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Theocracy at the end of a Pipetman
August 25, 2010 3:11 PM   Subscribe

With the passing of Executive Order 13505, Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells, in 2009 President Obama expanded federal funding and rescinded George W. Bush's policies that eliminated most federal funding and restricted human embryonic stem cell research to the use of existing, contaminated cell lines. On Monday, federal judge Royce C. Lamberth blocked this new order after protestations from James L. Sherley, a former scientist with the Boston Biomedical Research Institute, and Theresa Deisher, who operates the Ave Maria Biotechnology Company, which aims to do "pro-life" therapeutic research without the "taint of embryonic or electively aborted fetal materials".

Both plaintiffs have a history of opposition to embryonic stem cell research. Sherley coined the term "embryoism", to describe discrimination "against human embryos, just like there is discrimination against people of different culture and races." His objection to embryonic stem cell research in this case rested with competition for grant dollars, and damages he would suffer from funding that would not be given to his adult stem cell research projects. Deisher's objections also lied with the similar inability to compete for grant dollars with this new policy in place. Adult stem cells are taken from the tissues of a developed (adult) human being, with a somewhat lesser capability for pluripotency than embryonic stem cells, which have the ability to differentiate into all other tissue types and are, as a result, more attractive than adult cells as therapeutic agents.

While new, legitimate research grants will go unfunded and applications unprocessed until the crisis is resolved, the National Institutes for Health, for its part, might continue with funding existing stem cell research grants and will hold a review with major primary investigators next Tuesday. The Department of Justice also plans to appeal Lamberth's ruling.
posted by Blazecock Pileon (45 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Needs the "activist judge" tag.
posted by GuyZero at 3:16 PM on August 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


"Taint" pretty much sums up my feelings on this.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:18 PM on August 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


rescinded George W. Bush's policies that eliminated most federal funding and restricted human embryonic stem cell research to the use of existing, contaminated cell lines.

Wait - Bush's policies required that only contaminated cell lines could be used? Or are you saying that, as of the date that Bush's policies were put into effect, all existing cell lines had been contaminated? I don't like Bush's policy on stem cell research, but your assertion seems a bit over-the-top to me.
posted by The World Famous at 3:23 PM on August 25, 2010


I believe this is the ruling.

I hadn't even considered this tactic before. See, I work for a defense contractor specializing in maintaining an old Air Force "weapons system" (AKA a plane). I would estimate that 90% of our business comes from maintaining aged aircrafts. If the government suddenly starts funding a replacement aircraft, can I sue the Joint Chiefs to prevent these new contracts from being funded, as I will now have to compete for federal dollars?
posted by muddgirl at 3:25 PM on August 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


TWF - I assumed he was trying to say that the 21 "existing" embryonic stem cell lines are also contaminated with the "taint" of their origin, or something, which is why this ruling might block their use.
posted by muddgirl at 3:27 PM on August 25, 2010


Thanks, muddgirl.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:27 PM on August 25, 2010


This is great news. Now instead of using the innumerable, existing fertilized ova for medical research that could save lives, we can continue to destroy them and gain nothing from it. But hey, all those dead people will be able to go to their graves knowing that their medicine didn't have a debatable 'taint' to it.
posted by mullingitover at 3:29 PM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Balanced Budget Downpayment Act contained a rider, known as the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which prohibited the use of federal funds for “(1) the creation of a human embryo or embryos for research purposes;"

Anyone else read this and wanna get pregnant "for research purposes"?
posted by muddgirl at 3:30 PM on August 25, 2010


Anyone else read this and wanna get pregnant "for research purposes"?
It's only a problem if you're using federal research funds.
posted by delmoi at 3:33 PM on August 25, 2010


My baby niece died of cancer. Other babies will die, real living human beings not 5 cells clumped together, because of these idiots delaying research because they have to shove their religion into our government. Fuck off and die you pieces of garbage.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:34 PM on August 25, 2010 [21 favorites]


.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:36 PM on August 25, 2010


(That comment was both larger than, and about as close to being a sentient human being as, an unwanted IVF embryo.)
posted by Rhaomi at 3:36 PM on August 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Reading through the opinion (thanks muddgirl), I see at least one contradiction and multiple errors in reasoning.

"The injunction, however, would not seriously harm ESC researchers because the injunction would simply preserve the status quo and would not interfere with their ability to obtain private funding for their research." Page 14.

Yet the court accepts this without argument:

"Plaintiffs are researchers who work exclusively with ASCs. They seek funds for their research projects from defendants and allege "that obtaining NIH funding is necessary for their continued research." Page 13.

Either NIH funding is the exclusive source of funds for stem cell research or it isn't. The judge can't have it both ways.

Furthermore, the judge completely ignores the harm to ESC researchers in the form of loss of future grants. An injunction preserves the status quo only until the next round of grant applications. At that point, an injunction guarantees that the ESC researchers will lose their jobs, yet denying an injunction would not represent the same risk to ASC researchers. ASC researchers could still get grants under the new rules, they just had more competition.

The decision is crap.
posted by jedicus at 3:38 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]




Despicable that the right wing plays up this wedge issue that in any rational universe would not even be a consideration. Embryos created for IVF purposes have been routinely discarded into the trash for years and this was never an issue until right wingers realized they could get extreme anti-abortionists to vote for them over this designer issue. The whole field of stem cell research, including the supposed research of these clowns, would be dead in the water without ESC for study.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:44 PM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is like playing Civilization IV on godlike, for crying out loud.

What would you like to research next?
Quantum Computing - 22 turns
iPod Iteration 57 - 1 turn
Stem Cells - 5,853 turns

Hmm, that doesn't seem right, let me check my civ details.

12 Specialists
6 Merchants
15 Artisans
11 Scientists
367 Fuckwit Judges
6283 Lobbyists

Aha!

Now, what does New York need? An Islamic Temple? I think not! MOAR MECHANIZED INFANTRY!
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:48 PM on August 25, 2010 [23 favorites]


It's only a problem if you're using federal research funds.

I could probably pull that off. I write a mean proposal.
posted by muddgirl at 3:53 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man, I can't believe MIT ever considered granting tenure to James L. Sherley. Since being denied tenure he seems to be determined to burn as many bridges as possible. What an ass clown.
posted by benzenedream at 3:57 PM on August 25, 2010


Fuck off and die you pieces of garbage.

I prefer Saul Bellow's formulation:

Let the enemies of life step down.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:58 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


If anyone actually believed that embryos represented human life, they would be permanently camped out outside fertility clinics, which have destroyed millions of embryos over the years. By their rationale, there's a holocaust going on right now. Since none of the right-to-lifers are making a stink about this, I can only assume that their stance on stem cell research (among other things) is just retarded political posturing.
posted by coolguymichael at 3:58 PM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


What really gets me about this decision is the issue of standing that muddgirl brought up. The fact that you can sue the federal government because they let someone else compete with you for funding just boggles the mind, and seems to open up a huge can of worms.
posted by pombe at 4:01 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


The man animal hybrid threat has been contained!
posted by Artw at 4:59 PM on August 25, 2010


I have nothing against embryos. In fact, I have several friends who are embryos. But I still don't think they have any business near Ground Zero, and I sure don't want to see them getting married.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:14 PM on August 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


The man animal hybrid threat has been contained!

If you make manimals illegal, only the lawless with have manimals.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:22 PM on August 25, 2010


If you make manimals illegal, only the lawless with have manimals.

Not to worry. Anyone possessing a lawful manimal prior to the effective date of the statute will be grandfathered in. Therefore, while some lawless individuals or organizations may obtain or create manimals unlawfully after the effective date, there will, nevertheless, be numerous lawful manimal owners. The trick is to get in before that effective date. Get your manimal now!
posted by The World Famous at 5:29 PM on August 25, 2010


I would like a Megan Slothx - sexy, but too lazy to get away! Also with huge rending claws, and eats only berries.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:45 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


"By their rationale, there's a holocaust going on right now. Since none of the right-to-lifers are making a stink about this, I can only assume that their stance on stem cell research (among other things) is just retarded political posturing."

Yeah, just cause you're not listening to them doesn't mean they're not making a stink about it. They're doing what they can to stop it; things like suing the government. Would you really prefer that we go back to the days of clinic blockades rather than lawsuits and political campaigns?

What they've realized is that they don't yet have broad enough societal support for direct action to actually be useful for saving lives overall in the long term, so they don't do it, but instead focus on building a social and legislative consensus against abortion, embryonic stem cell research, etc.
posted by Jahaza at 5:57 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Professor Farnsworth: C'mon stem cells! Work your astounding scientific nonsense.

Fry: Fetal stem-cells? Aren't those controversial?

Professor Farnsworth: In your time yes. But nowadays--SHUT UP! Besides, these are adult stem cells, harvested from perfectly healthy adults ... who I killed for their stem cells.
posted by neuron at 8:25 PM on August 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Would you really prefer that we go back to the days of clinic blockades rather than lawsuits and political campaigns?

As if people don't try to block women from getting into clinics to obtain necessary health care every day in this country. Try your local Planned Parenthood on any given Saturday and then say the days of clinic blockades are past.
posted by threeturtles at 8:34 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


As if people don't try to block women from getting into clinics to obtain necessary health care every day in this country. Try your local Planned Parenthood on any given Saturday and then say the days of clinic blockades are past.

It's not like Tulsa in 1991 or Buffalo in 1992. Protests and blockades are not the same thing.
posted by Jahaza at 10:22 PM on August 25, 2010








It's not like Tulsa in 1991 or Buffalo in 1992. Protests and blockades are not the same thing.

What, this isn't a blockade?
posted by muddgirl at 5:51 AM on August 26, 2010


What, this isn't a blockade?

"Nice job keeping them back from the entrance, Officer Asshole."
posted by Amanojaku at 8:06 AM on August 26, 2010


Well, they're technically off private property *sigh*
posted by muddgirl at 8:10 AM on August 26, 2010


It would be interesting to see what would happen if, say, ExxonMobil suddenly decided that embryonic stem cells could help produce oil. I'd be curious to see if the conservatives who love Jesus would win over the conservatives who love corporations.
posted by Legomancer at 8:14 AM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jahaza: They're doing what they can to stop it; things like suing the government. Would you really prefer that we go back to the days of clinic blockades rather than lawsuits and political campaigns?

Fertility clinics are private organizations - suing the government does nothing in the U.S.

As far as blockades, if there were a factory in your town whose business depended on killing children by the thousands, would you:
a) Take a few years to try and sue them. Or
b) picket/blockade/whatever else you could to stop it NOW.

I should hope you'd go the blockade route. The lack of blockades means, as I said above, that no one actually believes that life begins at conception -- it's just a nice tagline for a pretend political stance.

One wonders, though, why they pretend to care about abortion (which tends to affect young minorities) and SCR (which tends to affect the much-hated scientific community), but not fertility clinics (which is pretty much all about rich white people).

Or maybe one needn't wonder at all.
posted by coolguymichael at 9:54 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I see what you're trying to say, coolguymichael, but unfortunately I just don't think you have your facts right.

Sure, the majority of people who are "pro-life" do not fully conceptualize what that means. But there is a core group of "pro-life" activists who believe that they have the moral responsibility to the lives of embryos, even if that means killing an abortion doctor while he's at Sunday services, or while he's on his way home from work, or while he's making dinner. And of course there's violence against other people involved in reproductive health care.

If we hadn't passed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, then the sorts of blockades that Jahaza was talking about would absolutely still be occurring. Of course, every state interprets and enforces this act differently - thankfully most states would interpret the blockade I posted a picture of above as illegal, but other states who have been dominated by anti-abortion interests have a much narrower interpretation of "clinic access."
posted by muddgirl at 10:18 AM on August 27, 2010






Hopefully, the appeals will go forward.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:23 PM on August 30, 2010








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