Home > current events, politics > The Stem Cell Ban

The Stem Cell Ban

One of these days I’m just going to say “fuck it” and start pasting my lectures into these posts. Not because they’re inherently interesting, although some people mind find them to be, but because I’m really thinking I may not hit my goal of 187 posts this year. However, some of those hypothetical posts actually apply to current events. Others…well have to be retired.

A newly retired lecture is the stem cell lecture. It’s going to be retired because it now (as of 6pm) needs a serious rewrite, so systemic is the need for the change that a completely new one will take its place. If I were teaching BioEthics I would rip up the lecture in front of the class. The reason is that President Obama has lifted the eight year moratorium on Stem Cell Research.

First off, the removal of the moratorium doesn’t allow anyone to research Stem Cells in the same way that the repeal of Prohibition allowed people to drink. For the last eight years anyone could research Embryonic Stem Cells all they wanted, what Bush’s law (signed Sept. 9th 2001) did was prohibit the Federal government from funding that research. That’s all the Bush law could do and did. This did allow States and private donors to fund the research. The outcry from the scientific community (those that are into this research) was that by cutting the federal money it effectively cut the research since a great deal of money comes from the federal government.

The ban was so severe that one scientist had all of his funding cut because he placed a cooler bought with government money in a lab where cloning research was being done. Never underestimate the conservative reaction to such things. By the way, this does nothing to lift the ban on human cloning research, that the dickey-warner agreement still stands.

When giving the stem cell lecture I slant against the government stance. It’s usually easy on controversial issues, so now, after eight years (and three years of one of my better lectures) that all has to come down. Not only do I have to change the whole thing, but when I am teaching again I will have to argue against the side that I am on. That’s usually easy, unless some particularly wiley student picks up on it.

I think the scientific community will collectively respect and enjoy this decision. It means that along with the reestablishment of the Presidential science advisor, we may actually have an administration supporting inquiry and attempting to keep its political hands out of the research. So far I think I might like this new guy.

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Categories: current events, politics
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