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Stem cell edition.  

  • Eight Reasons to Applaud Action on Stem Cells from Center for American Progress, including:  

    Research on all other forms of stem cells will move forward. Opponents of human embryonic stem cell research often champion human adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood stem cells, and induced pluripotent stem cells as suitable alternatives to embryonic stem cells. Yet these approaches cannot be successful without research on human embryonic stem cells. The New York State Stem Cell Foundation reported in July 2008 that its chief scientific officer, Kevin Eggan, produced adult stem cell lines from patients with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Yet Eggan said he will still continue his work on human embryonic stem cell research because, "we couldn’t possibly be where we are now without first doing extensive work with human embryonic stem cells ... they remain the stem cell gold standard" against which all cells brought forth as alternatives must be measured.

  • Here's an example of what it means:

    Stem cell floodgates soon to be opened

    A developmental biologist who studies the pancreas, Charles Murtaugh wants to know if embryonic stem cells can be coaxed into becoming insulin-producing clusters, potentially replacing those ravaged by Type I diabetes.

    Now, the University of Utah researcher said, he's going to attempt to find out.

  • From Science magazine, the important corrolary:

    Obama Directive Called "Sea Change" for Scientific Integrity

    President Barack Obama's directive today to his science adviser to "restore scientific integrity to government decision-making" is a culmination of a long campaign by science advocacy groups against the policies of the Bush Administration. None of them was more active than the Union of Concerned Scientists, which produced its first report on "the politicization of science" in 2004 and which helped make scientific integrity an issue during the 2008 presidential campaign.

  • More from Science:

    Obama's Stem Cell Decision Gets Standing Ovation From Scientists

    WASHINGTON, D.C.—In the same chandeliered White House room where, 2 years ago, George W. Bush reaffirmed federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, President Barack Obama announced this morning that "we will lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research [and] will vigorously support scientists who pursue this research." Scientists are elated by the decision—and the Executive Order that accompanied it—a reversal of a policy first laid down by Bush on 9 August 2001.

    Do we think scientists are happy about this?

  • Innovation in medicine looks like this:

    A pilot program in Camden, N.J., has successfully reduced emergency department admissions and costs by targeting a small number of patients responsible for "racking up huge medical bills and straining already crowded" EDs, Kaiser Health News/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Established by the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, the program first examined ED use citywide and identified frequent ED users. These "super users" typically have complex health problems and do not have the financial or emotional means to fill prescriptions or make doctor appointments, according to Kaiser Health News/Inquirer.

    "Super users"? I thought they were referred to as "frequent fliers".

  • And why you can't just "do", you have to "check" and measure (aka outcomes research):  

    Dangling a financial carrot in front of doctors as a way to improve health quality has changed the way some doctors practice medicine, but has yet to significantly improve quality and may be interfering with doctor-patient relationships, researchers said on Tuesday.

    Pay-for-performance plans, in which doctors, hospitals and other providers receive more money if they meet certain goals, are seen as a way of boosting health quality.

    Despite the rapid adoption of these programs, there is little research about how well they work or what types of strategies work best.

  • Okay, back to reality.

    Health Sector Has Donated Millions to Lawmakers

    The biggest beneficiaries in the Senate included John McCain (R-Ariz.), with $546,000; Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), with $425,000; and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), with $413,000, who as head of the Finance Committee will play a leading role in the debate over health-care reform.

    In the House, it's Cantor and Boehner leading the pack, and Democrats as well:

    Rep. Earl Pomeroy (N.D.) received contributions from the insurance sector ($104,000), while  Rep. John D. Dingell (Mich.) took in $180,000 from drug companies. as well.

    I am simply shocked to find out there's gambling going on in this casino.

  • See also: Stem Cells:  The basics for kossacks.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:35 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Can I get a WooHOo for Obama lifting stemcell ban (15+ / 0-)

    This will open the floodgate for disease cures and the end of faithbased healthcare.

    Have you forgotten about jesus? Don't you think it's time that you did?

    by uc booker on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:37:36 AM PDT

  •  So Tuesday is health care day (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, m16eib, rontun


    To move forward, we must look at the past so the same characters don't pop up again. Impeach BushCo.

    by MsGrin on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:38:01 AM PDT

    •  tues and friday (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, m16eib, stitchmd, Stranded Wind

      see tag links here and here; scroll down.

      These are stories that are in addition to getting a full post.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:43:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  well, on the healthcare issue above (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DemFromCT, arielle, MsGrin

        namely, pay for performance: our office has been part of this pilot project for the last year. I spend at least 2 to 3 minutes of each visit for a Medicare patient, asking them things I wouldn't otherwise ask, looking through the chart to find things, checking off the ridiculous check boxes - and there's no explanation if a patient's blood pressure is up because they forgot to take their meds, etc. Meanwhile, it takes up time I could be, oh, I don't know, talking to patients and asking them actual pertinent questions, crazy as that may sound. It sure hasn't improved my practice, it's been more of a hindrance.

        Oh. And. We started a new "electronic" prescribing program, because Medicare is giving a boost to docs pay if they do that this year. I have never had so much trouble in my life. I'm getting questions from patients all the time about where their prescriptions are.

        But electronic health records are going to save the system, right?

        My patootie.

        Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without - WSCoffin

        by stitchmd on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 12:35:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  email me - Chronic Tonic (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I have an entry for Chronic Tonic but I'm not clever enough to puzzle out your email address. Mine's in profile ...

      I'm an Emersonian Transcendentalist. What's your excuse?

      by Stranded Wind on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:46:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

        Recommended by:
        m16eib, Stranded Wind

        I met a woman in West Palm Beach 5 years ago.  She was the Keynote Speaker at the Juvenille Diabetes Fundraiser.

        She was cured with Stem Cells.  She was a woman just waiting to die....She had 3 kids and a husband who were well off.  A pharmaceutical company used her as a guinea pig with the stem cells.  Today, she takes no insulin.


  •  Vets with post-traumatic stress fight for aid (4+ / 0-)

    It was during his first deployment in Iraq that Marine Cpl. David Tracy, 23, of Peekskill earned his Purple Heart.

    "I was up top behind the gun when we stopped at a checkpoint and a roadside bomb exploded on the other side of the barrier," said Tracy, an infantryman who served as a machine gunner in Baghdad and Fallujah.

    Shrapnel nearly blew off Tracy's right earlobe.

    Rest with Video Here

    "How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless you don't count American soldiers as Americans."

    by jimstaro on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:38:42 AM PDT

  •  Revamp the VA (7+ / 0-)

    Under cheney/bush/gop, With Two Theaters of Occupations, Incompetence Reigned

    The men and women who have fought for our country as members of our armed forces ask relatively little of their country after they complete their service.

    In many cases, a simple thank you and appreciation for their sacrifice is enough. But they do ask - and deserve - at least one other thing as they return to the private sector. They would like for the promises made to them by the government to be kept.

    That clearly hasn't been the case. A recent report by the Veterans Affairs Department documents case after case in which mail and other important papers for health claims remained unopened, mishandled or manipulated in some way. One effect is that veterans have been delayed or denied care. Another effect is that the department that is supposed to care for and assist our nation's heroes has suffered yet another blow to its credibility.

    It's simplistic to say, but nonetheless true, that it simply shouldn't be this way.

    Rest Found Here

    "How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless you don't count American soldiers as Americans."

    by jimstaro on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:39:55 AM PDT

  •  A question about adult vs. embryonic SCs (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    m16eib, sherlyle, Stranded Wind

    A wingnut aquaintance of mine threw a virtual hissyfit yesterday (which I had to laugh at, given she was calling anyone who disagreed with her a 'bigot'), saying that:

    1. any stem cell research that has worked has been on adult, not embryonic stem cells, hinting that embryonic stem cell research is unnecessary.
    1. researchers always had the option of funding the embryonic research themselves - the actual experimentation was never banned.

    I honestly don't know the refutations of this.  Have embryonic SCs been tested and are not as useful as adults?  Why are embryonic SCs necessary for testing?  Why hasn't anyone invested in research without government grants?

    Mind you, I'm very very happy to see this come to fruition, but when I laugh at the wingnuts, I'd like to have some facts to give them, as well.

    What we don't know keeps the contracts alive and movin. They don't gotta burn the books, they just remove em while arms warehouses fill as quick as the cells.

    by Black Leather Rain on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:41:04 AM PDT

    •  all nonsense (7+ / 0-)
      1. quote her the adult stem cell researcher, first post up at the top. Embroyonic cells have been studied, are invaluable, and are leading to (hopefully) the eventual ability to use adult stem cells. They go hand in glove.
      1. I can fund it myself. I have $34.36 in my wallet. However, if the govt. does it, it'll get done faster and better. State govts. have taken it upon themselves to do some funding as have private groups. But there's no substitute for grants from NIH for academic prestige, amounts, access to data and "in-system" research via a working system.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:48:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's not just grants... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        arielle, SS Eye

        NIH has a lot of resources and equipment which is essential for many scientific research projects to get off the ground and through the rigorous review processes, etc. Private funded labs often get stumped partway through their research projects because they can't get access to NIH or other govt lab facilities to complete them.  Obama's reversal order should open many more doors in many different ways.

    •  total nonsense (5+ / 0-)

      There have been a flow of articles about adult stem cells, which do show some promise, but the pluripotential embryonic cells pretty much kick ass. What you heard is a total 180 from reality ...

      I'm an Emersonian Transcendentalist. What's your excuse?

      by Stranded Wind on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:50:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  ok, a few answers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Black Leather Rain

      on point 2, yes, partly true; this is why Harvard funded its own stem cell institute.  Harvard is probably the only institution in the world big and rich enough to pull that off.  That work is ongoing.  It is enormously cumbersome to try and separate out all the lab personnel, their time, the equipment, etc. (imagine placing one bulk order for eppendorf tubes for the regular labs and a separate one for the stem cell lab - it gets pretty stupid).

      I'm pretty sure that Bush banned work on all but already established cell lines, though.

      To point 1:  simply wrong.  There are different types of stem cells, and we don't understand nearly well enough how any of them work.  All of them have pros and cons, but to say that embryonic stem cell research is unnecessary or that it doesn't contribute to our body of knowledge is not true.

      Some research that has brought forth some useful results has indeed been in part on adult stem cells.  However, that work has proceeded in the face of a ban on work on other tissue.  It's similar to saying, I'm taking your shoes, hey look you can still walk, guess you didn't need shoes.

  •  Show Us the Money: (4+ / 0-)

    Iraq Veterans React to the VA Budget

    A few weeks ago, the White House unveiled its budget with the fanfare and media blitz fit for a coronation. While the big proposals on climate change and health care took center stage in the dog-and-pony show, the budget also included an outline of funding for every veterans’ hospital and clinic nationwide.

    So what did team IAVA think of Obama’s plan for veterans?

    Overall, the President seems to have put his money where his mouth is. The top line number for veterans’ discretionary funding is about $1.2 billion higher than the amount recommended by leading veterans’ organizations, including IAVA. The budget plans increase VA funding by $25 billion over five years. That’s a real victory.

    Of course, the entire annual veterans’ budget is still less than we’ve given AIG since September – but I’ll put that aside for a moment, and get to the real policy. Despite his skills on the basketball court, Obama’s budget is still not a slam dunk for veterans.

    "How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless you don't count American soldiers as Americans."

    by jimstaro on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:41:25 AM PDT

  •  Howard Dean has a few words for Republicans (6+ / 0-)

    when it comes to passing health care

    Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean warned that Republicans who stand against the president's health care plan or try to label it "socialized medicine" will suffer at the polls in 2010, and admitted "enough is enough" when it comes to the Rush Limbaugh hullabaloo.

    He also dropped this little tidbit

    Mr. Dean said in the last three weeks he had a "very cordial" lunch with Mr. Emanuel and political adviser David Axelrod in the White House.

    Last but not least - Dean is not a lobbyist

    he was quick to point out he's "not a registered lobbyist," a label that would make it tougher to get a job in the Obama administration.

    •  Kitty, thanks for the link. I'd never have read (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kitty, m16eib

      the article otherwise, normally avoiding the Washington Times like the plague.

      "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." JFK - January 20, 1961

      by rontun on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:51:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Earl Pomeroy likes high fives. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As you can see by this photo essay.

    He's good on some issues but let's watch him closely. And remember, he's from North Dakota where the House declared life begins at conception a few weeks back.

    There's something attractive about invincible ignorance... for the first 5 seconds.

    by MNPundit on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:42:45 AM PDT

  •  Let's not forget that Obama got big money from (4+ / 0-)

    the health care industry as well.  Obama collected $18.7 million from them.  (Source:

    •  true, but.... (0+ / 0-)

      he also has a personal stake in this. In one of his campaign speeches, he told the story of his own mother lying in the hospital with terminal cancer and having to spend the last few months of her life fighting with insurance companies. That should account for some serious mojo with obama's health care reform agenda, regardless whether he accepted $ from big insurance or not... We won't see a drastic switch to a universal,  single payer system right away -- it will have to be gradual, with the insurance companies involved at first. But eventually......

  •  More prayers for my niece with cancer (10+ / 0-)
    She has lung cancer and was told she has 2 months to live several days ago... She has a 6 year old daughter and in another couple months she wont have a mother..
    If stem cell research found a cure for her cancer in the next several years I would hold Bush personally responsible for her suffering.But with Iraq and everything else Bush has done he dosent give a rats ass......
  •  I'll need a new kidney (7+ / 0-)

    One of these years, thanks to cysts on both kidneys, I'm going to be in need of a replacement. I'm thin, no smoking, no drinking, etc, so I'm keeping on top of the stuff I can control, but this is coming at me.

    Hopefully in the 2020 - 2030 timeframe, when this will become urgent for me, I'll simply be able to order one up rather than waiting for someone else to die.

    I'm an Emersonian Transcendentalist. What's your excuse?

    by Stranded Wind on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:45:50 AM PDT

  •  jobs (6+ / 0-)

    I personally know 3 doctors who moved to Europe to continue this research--if/when they come back, they will need labs and assistants--and that will create jobs.

  •  I've not thought much of Max Baucus from afar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    m16eib, Stranded Wind

    and, I'm not feeling at all comfortable with him as he becomes up-close in these days of crafting health coverage's next step forward at the federal level.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:47:58 AM PDT

  •  Nobody gets near high office without $$$$ (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, m16eib, Stranded Wind

    and at least cordial relations with big banks and big pharma, etc.

    I was hoping "Health Care Tuesday" would include some recommended activism to help our cause.

    How about this quick info and action link?

    Media Reform Action Link

    by LNK on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:48:56 AM PDT

  •  WWJSMD? (what would John Sidney McCain do?) (4+ / 0-)

    North Korea wants to "launch" a satellite and threatens war.  Again.  China is playing blind man's bluff in the South China Sea.  Iran wants to test another long range missile.

    Are McCain's meds up to it?  

    Aren't you glad he isn't President?  He'd probably have said that you can buy junk health insurance with money you don't have while his anger meds wear off and he nukes China.

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    -Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:49:16 AM PDT

  •  the Bush Cult... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, m16eib, Stranded Wind

    ...will puzzle historians for a very long time.  How a nation that was the world's innovator in so many scientific endeavors choose to turn it's back on the very engine that drove our innovation,(and wealth) is utterly amazing. It was a philosophy totally outside the American experience, one must go back to the middle ages and Spanish Inquisition (which nobody ever expects) to find such a bizarre theology.

    What the hell's going on out here--Vince Lombardi -6.75/-5.85

    by Patrick B on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:49:35 AM PDT

  •  Time for Doctor Dean (4+ / 0-)

    At least as Surgeon General.  Dean is a Doctor, a general practioner no less, and he provided every kid in Vermont access to health care.  So he has walked ther walk.  Without him, and I am sorry but Rahm Emanuel's doctor brother does not do it for me (did anyone say nepotism), all I see are compromised politicians cutting deals and listening to inane and self serving arguments from the folks who have defined health in this country as a mean of selling products and services.  All these politicnas, on the left and the right and center have taken money from interests who want their bite at 15 percent of the economy that really should only be 10 percent or less of the economy.

    Without someone like Dr. Dean in the mix, I just see more waste, more reckless growth and mroe self dealing that will make the Medicare prescription benefits look like child's play.

  •  Here in the 19th century (6+ / 0-)

    our local media is providing solace for the residents;

    President Obama's decision to ease restrictions on funding of embryonic stem-cell research will have little impact on Arizona's universities because the state has its own limits on such controversial research methods.

    Tell me why I live here again?

  •  I find it interesting (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, m16eib

    that they include "emotional" means to make doctor's appointments as well as financial in the "super-users" category -- whether these are people who just say, "everything's fine" when they know it's not, or people who avoid going to a doctor because they're scared of bad news until they wind up flat on their back from a heart attack or stroke.

    "The party of Lincoln is now the Party of Limbaugh" -- Paul Begala

    by Cali Scribe on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:52:45 AM PDT

    •  Not likely either (0+ / 0-)

      People who say "everything's fine" and don't go to a doctor because they're scared of bad news also don't tend to go to the ER 15 times a month. And nobody has a heart attack 15 times a month. "Super-users" in the "emotional means" category would likely include the dude who fakes seizures and goes to the ER every single day because ... well, I don't know, but it's not doing anybody any good, least of all him.

  •  Georgia Passes the Opposite Kind of Law (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, arielle, m16eib, sherlyle

    First thing I do every morning is get a cup of tea and check Google News to see what's happening. This morning: Georgia is passing a law that prohibits stem-cell research. I wonder if this could be a harbinger of Republican resistance to the Obama government---make it all a States' Rights fight. (Of course, local control doesn't count when the issue is gun control law).

  •  This continues to trouble me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The debate has focused on what good embryonic stem cell research can do.  This is a false debate.  The debate should be over whether the embryos are human life or not.  If they are not human life, then of course they should be used for a greater good.  If they are human life, then greater good does not justify intentionally killing human life.  I think reasonable people can conclude that an embryo is human life, but the debate has been focused on emotions of medical advances.  Medical advances would not justify intentionally harming a child, adult or elderly person unless that child, adult or elderly person were not human -- but unless we have a debate over what is being used and whether it is human life or not, then this decision yesterday is, IMHO, one of the most horrifying moments of abandonments of logic, the common law legal tradition, and real philosophical debate.

    •  not harming a child, SCL (5+ / 0-)

      I've posted a diary with a complete explanation of exactly what stem cells are.  They are human cells, and they are alive, but they are not human beings.

      I disagree that reasonable people familiar with the topic will conclude that embryonic stem cells are individual humans.  I don't think it's a useful debate to have in the absence of information, so have done what I can to introduce the missing information.

      I do agree that directing the discussion away from the questions that get people upset and focusing only on therapeutic benefits is an unhelpful way to proceed.

      •  can you link? ;-) n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        m16eib, Support Civil Liberty

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 08:06:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Then I'm probably not reasonable in your eyes (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        m16eib, Crazed Weasel

        I cheer you for focusing on the real issue of whether the embryos are humans or not.  I agree that the stem cells are not an individual human life, any more than my right thumb does not become a new me when cut off.  By the embryo must intentionally be destroyed in order to use the stem cells.  I do think reasonable people can conclude one way or the other on whether an embryo is human life.  I think there is no clear way to know whether the embryo is an individual human life, but I know that it is something new that without doubt it has crossed a transformative stage (fertilization) in which whatever it is grows into an individual human being.  Since I cannot conclude satisfactorily to my conscience that it is not an individual human life, then considering the evil of intentionally killing a human if I am wrong, then I defer to the assumption that it is a human life.  

        I recall the example given in my first year of law school in torts that if a person shoots at a door in which he/she is positive there is no one behind the door but all facts lead the person to be wrong and indeed there is a person behind the door, then the shooter is not liable. If the person shoots at the door and is not sure whether someone is behind the door, then the person is liable if there is someone behind the door. The shooter should have defered to there being a person behind the door because he/she was in doubt whether a human being would be directly harmed by the shooting action.  This how I see the embryos, I am not convinced they are not human life and my conscience compels me to defer to them as human life until proven otherwise.

        •  I am certain they are not (5+ / 0-)

          and so are many others? Where does that leave us?

          "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

          by Greg Dworkin on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 08:22:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It leaves us (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DemFromCT, m16eib

            with a reasonable disagreement.  Not all of us who do not support embryonic stem cell research are crazed dues-paying members of the Family Research Council.  As I've written, I think reasonable people can disagree on this issue.  You have won the politics of this issue though I think it is a bad day for the human community; if ever it is reversed, I would only ask that you be open minded that there are many ethical and philosophical arguments as to why someone can conclude that an embryo is a human life in which protection must be afforded.

        •  well, you sound fairly reasonable... (3+ / 0-)

          SCL, you do sound reasonable.  I'm too close to the biology to buy the argument that an inner cell mass is a person, that's all.  I don't think fertilization defines humanity--that becomes a fairly bizarre case to make pretty quickly.

          There are many stages of transformation, not just fertilization.  I suspect that different people could pick any point along the developmental timeline as their preferred starting point.

          The shooter and the door analogy begs the question--at no point in that scenario are you concerned with defining a human; you're simply locating one.

          Thanks for engaging in the discussion.  It's helpful to hear other points of view.

          •  Picking a point (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Ah, and that's my point!  A person could pick a point anywhere along the line of development and make an argument that is line.  The fact the someone can do that is what makes me uneasy about picking any point along development.  So, after thinking for many years about this and not knowing where to pick the point, I think the rational point to pick is fertilization.  I tend to think that the further out one goes in picking the point, the more difficult it is to keep the point early -- it keeps moving further and further along the lines and even outside the room.  There has been about 15 years of legal literature discussing whether phenomenal interaction (i.e., communication between humans) is the primary indicia of an individual human life; the literature has frightening consequences.  I prefer to have my conscience at ease and pick fertilization.

    •  you need to start with the current practice (4+ / 0-)

      of discarding embryos in fertility clinics. They go in the garbage. That is current policy, every day.

      Of course, no one wants to take that on. Fertility clinics are hugely popular, and the fact that the otherwise discarded embryos would now be used to save lives and do research that might even make themselves obsolete (by explaining how adult stem cells could do the job) is part of the whole.

      however, this should be (I agree with you) a bioethical discussion, not a science one. And (see earlier Musings post) science doesn't set policy, it informs policy.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 08:06:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Question (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      arielle, m16eib, Crazed Weasel

      Do you see any difference between a group of cells so small it is not visible to the naked eye, and a blond five year-old named Mary Anne who just lost her first baby tooth, is afraid of wasps, really likes grilled cheese sandwiches, and wants to show you her new doll?

      That group of cells: does it have a Social Security number? Can you buy a life insurance policy on it? Can you buy it a plane ticket? If it spontanously lets go of its tiny hold on life and passes out of its mother's uterus in a flow of blood, can you get a Death Certificate for it?

      It isn't a person.

      •  Let's hope SS#'s are not determinative of life (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        No, those cells cannot buy a plane ticket or engage in dialogue on a website.  But neither can a newborn baby; in fact, a newborn baby or an elderly person with severe Alzheimers must be cared for by others or they will die.  Does the fact that they cannot communicate or take care of themselves (or buy an airplane ticket) make them any less human than you or I?  It is very difficult to draw the line; when is a human a human?  3 cells, 30 cells, 3000 cells, 3 million cells, able to string a subject and verb together, toilet trained, nearing death but unconscious?  I think this is an unfortunate society in which we divert precious resources away from basic care of humans to focus on manipulations of human life. We are not islands unto ourselves; we live in community and the real test of our mettle in social justice is how we protect the voiceless, the impaired, the poor and wrongly condemned.  I see a continuum here but this is increasingly discarded for our consumerist ends.

    •  Orthodox Judaism's position favors ESCR (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      arielle, m16eib, edsbrooklyn, JesseCW

      Our Torah tradition places great value upon human life; we are taught in the opening chapters of Genesis that each human was created in G-d's very image. The potential to save and heal human lives is an integral part of valuing human life from the traditional Jewish perspective. Moreover, our rabbinic authorities inform us that an isolated fertilized egg does not enjoy the full status of person-hood and its attendant protections. Thus, if embryonic stem cell research can help us preserve and heal humans with greater success, and does not require or encourage the destruction of life in the process, it ought to be pursued.

      This is the official position of the largest group of Orthodox rabbis in America.

    •  By that logic, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SS Eye

      cancer cells are "human life".

      We are not talking about "children" here.

      We are talking about human cells that are not attached to a uterine wall and are not going to be implanted in one but rather thrown into an incinerator or left frozen in perpetuity.

      My leg is human life and pretty important to me but if the disease that is killing me caused gangrene in it, I'm pretty sure I'd cut the damn thing off.

  •  links for single payer activism (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arielle, m16eib, needtovent, edsbrooklyn
    This was triggered by a a direct email to me and to the Kos Health gmail google group:

    1.  The Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care (LCGHC) is the newly organized national alliance for single payer healthcare reform publicly funded, privately delivered healthcare for all; the coalition of groups promoting comprehensive reform legislation to guarantee health care for all Americans as a basic human right:

    Organizing Resources include scheduling of visits congressional visits (across the top) and local contacts of other activists (down column on left)

    2.  HealthCare-Now is the longtime citizens (e.g., not doctors in the name such as PNHP)activist and organizing group:

    Lots of links and listserv/email sign-ups regarding upcoming public actions, call and write your congressperson days, ralllies, endorsement campaigns, etc

    And also, state and local contacts:

    3.  Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP): Despite the name the organization is open to non-physicians

    Detailed policy wonk information: (scroll down)

    State & local single payer activist groups & individual contacts: (click on map)

    News: (click on sections new, qotd, etc.)

  •  lol - posted a primer on stem cells last night (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DemFromCT, arielle, m16eib, edsbrooklyn

    honestly I had no idea this post was coming... but I posted a diary last night that runs through the basics of what stem cells are.  

    And Kevin Eggan's pretty awesome.

  •  Last night in MB's eco diary rescue (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arielle, m16eib, arlene, Crazed Weasel

    I wrote the following re: a particularly galling op-ed by Yuval Levin in WaPo:

    I hope to god one of our
    scientists takes on the idiotic op-ed piece by Yuval Levin in today's WaPo.  You just know what the thesis will be when you find that Mr. Levin served as executive director of the President's Council on Bioethics from 2003 to 2005.

    It starts with

    What you think of his policy depends on what you think of the moral status of embryos. If (as modern biology informs us) conception initiates a human life, and if (as the Declaration of Independence asserts) every human life is equally deserving of some minimal protections, government support for the destruction of human embryos for research raises profound moral problems. But if you think an embryo is not quite a person, or that its immaturity or inability to suffer pain or its other qualities mean that destroying an embryo does not amount to taking a life, the promise of stem cell science might well outweigh any doubts.

    Um, huh?  Moral status of a blastocyte?  Whose morality, Mr. Levin?  The morality of the criminal enterprise under which you served and abetted anti-science?

    And then there is

    Modern science offers tremendously powerful means of knowing and doing. It is the role of elected policymakers to consider the knowledge that science offers and the power it gives us, and to balance these with other priorities -- be they economic as in the case of environmental policy, strategic as in the case of nonproliferation or moral as in the case of embryonic stem cells.

    WTF????  Um, Mr. Levin -- guess what, your side lost -- we no longer have to live by this bullshite anymore.  The rest of the article is just as idiotic.  

    You'll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race. - G.B. Shaw, "Misalliance"

    by gchaucer2 on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 07:59:35 AM PDT

    •  where I think the anti-side comes from (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      arielle, m16eib, gchaucer2

      I have precious little insight into how anti-stem cell research people think, but their argument may (in their heads) run something like, "these are human cells, they are alive, ergo they are human life," and that's where they get the "all sensible biologists agree with me" line.

      Of course I don't think sensible biologists would agree that any living human tissue constitutes a human being.  Maybe that's a useful path from which to argue...if there's any possibility of rational discussion with those folks.

      •  if you take a nasal brushing (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        arielle, m16eib, Crazed Weasel, gchaucer2

        and look at the tiny microscopic hairs that move... is that human life, which cannot then be destroyed? Of course not. Human cells do not constitute life, else biopsies would never be permitted.

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 08:11:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wonder about what they'd make of iPS (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Dem, I really wonder what the anti side would make of induced pluripotent stem cells.  If the argument is that if it could potentially develop into a person, then you can't morally use cells that have been induced to a state of pluripotency any more than you could use embryonic cells.

          (and then if any cell could be induced in theory, it'd be morally unpermissible to let any human tissue die.  Argh.)

      •  I think that there are two sources (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Crazed Weasel

        The first is the theological position that a fertilized embryo is a full human being. My religions does not agree with that position, but I can understand where they come from.

        The second is a slippery slope argument that if you allow something as innocent as in vitro fertilization, you will eventually get into designing babies, and elimination of those who are considered less desirable. In fact, we do need rules to deal with such situations. Judaism has a large corpus of medical ethics literature that deals with this, but there aren't enough Jews in America that I would want to force the Jewish position on the general population.

    •  Didn't someone on Bush's Council (0+ / 0-)

      of Bioethics have a moral objection to ice cream cones?

      These folks aren't wingnuts, they are just nuts.

      Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without - WSCoffin

      by stitchmd on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 01:35:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Orszag's testifying now before the Senate Finance (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    m16eib, sherlyle

    committee on the health care reform measures that are in the budget request. It's on C-Span until the House returns, I guess.

    Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

    by bumblebums on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 08:00:32 AM PDT

  •  Speaking of Health Care, Abortions Are Up (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    m16eib, bushondrugs

    "Recession Fallout Gets Very Personal", Chicago Tribune 3-10-09. Planned Parenthood reports more abortions in January 2009 than any month in the agency's history. People in a bad economy sometimes can't afford their contraceptive drugs or devices. Resulting undesired pregnancies are seen as unmanageable ("we can't afford another baby") and abortion is opted. Interesting long article which can probably be googled. Author is Deborah L Shelton.

  •  Consistent with more abortions occuring (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    m16eib, sherlyle

    Bush's terms in office than during Clinton's 8 years, both in total and per capita.

    Single Payer...NOW!!!

    by Egalitare on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 08:05:30 AM PDT

    •  So much for abstinence only (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      sex ed.... The economy not withstanding, maybe if frank sex ed hadn't been so stifled in the schools for the last 8 years, morphing into an 'abstinence only' curriculum, maybe there would be fewer pregnancies. Just MHO.

  •  wrecking the flu shot,nice going health care syst (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arielle, m16eib
    Read this to see how we go one step forward,2 back.

  •  Another Single Payer National Call In Day (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Support Civil Liberty

    In my email inbox from COMA-CT: Another national call in day in support of H.R. 676. But before you do, we all want you to take a minute and dig through your drawers for some of your your insurance papers if you have any. With emphasis on paperwork showing these death dealers denials of service:

    So on March 10th, 2009, we will host a deluge of activity in support of HR 676.

    We ask that you join with thousands of others to call Congress and fax your health insurance bill or letter of denial to your Congresspersons.

    If you don't know your Congresspersons, or want a script and sample fax coversheets, all of the information you need is on our National Call-In Day page.

    They have additional information at the Healthcare-NOW! site. And please remember to blank out personal information like you Social Security number You don't want your activism to result in identity theft.

  •  It's not "The Health Sector"!!!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arielle, m16eib, arlene

    Health Sector Has Donated Millions to Lawmakers

    It's "The Insurance Sector."  Health insurance companies do not provide health services any more than State Farm provides automobiles.  The only way we will defeat the health insurance lobby once and for all, and make serious changes in our health system, is to start making this distinction again and again and again. Repeat after me: The Insurance Industry.

    Make it a talking point; Doctors provide health care; insurance companies DO NOT.

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 08:17:19 AM PDT

  •  Regarding physician pay for performance (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arielle, m16eib, stitchmd

    My wife is a practicing physician and worked under some of those "pay for performance" systems. Basically, the "performance" amounted to "see as many patients as you possibly can". She now is at a different job and gets paid a flat rate.

  •  I am a type 1 Diabetic (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arielle, m16eib, nipit

    and the news that he reversed the government's stance on stem cells made me burst into tears of joy.

    I don't see them figuring anything out in time to help me, (I'm  almost 40 years old and have been diabetic for 27 years), but if they can save the next generation I would be overjoyed.

    Senators suck. Can i have a chairmanship now?

    by jaslusher on Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 08:39:08 AM PDT

  •  Just use the embryos (0+ / 0-)

    and say it is something else.

  •  We voted for HOPE and CHANGE and we are (0+ / 0-)

    getting it!

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