Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Science Of Compromise

The "center-left" editorial board of the Los Angeles Times was much kinder to President Obama this morning than it should have been when it comes to the White House cop-out on stem cell research.

Yes, the president kept his promise by lifting some of the restrictions on federal funding for stem cell research. No longer will research be limited to the dozen or so stem cell lines already in existence at the time President Bush imposed the ban on the use of new lines. However, under the new NIH guidelines, some of the old restrictions remain firmly in place.

In unsettled times, perhaps it's appropriate to move cautiously on some fronts, aiming for consensus rather than contention. If that's the case, the Obama administration made a savvy move with its compromise draft rules on embryonic stem cell science: It greatly expanded the number of embryos available for federally funded research, but refused to open the door to funding research on embryos created for that purpose.

It was an important step forward,but not the kind of bold move promised by President Obama when he pledged to "base our public policies on the soundest science" rather than on politics. ...

The new NIH rules would not allow the use of federal money for studying stem cell lines derived from embryos created specifically for research. Such research might involve attempts to produce genetically matched organs for transplant or stem cell lines that reflect racial and ethnic diversity.
[Emphasis added]

The fact of the matter is that the primary sources of the embryonic lines used in research are the fertility clinics which freeze and store the unused embryos. The people who use such clinics to assist in conception are almost always white and at least middle class because the procedures are so expensive. That shuts out cell lines from other races and ethnicities. Consequently, a huge segment of the population may very well be shut out from the benefits anticipated from the research.

Appropriate ethical guidelines can be developed to forestall any misbegotten experiments. After all, responsible researchers are not freakish Dr. Frankenstein wannabes and would no doubt be quite happy to do their jobs within the framework provided as long as that framework doesn't tie their hands completely.

To shut down one important facet of that research in the name of "consensus" does not reflect the leadership one expects from the President of the United States. This is another case of the science of compromise leading to the compromise of science, a situation which Mr. Obama promised to change.

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Anonymous Gromit said...

Ruth, Delighted to hear that you're having a great time. Keep it up. (That's an order)

4:17 AM  
Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

That's why they call it "political science," nest paw?

You will eventually, i fear, have to admit that St. Barry's feet of clay reach all the way to his balls...

glad you're having a fun trip...

6:34 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Doing as ordered, thanks. It's amazing.

7:18 AM  

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