One recurring theme of President Bush’s critics — highlighted during his last run for re-election — was his opposition to certain forms of stem cell research. He had banned it, he had blocked it, he had made it illegal to continue except under very tight restrictions. Citing his concern for the misuse and destruction of human embryos, he had limited research to stem cells from adults and a limited supply of fetal samples.
Well, not really.
What Bush did was to limit federal-funded research. He said — flat out — that any such research would be conducted without any financial backing from the government. If anyone else wanted to pick up the tab, they were quite free to do so.
So, how’s that working out?
Let’s see what one reporter for the Boston Herald discovered when he looked into it, Boston has a hard-earned reputation for being on the cutting edge of medical science, with scads of renowned universities and acclaimed hospitals.
What he learned was that medical research is expensive, and researchers are unhappy with the restrictions — but learning to live with it.
It’s a refreshing change from attitudes such as Planned Parenthood’s, which apparently thinks that it can freely ignore laws it doesn’t like.
There are damned decent arguments on both sides of the argument here, and I find myself on the edge. On the one hand, I can see the moral argument of those who fear the destruction of human embryos in the name of research — it falls somewhere between Frankenstein and cannibalism. On the other, the potential benefits of such research could benefit literally millions of people worldwide, people afflicted with a host of crippling, even fatal ailments.
Right now, I think that the situation is about right. Enough people have enough concerns about the ethics of fetal stem cell research that I believe their objections should be respected. On the other hand, the outright ban of such research would be overreaching. Saying “do what you want, but you’re not getting taxpayer money to help you” seems to strike the right balance.
And one of the great things about this country is that if enough people disagree, we can change the policy.