Tuesday, April 23, 2002


Wesley Smith weighs in on the side of adult stem cell research. Facts are always welcome, but what does it prove? Here's what I wrote him:

Mr. Smith once again catalogues adult stem cell successes and thus adds much to the debate, although his implicit thesis: that the media pushes embryonic stem cell research because it wants to promote the destruction of embryos as part of some sort of institutional agenda to denigrate the view that such are human life with moral standing, strikes me as insuppportable.

As a lawyer -- and Mr. Smith was a successful one before he became a pundit -- one learns to cast the debate in terms that favor ones client's side, and Mr. Smith, it seems, is indulging in just that when he discusses stem cells and their promise only in terms of regenerative medicine, i.e., cures for existing conditions. He ignores the larger issue of genetic medicine applied at or before the point of conception to remove/deactivate genes causing birth defects, congenital illnesses, etc., or add/activate genes promoting desirable characteristics (general robustness, intelligence, etc.), and whether promise in that area is linked to embryonic or adult stem cells.

In so doing, he joins President Bush and other opponents of pre-birth genetic medicine in defining what are acceptable goals for genetic science in advance of the development of the science. The end result these opponents frankly seek is to foreclose individuals' choosing to utilize such science for their children-to-be. This is being accomplished. not by seeing what is and is not possible first, then making appropriate judgments, but, through enforced ignorance, delaying at all costs the development of the science so no one can have its (arguable) benefits.

That is simply barbaric.

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