

First, part of the reason why embryonic stem cell research has not yielded any new cures is that the embargo on federal financing has basically hamstrung the US research community for the last five years. In addition, scientific fraud like the Hwang debacle in South Korea hasn't helped; it turned back the clock by a year or two on its own. However, there is no doubt in my mind that the hurdles that must be crossed to carry out embryonic stem cell research in the US are so burdensome that it's little wonder that we're still years away from a cure.

More importantly, though, the ad lies about how the embryos are created. Very few people are advocating the creation of embryos for the express purpose of harvesting them for their stem cells. Even the stem cell research bill recently passed by the House prohibits work on stem cells derived in this manner.

Instead, people who support embryonic stem-cell research need to make it very clear that the source of the embryos is the "by-products" of in vitro fertilization treatments: embryos that, if not harvested, would otherwise be incinerated. I believe that most people would rather see stem cells harvested from embryos if they knew that the alternative is that the embryo is just thrown away.

However, the forces who are determined to stop this potentially groundbreaking research don't want people to make a rational, informed decision. Instead, they trot out the tired, but still effective "murdering embryos" canard that the anti-abortion lobby uses.

What we need is a comparable ad, one that explains where embryonic stem cells should come from (unneeded IVF embryos that would otherwise be discarded), where they should not come from, and why they're so important. We know that when they know the issues, the majority of Americans favor stem cell research (Sen. McCaskill knows that firsthand). I think we just need to be vigilant about the fact that we're still not out of the woods.

Originally posted to lone1c on Sun Jan 28, 2007 at 07:56 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    godislove, willb48, JDWolverton

    Your thoughts about ads to promote stem cell research?

    •  I wish this argument from the RW was based on (0+ / 0-)

      facts instead of emotion.

      I just don't see where a woman in a wheelchair martyring herself is justification for disallowing stem cell research. I think it's interesting they chose a woman in a wheelchair. not a child, not a man... a woman.  That to me is manipulation of emotion not a factual argument, but that's what the RW is about isn't it?

  •  in for a penny, in for a pound (0+ / 0-)

    I'd like to see someone pubicly attack the "embryo as child" argument on the legal consequences.   In a sense we should embrace their argument and take it to its logical conclusion.

    Their basic argument is that the embryo is a human life and deserves legal protection, like a baby does. So, let's accept that premise.  Embryos are human lives that deserve our protection.

    That means that a reproductive clinic is a foster home for embryos.  In addition to meeting medical regulations, these clinics should meet child protective services regulations.  It is possible that meeting these new regulations could be more costly, raising the expense of reproductive services.  Also, the risk of facing criminal charges if you make a mistake is highter, and the risk of very expensive lawsuits is going to go way, way up.   It might mean that clinics would be wary of taking on this legal responsibility, and that the availability of in vitro services might decline.  

    With respect to caring a child, it's not sufficient, from a legal point of view, to stick it in a closet and feed it once in a while.  You'll get put in jail for neglecting a child like that.  The custodial guardian has a responsibility to nurture the child.   Do embryos deserve any less?

    The current method of "caring" for an embryo is to stick it in the freezer until or unless someone wants it.  If no one wants it, we just leave it in the freezer until it dies (becomes non-viable).   That's child abuse, isn't it?   If the embryo dies, then we're looking at legal charges of the death of a child resulting from neglect.  

    Doesn't the state and federal government, then, have a responsibility to find a surrogate mother for each and every abandoned embryo so that it can be properly nurtured, just as it finds foster homes for abandoned children?   It follows that state governments would have to pay child support for these abandoned embryos, pay for their medical expenses including birth and support them until their eighteenth birthday or until someone adopted them.  It would be pretty complicated to find and pay surrogate mothers under the current foster child system.  It would probably require a lot of changes.  And, I see some potential for legal quagmires as it gets off the ground.  Who knows what kind of bizarre situations might come up.  When a foster parent doesn't meet their obligations, you remove the child from the home.  What do you do when a surrogate mother is not meeting her obligations?  It's not exactly practical to remove the child until it comes to term, is it?

    And, shouldn't all embryos be entitled to a decent burial, with all the associated expense, instead of being flushed down a drain.

    If an embryo is a human life, shouldn't we be tracking it?  Shouldn't the embryo have a social security number, so it can receive benefits on the death of its parents?   Shouldn't we change inheritance laws so that embryos have an equal standing with born children to receive an equal portion of the estate.

    If, as a society, we are going to put a stop to scientific research using stem cells from embryos on the basis that the embryo is a human life, then doesn't that mean we need to address all these other issues relating to the protection of an embryo as human life?

    You can't treat an embryo as human when its convenient and then treat it as an object when its not convenient.  This is an all or nothing proposition.  I don't think that anyone has adequately explained to the public all of the legal ramifications of this legal classification.

  •  it is easy to forget, especially now, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    just how destructive the Bushista stance on science in general, and on stem cells in particular, has been to the US' standing in the world.

    I have never in my 48 yrs experienced anything so anti-science as this administration. Except, perhaps, the middle age vestiges of the USSR when the idea of genes were turned into a political football and when corn was going to replace wheat in Ukraine, leading to massive famine. What we have experienced in America on the issues of science is just as destructive as the Ukraine famine. Except, it might take longer for us to recover from all things Bush.

    One result of our brain-dead, lobotomized, and even insane policies on stem cells is that our leadership has gone missing. WE used to have the best peer review system in the world. Being published here, meant that the world looked at your results and learned from it. Was it perfect? of course not, no system can be But it was damned good.
    But, by baning federal funds, and attacking other lines of research, we deliberately and potentially permanently, removed our crown of scientific leadership and replaced it with "faith" in a make-believe god, based on a badly translated collection of fairy tales bound together from many ancient cultures.

    Had Bush not been president, the US would have been at the forefront of this technology. Had we the normal peer review and fact-checking system on stem cells, no scientist in South Korea, France or Niger would publish anything as fraudulent as what happened in South Korea. They would have known that our system would have outed them.

    I did not see the ad to which you refer. My only surprise is that it took the rabid reicht this long to come up with a plan to counter their abject failure and disasterous handling of Mike Fox's appearance on TV.  They have lots of money and they plan to use it.

    To counter that, we have rational thinking, science and logic. I hope it is enough. the 2006 results and the recent refusals in Ohio, Misery, Colorado, and other states on the issue of Indulgent Design also give me hope that America will shake off this Bushista nightmare of anti-science and faith based edukashun once and for all.

    But, if we are not vigilent now and in the future, these cretins in biblical clothing will come back like a bad penny, bringing ever more disaster and destruction in their wake. And so long as they try to change real science into biblical studies, we must stand and fight. Otherwise, we risk becoming willing participants, or at least negligently lazy observers while these asshole brainwash the minds of their children and ours. That constitutes nothing less than mental child abuse of the highest order.

    In the United States, doing good has come to be, like patriotism, a favorite device of persons with something to sell. - Mencken

    by agnostic on Sun Jan 28, 2007 at 08:26:35 AM PST

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