Bush vs. Science
April 22, 2003 11:31 AM   Subscribe

Bush vs. Science. George Bush's religion-based, restrictive policies on stem cell research continues to stunt medical research that could help millions of Americans. He is hindering research that could help treat and possibly cure Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, spinal cord injuries, and heart disease. We are told that America is supposed to unite behind our troops. Shouldn't we be united behind our scientists, who are fighting battles against crippling, cruel diseases that bring suffering and death to millions of Americans?
posted by crookdimwit (62 comments total)
 
Maybe they could use Iraqi stem cells.. That's probably something GW can get behind.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:44 AM on April 22, 2003


Hindering scientific research that hurts only "5-day-old human embryos" (Bush vs. Science) is plain immoral. I would strongly urge all Christians who don't support Bush's view on this issue to loudly speak out against him. There are lives at stake. Stop letting the crazies speak for your religion.
posted by callmejay at 11:46 AM on April 22, 2003


We are told that America is supposed to unite behind our troops. Shouldn't we be united behind our scientists, who are fighting battles against crippling, cruel diseases that bring suffering and death to millions of Americans?

Even MeFi's lefty groupthink can tell when it's being pandered to, one would hope.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 11:54 AM on April 22, 2003


But opponents of the current policy said the United States stands to fall behind other countries with access to more advanced cell lines and more open research policies.

"It seems to me it would be foolish for a physician or researcher to use possibly contaminated lines in a patient or research protocol when other lines are available," said Anthony Mazzaschi, associate vice president at the Association of American Medical Colleges. The new advances, he said, "will put a great deal of pressure on Bush's policy."


Great deal of pressure or not, he's already shown that the opinion of the masses means nothing to him.
posted by Espoo2 at 11:54 AM on April 22, 2003


AIDS patients do not threaten the Bush regime's power.
posted by four panels at 11:59 AM on April 22, 2003


this foetus is much more interesting.
posted by angry modem at 12:04 PM on April 22, 2003


Shouldn't we be united behind our scientists...?
depends. are we talking corporate scientists, government scientists or creation scientists?
posted by quonsar at 12:07 PM on April 22, 2003


Baby Jesus don't like stem cell research. Baby Jesus got mad pull with the GOP.
posted by xmutex at 12:09 PM on April 22, 2003


People-farming is immoral, regardless of the motivation.
posted by greengirl at 12:15 PM on April 22, 2003


Even MeFi's lefty groupthink can tell when it's being pandered to, one would hope.

Thank god we have independant thinkers like yourself to point that out.
posted by Ty Webb at 12:17 PM on April 22, 2003




He used to pitch for the Orioles, no?
posted by dhoyt at 12:20 PM on April 22, 2003


You're welcome.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 12:21 PM on April 22, 2003


My favorite commentary on this subject is from "South Park" where Christopher Reeve is able to walk by biting the head off a fetus and sucking the blood out.

Crying "groupthink" in a discussion of politics or religion is way lazy, and often innaccurate. For crissake, the subtitle of this webite is, "You're wrong! No, you're wrong!"
posted by McBain at 12:28 PM on April 22, 2003


People-farming is immoral, regardless of the motivation

The "people" aren't people, and no one wants to kill children purely for their stem cells.

I didn't mean to imply that I'm somehow superior when I made the above comment. I was trying to be sarcastic/ironic, not start another left/right flamewar. If anything, I'm a member of said groupthink.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 12:30 PM on April 22, 2003


(It doesn't sound like Y @ N was "crying groupthink", it sounds like he was facetiously saying the post was pandering to the oft-perceived MeFi contingent of groupthinkers--right?)
posted by dhoyt at 12:33 PM on April 22, 2003


Crying "groupthink" in a discussion of politics or religion is way lazy, and often innaccurate.

On the other hand, crying "DiscussionFilter," while also way lazy, and possibly rude, is at least accurate.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:39 PM on April 22, 2003


Greengirl,

If I masturbate am I killing little children?
Do we use weed killer and fertilizer on people farms?
Are people farms John Deere green?
posted by nofundy at 12:43 PM on April 22, 2003


If I masturbate am I killing little children?

I guess that would depend on your technique.
posted by dgaicun at 12:48 PM on April 22, 2003


People-farming is immoral, regardless of the motivation

Do we use weed killer and fertilizer on people farms?



Old Mathowie Had a Farm

Me-Fi-Me-Fi-O!

And on this farm he grew some people

Me-Fi-Me-Fi-O!

With a "bitch-bitch" here and "moan-moan" there

Old Mathowie Had a Farm

Me-Fi-Me-Fi-O!
posted by jonmc at 12:48 PM on April 22, 2003


The Christian Right is not either.
posted by Satapher at 12:48 PM on April 22, 2003


McBain: That's completely out of line, and it's typical of the type of distortion you conservative bastards will resort to. Christopher Reeve never bit the head off a fetus. He just cracked it open at the neck and sucked the blood out.

On a more serious note: This Christian obsession with baby souls does seem kind of odd to me. They see that an embryo can eventually become a human, so they assume it must have a soul. Why don't they feel the same way about animals or rocks?
posted by son_of_minya at 12:49 PM on April 22, 2003


It's more than just stem cells. There's an op-ed-like article [NYTimes] by Lawrence Krauss that says some pretty harsh stuff about the White House. (e.g. "It appears that this administration is marginalizing the recommendations of major scientific organizations on the one hand, while defending artificial 'research' to support political goals, or, worse still, manufacturing it.")

[/ontopic]

I like fetuses. They're just like little children, except for the partially-formed bits.
posted by ptermit at 12:50 PM on April 22, 2003


Lysenko, anyone?
posted by gimonca at 1:02 PM on April 22, 2003


This morning's USA Today discusses the presence of stem cells in, of all things, baby teeth. This might give new meaning to the tooth fairy. ("Leave your teeth under the pillow, and sometime during the night, a winged Alzheimers researcher will take them away.") How much money per tooth, I wonder? I only got twenty-five cents. Hey, I was robbed!
posted by thomas j wise at 1:08 PM on April 22, 2003


On a more serious note: This Christian obsession with baby souls does seem kind of odd to me.

not really

posted by larry_darrell at 1:20 PM on April 22, 2003


Dying just doesn't get the respect it deserves sometimes.

And we all know where stem cell research leads... cyborgs. Then it's all over.
posted by Witty at 2:14 PM on April 22, 2003


From what I know about stem cell harvesting, it doesn't differ too greatly from organ donation.

You can argue guardianship vs. autonomy, however at this point these lines are still harvested from recently deceased cadavers. It is my understanding that folks are not 'growing' babies just for the purpose of harvesting their stem cells.

Also.. not to toss aside the underlying morality of the situation, but we are talking about less than several hundred stem cell lines worldwide. The United States alone is only questioning the validity of approximately 60 lines.
posted by jazzkat11 at 3:06 PM on April 22, 2003


TJW: I haven't seen the USA Today article, but this most likely reflects the confusion between pluripotent stem cells and multipotent stem cells.

Embryonic stem cells, around which all the controversy swirls, are pluripotent, meaning they can give rise to any type of developed cells.

Multipotent stem cells, on the other hand, can give rise to several different types of cells, but not any type. For example, there are stem cells in the bone marrow which can produce any type of blood cell (red cells, various types of white cells, platelets), but not a muscle cell, for example. Multipotent stem cells are well known and their use in research is entirely non-controversial, but they do not hold the therapeutic promise that embryonic stem cells do. The stem cells in baby teeth are almost certainly multipotent stem cells. (If they were in fact pluripotent cells, that would indeed be surprising and newsworthy.)

For more see here.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:15 PM on April 22, 2003


In general, I agree with jonmc

It's a difficult question, and I'm surprised anyone can immediately have a point of view on this.

On the one hand you have the potentially amazing discoveries to be had by stem cell research. And I do mean amazing - The ability to regrow any limb or organ of the human body.

On the other hand, the wasteful destruction of embryos which would otherwise have become human beings.
(and yes, I know I'm missing out a great deal here).
posted by BigCalm at 3:17 PM on April 22, 2003


In my mind, the only reason to be against embryonic stem cell use is that there has to be an abortion to do it. But the fact of the matter is that abortion is legal and it happens, so what's the point of banning stem cell use and keeping abortion legal?
posted by dagnyscott at 3:58 PM on April 22, 2003


I agree with BigCalm -- this is a pretty complicated ethical issue here. For the record, I'm for stem cell research, but I can absolutely see the point of those who are hesitant about the slippery slope that this is on. It does scare the hell out of me that someone like Bush has the authority to make decisions on something like this, but that's because I don't trust him or his people to grasp all of the angles of this, not because I think that one side is clearly wrong. Talking about this as if there were a clear answer that every thinking person should be able to see is either dishonest or taking a pretty superficial view of the issues.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 4:07 PM on April 22, 2003


Before I accuse you all of being anti-religious fundies, I need to know something: Exactly how would these "stem cells" be harvested without the current laws in place?

I, as an atheist, would hate to hear that they are being harvested from viable babies, unless, of course, the babies aren't killed in the process.

If they are, instead, harvested from unviable babies (such as those where the mother would die if she gives birth, or from babies in cadavers, as has been mentioned) I'd be fine with it. If instead they are taken from aborted babies, I have serious problems with that. In fact, it's one of my many non-secular arguments against abortion, the idea of trading dead babies for anything.
posted by shepd at 4:27 PM on April 22, 2003


On the other hand, the wasteful destruction of embryos which would otherwise have become human beings.

Please. We've got 6 billion of these "human beings." Do we really need more of them?
posted by solistrato at 4:56 PM on April 22, 2003


If instead they are taken from aborted babies, I have serious problems with that

If the aborted baby would simply have been disposed of anyway, why not allow stem cells to be extracted? No more abortions are being performed that would have been anyway.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 5:23 PM on April 22, 2003


>Please. We've got 6 billion of these "human beings." Do we really need more of them?

I don't see you volunteering to help rid us of human beings. I don't have any problem with some extras. There's piles of room for more, despite what some would say.

>If the aborted baby would simply have been disposed of anyway, why not allow stem cells to be extracted?

If it isn't being aborted specifically for stem cells, fine. I'm against most of the idea of abortion, but since it's legal, whatever. But I'm even _more_ against the idea of women aborting their babies for the feel-good feeling of "furthering science" and I'll be damned if I support aborting babies for that purpose.
posted by shepd at 5:40 PM on April 22, 2003


What about embryos that only ever exist in petri dishes?

That never even get as far as having a "head" end and a "tail" end, but just the blastocyst stage or whatever?

No abortion involved, there.
posted by beth at 5:44 PM on April 22, 2003


I suppose women are aborting in droves just for that feel-good feeling of "furthering science."
posted by jazzkat11 at 5:45 PM on April 22, 2003


Mock my reasoning as "pandering" if you want, but I really can't see how Bush can turn his back on the potential for this research, given the millions it could help...

Also, consider this: In Iraq, Bush was perfectly capable of making a cold moral calculus: determining that some loss of innocent lives are acceptable to ensure "freedom" or "victory" over there. He was willing to argue that the greater good of "regime change" could justify the loss of some innocent lives. The sanctity of innocent life wasn't absolute in Iraq for Bush, so why is it so hard for him to balance and consider with this matter?

If anything, this decision should be easier. The state of cells and embryos is very much debatable and ambiguous, certainly compared to fully born, living civilians who have been killed in Iraq.

And the existing pain, misery, and suffering caused by Parkinsons', Alzheimers, Spinal Cord injuries, etc... is clearly greater than any threat Saddam has posed to Americans...
posted by crookdimwit at 6:05 PM on April 22, 2003


Off-topic, but thought people might be interested in this:
According to Japanese belief, children who die prematurely are sent to Hell because they have brought so much sadness to their parents. In Hell, they are sent to Sai no Kawara, a dried up river, where they are made to build monuments made of small pebbles to Buddha in order attract his compassion and be freed from Hell. Their work is hampered however, by a terrible demon who scatters the rocks with an iron club. When the demon comes, it is Jizo that protects the children by hiding them in his sleeves and drives the demon away, making him one of the most beloved of the Bosatsu.

You will often see little piles of rocks around the statues, which were put there by parents who want to help ease the time the spirits of the children they never had will spend in hell.

--from Japan SAQ
It's too bad Christians don't share this belief. It would be much more effective than saying the doctors will go to Hell.
posted by son_of_minya at 6:11 PM on April 22, 2003


On the other hand, the wasteful destruction of embryos which would otherwise have become human beings.

Or, more accurately, medical waste.

But I'm even _more_ against the idea of women aborting their babies for the feel-good feeling of "furthering science" and I'll be damned if I support aborting babies for that purpose.

I can't imagine this happening. Following similar precedents (blood donation, organ donation etc) there would likely be no monetary compensation. Further, an abortion is a medical procedure which does have risk. A reason of "helping science" would be very questionable for the performing physician balancing the health of the mother with some abstract ideal. The health of the patient would win. Now, for example, you can wish to donate your kidney to research all you want, but good luck finding a doctor that is willing to perform that procedure.
posted by rhyax at 6:14 PM on April 22, 2003


if it isn't being aborted specifically for stem cells, fine. I'm against most of the idea of abortion, but since it's legal, whatever. But I'm even _more_ against the idea of women aborting their babies for the feel-good feeling of "furthering science" and I'll be damned if I support aborting babies for that purpose.

A much more likely scenario would be using stem cells from in vitro fertilization. In a given in vitro fertilization attempt multiple embryos are produced of which only one or two are used for attempted implantation.

Another scenario is the family that attempts fertilization for the purpose of creating a compatible donor for an ailing child.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:19 PM on April 22, 2003


But I'm even _more_ against the idea of women aborting their babies for the feel-good feeling of "furthering science" and I'll be damned if I support aborting babies for that purpose.

Just for the record, I want to say that this statement almost made me vomit. Such an all-out-male thing to say, full of blatant disrespect for women. If you have no idea what it is like to bear a child, or to have to give it up because you don't want it to lead a life of hardship or disease, just put a sock in it. Feel-good feeling...
posted by adzuki at 7:21 PM on April 22, 2003


It'll be interesting when all the breakthroughs come from Europe and Asia mixed with the fact that US doesn't even have universal healthcare.

Immortal 200 year old European supermodels who look like they're 18 will be our masters!
posted by skallas at 7:30 PM on April 22, 2003


Curse you, adzuki, you mind-reader, you. Now all I can say is "what adzuki said, more or less". Everyone is entitled to an opinion, even one worded as ignorantly and offensively as shepd's. shepd, you clearly don't have much regard for (or know much about) women if you think there'll be women lining up to get pregnant just so they can have an abortion, looking for that elusive "feel good feeling of furthering science" (whatever the hell that is).
posted by biscotti at 7:36 PM on April 22, 2003


Even scarier: do you want your research to be funded? Make sure it doesn't contain any references to un-fundamentalist behavior.
posted by alms at 7:41 PM on April 22, 2003


From stem cells to creation science, you're dealing with people in the administration who are willing to ignore demonstrated facts in favor of adhering to an ideological line, in this case fundamentalist Christianity. Hence the reference to Lysenko, the Soviet geneticist for whom the party line was more important than actual science.

One could also reference a number of researchers from 1930s and '40s Germany, but of course, we won't go there...

The risk that isn't being discussed among all the abortion handwringing is that the U.S. could lose its position of scientific leadership by allowing the direction of research to be dictated by, well, nutjobs.
posted by gimonca at 8:10 PM on April 22, 2003


They called me mad, MAD!, just because I proposed to re-animate dead tissue! Don't you SEE how it would benefit mankind if we could resurrect the dead with just a simple injection of this glowing green gel into each cadaver's cortex?
We would no longer have ANY USE for medical science! Just let somebody DIE and then bring them back to life! BWAHAHAHAHA! Er.

So anyway, that's why I need federal money for my project.
posted by kablam at 8:12 PM on April 22, 2003


Maybe it's a good thing that fundamentalist religious states get out of the way. Europe and Asia has fewer qualms about this kind of research, and once they've perfected the techniques involved, I'm sure they'll sell it to the US. For a price, of course.
posted by spazzm at 8:51 PM on April 22, 2003


Every stem cell line currently being researched has come from embryos. Not fetuses, embryos.

For those in the audience who are unaware of the distinction, many embryos are created in infertility labs for couples who are unable to conceive. A handful are implanted, with the hope that they will grow to a fetus, then to maturity.

There are many embryos that are not implanted. These are kept, frozen in a freezer, at the fertility clinic for about five years. At this point they're thrown out. I'm constantly bombarded on television about how great fertility treatments are and how amazing it is that "God blessed us with this child (thanks doc!)" None of these people have said "Hey, but it was really wrong that we threw out a bunch of embryos."

These are embryos, not fetuses. No one gives a shit, we're already throwing them in the garbage every day. For the love of god, let the scientists get them before they hit the dumpster.
posted by mikeh at 10:23 PM on April 22, 2003


kablam's on to something there--re-animate corpses for that decisive zombie vote. At last, legal voters registration for the dead.
posted by y2karl at 11:04 PM on April 22, 2003


Good for you, adzuki, separating the sexes like that! It leads to such a productive argument.

Hearing things like that from you, adzuki, as an adopted child makes ME want to vomit, so there.

Let's segregate society just a tad more, why don't we.

biscotti, you don't have much regard for the adopted. You want that we should be treated even more poorly than we are now?

Why do people have to adopt (heh) such a biased, dogmatic stance on such issues?

Give me one good reason why a woman should be allowed to abort their baby if carrying it to term poses no threat. Telling me "I wouldn't understand because I'm a man" is sexist, and a weak argument, at best. Remember, to be sucessful, you'll need to frame it in the context that human rights begin at conception. Otherwise I'm unlikely to even understand what you're talking about.

And please, don't make me vomit again. It's very messy.
posted by shepd at 1:25 AM on April 23, 2003


Give me one good reason why a woman should be allowed to abort their baby if carrying it to term poses no threat.

Because she's young, lesbian, and doesn't want to ruin her body or carry the burden of parenthood?
posted by son_of_minya at 2:18 AM on April 23, 2003


Those are good reasons?
posted by mr. man at 2:24 AM on April 23, 2003


shepd - you've turned this into an abortion debate when it never was one. Is that what you wanted? Adzuki took offence that you thought a woman would abort simply to help science. She thinks the idea is offensive, you think the idea is offensive. Seems to me you're on the same side.
posted by Summer at 2:52 AM on April 23, 2003


Mikeh got it right.
Pandering to the religious right wing nuts is the only reason the Duhbya cabal is interfering with embryonic stem cell research.
And it's not even about abortion so stop saying that!
posted by nofundy at 5:29 AM on April 23, 2003


son_of_minya,

In grade one my teacher told the class that if children died they went to Hell. This wasn't Japanese belief, it was Roman Catholic, or at least this teachers version of Roman Catholic. I think her reasoning was that a) we hadn't formally accepted the Holy Spirit b) we hadn't yet done any good works.

Anyway, seeing as how derailed this thread is I thought I'd throw in this point.
posted by substrate at 5:42 AM on April 23, 2003


Immortal 200 year old European supermodels who look like they're 18 will be our masters!

thank you skallas.
posted by th3ph17 at 6:51 AM on April 23, 2003


Even MeFi's lefty groupthink can tell when it's being pandered to, one would hope.

Yes, because only "lefties" can understand and support science (which doesn't stop all you arch-conservatives from reaping its benefits every day).
posted by rushmc at 7:04 AM on April 23, 2003


Give me one good reason why a woman should be allowed to abort their baby if carrying it to term poses no threat.

Carrying a baby to term always poses a threat.

Pregnancy alone carries a host of associated health problems. Childbirth is downright insanely dangerous. There's an effective certainty of nontrivial injury and internal damage. You have about a 50% chance of suffering grievous, life-threatening wounds (ie, going under the knife for a c-section). Your risk of dying in childbed is comparable to the risk of being a professional firefighter during the term of pregnancy. There are serious postnatal risks of life-threatening disorders as well.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:28 AM on April 23, 2003


From what I know about stem cell harvesting, it doesn't differ too greatly from organ donation.

Right. I can't sell my own organs and certainly can't have a baby in order to sell its organs (that case in Australia about cloning a kid in oder to get a good doner seems awful boderline to me).

You can argue guardianship vs. autonomy, however at this point these lines are still harvested from recently deceased cadavers. It is my understanding that folks are not 'growing' babies just for the purpose of harvesting their stem cells.

That may be the case now. What happens when stem-cell therapy is a lucrative business?

Sheesh, hasn't anybody seen The Matrix? Seriously, the arguments that could support the creation of embryo plantations could also justify a Matrix-like power plant: they don't have consciousness, so they're not human; they are soulless bundles of tissue, so they're no different than rocks or plants; the actions create more benefit than suffering; scientists are smarter than me, so they should get to do whatever they think is best, etc.

Does PETA oppose this sort of thing? They should.
posted by greengirl at 12:54 PM on April 23, 2003


Does PETA oppose this sort of thing? They should.

Heh, nice parody! You had me going till the tipoff. :)
posted by rushmc at 4:26 PM on April 23, 2003


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