On stem cell research, from someone who knows what he’s talking about.
Dr Charles Krauthammer is a Harvard MD, member of The President’s Council on Bioethics, who, as he says, for “30 years I have heard promises of miracle cures for paralysis (including my own, suffered as a medical student).” He’s justifiably indignant over the Kerry-Edwards position on stem cell research (with Edwards saying, in full revivalist mode, “If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again”), and calls it Anything to get elected:
Where does one begin to deconstruct this outrage?
First, the inability of the human spinal cord to regenerate is one of the great mysteries of biology. The answer is not remotely around the corner. It could take a generation to unravel. To imply, as Edwards did, that it is imminent if only you elect the right politicians is scandalous.
Second, if the cure for spinal cord injury comes, we have no idea where it will come from. There are many lines of inquiry. Stem cell research is just one of many possibilities, and a very speculative one at that. For 30 years I have heard promises of miracle cures for paralysis (including my own, suffered as a medical student). The last fad, fetal tissue transplants, was thought to be a sure thing. Nothing came of it.
. . . Third, the implication that Christopher Reeve was prevented from getting out of his wheelchair by the Bush stem cell policies is a travesty.
Bush is the first president to approve federal funding for stem cell research. There are 22 lines of stem cells now available, up from one just two years ago. As Dr. Leon Kass, head of the President’s Council on Bioethics, has written, there are 3,500 shipments of stem cells waiting for anybody who wants them.
Edwards and Kerry constantly talk of a Bush “ban” on stem cell research. This is false. There is no ban. You want to study stem cells? You get them from the companies that have the cells and apply to the National Institutes of Health for the federal funding.
Kerry and Edwards are Campaigning from the mirage. There’s absolutely nothing either one of them won’t say to get elected.