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Volume 70, Issue 142, Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Opinion

Dogma severs stem cells' potential

Jim McCormick
Opinion Columnist

I've been noting a disturbing trend in the realm of national politics. It seems that some religious leaders would have us abandon the search for answers in science for a literal reading of religious texts that were never intended to be read in such a way. This, in fact, is the first of a summer series on this overarching topic, as there's much to discuss under this hypothesis. For today, I'll stick to the issue of using excess embryos from fertility treatments to further stem cell research.

Recently, 50 House Republicans joined most of the Democrats in voting for a bill that would allow for federal funding for such research. The measure also looks like it will pass the Senate as well. Most people, even abortion opponents, are generally in favor of such change in government policy because these embryos get destroyed under current policies, which is basically wasting human life. If these had been full-term babies placed in dumpsters instead of embryos, the so-called religious right would be in uproar, as would everyone else.

These embryos will never become people. They won't get a womb in which to mature, they won't have parents to raise them to become responsible adults, and they won't have a chance to make a difference in society. However, if we allow scientists to use these embryos in stem cell research, they will make a difference, even if they never get to be more than a clump of cells. 

The Shrub's vow to veto the bill, if it passes the Senate, exposes yet another facet of his supporters' hypocrisy. They claim to value life, yet when a chance comes to save lives from various ailments, such as diabetes mellitus, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and a host of other such conditions, they refuse to act. Instead, they claim that God supports their position without even providing any proof of this proclamation. I've not seen or heard of a burning bush telling scientists to stop looking for cures. Of course, if somebody were to set the president ablaze, I would be proved wrong -- though I'm certain that things could only be worse if Dick Cheney were president.

Not only would this measure assist in the search to find cures for numerous diseases, it would serve as a boom in the biotechnology industry in the United States, which has been harmed by the current ban on creating new embryonic stem cell lines for research. This country has lost several jobs and the associated tax revenue to other countries where people understand that the Bible was never meant to be taken literally. While giving approval to federal funding for the creation of new stem cell lines won't provide enough revenue to support the continued occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, it could potentially make it possible for the nation to repay the debt that such actions are incurring. 

If there was a bit more money spent toward rational science education in this country, it's likely that people would run away from science in fear to the waiting arms of the religious right, which would have us abandon our brains and think with our Bibles instead. God gave us brains with which to think. If he had intended us to follow demagogues who claim to speak in his name blindly, it's quite doubtful that he would have given us the ability to discover the answers to our own problems.

McCormick, a columnist for The Daily Cougar, 
can be reached at rantman_2000@yahoo.com

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