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Should a President criminalize research which might return vision to the blind?

The four leading Republican candidates apparently think so.

Read on.

Obama Proved Right On Stem Cells: Republican Candidates Would Have Criminalized Breakthrough

First published on Huffington Post, 01/23/2012

 If any of the four Republicans currently threatening to become President had been in office today, America would have missed a chance to return vision to the blind.

What do Romney, Gingrich, Paul and Santorum have in common?

All four have accepted the ludicrous "personhood" stand that full human rights begin when sperm meets egg, caving in to the religious right in terms of stem cell research. On national television, Romney pledged to support a personhood Amendment to the Constitution, and the other three have signed a personhood pledge, as well as appearing at personhood rallies.

This new legal definition would not only have removed forever women's freedom of choice, but also criminalized many forms of birth control, the In Vitro Fertility procedure -- and embryonic stem cell research.

Such nonsense would have prevented the glorious news that Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. has not only had a safety success in the world's first embryonic stem cell attempt to treat blindness, but has actually achieved a degree of improvement.

... two women, both registered as blind, saw their vision improve in a matter of weeks after being given the embryo-derived cells in the US safety trial. The breakthrough holds out the hope of cure in the future for age-related macular degeneration....
--"Human stem cell therapy works in blind patients in first trial", Stephen Adams, The Telegraph, 1/23/2012

It is not a miracle, but rather one in a long series of steps that must be taken if we are to deal with chronic disease and disability.

Importantly, these are not the "stem cell tourism" results conmen talk about; these are FDA-approved trials, the measure of American science and world medicine.

As a presidential candidate, Obama understood that science must be protected from the fanatical fringe of anti-science religion. He could easily have played it safe and stayed neutral, taken a wait and see attitude, but he did not. He promised in his campaign that he would overturn the Bush restrictions on stem cell research, and he kept his word.

As a result, today we are one step nearer to restoring sight to the blind. But what a step! Imagine slowly going blind as happens so often in age-related blindness -- and then having sight return. Macular degeneration is the number one cause of adult onset blindness.

And it would have been illegal under presidencies of Gingrich, Romney, Santorum or Paul -- the un-fantastic four.

 Follow Don C. Reed on Twitter: www.twitter.com/diverdonreed

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