Unjustified Ruling Bans All Downstream Funding
Reader comment on: Stem Cell Court Decision
Submitted by Kevin T. Keith (United States), Aug 24, 2010 16:35
There's no reason to change a law that already means what it says it means. The religious right is simply taking advantage of a compliant judge and an opportune moment to create an empty controversy for their own ends. The existing law has always been interpreted to allow this kind of research. Hopefully, Congress will see what a problem this causes and jettison the stupid Dickey-Wicker Amendment entirely, but there is no need to do anything simply to maintain the status quo.
As for the question of federal basic-science funding "chasing out" the private funding that apparently has been just begging to fund this kind of research but was somehow prevented, note that the named plaintiffs in this case include researchers on non-embryonic stem cells, who claimed they were harmed by the Obama policy because it created competition for their federal funding. And those "plaintiffs" are actually a put-up job: the right-wing Christian group that sponsored this suit had previously sued to block this research in the name of the dead embryos; when they got laughed out of court for that, they came back with this set of adult stem-cell researchers to achieve the same ends by clamoring for a protected piece of the federal pie. This isn't a contest between federal or private funding; it's a question of the distribution of federal funds for projects that thin-stretched private charity dollars can't fund and for-profit companies won't touch - in which researchers on other projects have ginned up a bogus argument to block other people's funding requests, and the religious right has backed them to achieve its goal of blocking the science that funding would go to.
This ruling does not just ban funding for some kinds of research. It bans federal funding for all research of any kind involving embryo-derived materials (not just stem cells), no matter how far down the line. It basically walls off an entire area of research, including apparently anything involving materials synthesized or cloned from embryonic materials no matter how many times removed (since this judge explicitly denies a distinction between material actually removed from an embryo and material derived from it, many generations distant, years later), from the largest source of basic-medical-science support in the world. Apparently you are opposed to federal funding for medical science (the kind of funding, for instance, that developed treatments for AIDS and cancer, eradicated smallpox, and all but eliminated polio, as well as underwrote much of the worldwide campaign against malaria), but you cannot argue that this ban would have far-reaching consequences.
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The Future of Capitalism replies:
I do not oppose all federal funding for medical science.
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