May 11, 2004

Letter to the Paper XXI

The Bit Bucket gets suckered by a sob story about stem cell research and I had to set him straight. No, Republicans aren't cruel, heartless Luddites. Democrats are playing a nasty form of special interest politics and manipulating everybody's heartstrings:

Frankly, I smell politics and desperation on this issue and it's not a very good recommendation for the Democrats.

There are two forms of stem cell research. Republicans favor adult stem cell research getting priority with restrictions placed on fetal cell research for moral reasons and cutting funding for it for practical reasons. The practical part is that in terms of medical value, having cells from somebody else, differentiated or not, causes immunological problems.

If you have two treatments of equal effectiveness, one fetal, one adult stem cell you would always go for the adult because you would not have to worry about your immune system killing off the graft, and maybe you. You wouldn't have to take immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of your life.

For the Democrats, I'm afraid, it's follow the money time. One of the big problems is where do you get fetal tissue to harvest the stem cells. Abortion clinics can turn a medical waste product into an important revenue source. With abortion rates sinking and political pressure on the clinics, they need all the ancillary revenue that they can get in order to stay in business so there is a financial incentive for them to push fetal stem cell research.

The kicker is that of all the stem cell therapies out there, it is adult stem cell research that is objectively the most promising because it's providing real results in the form of usable therapies to cure actual patients.

So distraught relatives like Nancy Reagan get told over and over the big lie that their loved ones are being denied treatments because the big bad Republicans are anti-science and some of them bite. It's a cynical, evil manipulation of people under severe stress. The current compromise leaves the back door open that fetal stem cells might have actual value but puts the heaviest government research bets on the stem cell research that is actually producing results. Democrats would like to reverse those priorities.

Why would any normal person without a financial stake in the outcome want to support that?

Posted by TMLutas at May 11, 2004 11:28 AM