Stem-Cell Victory

From its inception, the debate over stem-cell research has been plagued by misinformation. In 2001, when President Bush issued an executive order limiting the federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research to existing lines, the leftwing howled about the outright “ban” on stem-cell research, even though the order simply limited taxpayer funding of embryo research, while doing nothing to ban private firms from pursuing the life-destroying research. And though the issue is nearly a decade old, the media continue to brand pro-life conservatives as opposed to all stem-cell research, even though we strongly support ethically sound adult and umbilical cord stem-cell research.

Worst of all has been the Left’s suggestion that destroying human life is the only way of obtaining embryonic stem cells for research. Once again the Left has been proved wrong. Leading scientists in Wisconsin and Japan recently discovered that they can pursue embryonic stem cell research without destroying human embryos by re-programming adult cells to behave like embryonic stem cells, allowing them to grow and potentially turn into any type of tissue in the body. Reports state that this new method will negate the demand for destroying human embryos for research; in fact, the new method may prove more effective than the embryo-destroying research was ever supposed to be.

Notably, the ethical boundaries set up by President Bush in 2001 are partly responsible for compelling scientists to develop these new, ethical means of deriving embryonic stem cells—an irony that will be lost on the anti-life hardliners. University of Wisconsin stem cell scientist Dr. James Thomson, who was the first to isolate embryonic stem cells ten years ago and one of the scientists who discovered the new method, told the New York Times: “If human embryonic stem cell research does not make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, you have not thought about it enough.”

This new embryonic stem cell breakthrough is a victory for life and for science, and it highlights another irony. The Left has always portrayed itself as the ideology of cool, detached reason, while labeling pro-life advocates as unreasonable, emotional and anti-science. But it’s pro-lifers who have seized the mantle of science and technology by embracing the science behind ultrasound technology and the empirical data demonstrating a cause-and-effect link between abortion and depression. The recent stem-cell discovery only reaffirms this irony. Those who cautioned against life-destroying embryonic stem-cell research while urging life-affirming alternatives have been vindicated. 

Gary Bauer’s American Values, Nov. 27, 2007