Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Horrible Decision

OK, I've calmed down a little. Last night I got the news that stem cell research has once again been kicked in the gut, this time by a federal judge, and I went off like a bottle rocket. I'm still angry, but at least I am calm enough to consider just what this latest bad news means in language acceptable to civil discourse. Well, mostly.

From the Los Angeles Times:

A U.S. district judge on Monday blocked the federal government from funding all research involving human embryonic stem cells on the grounds that it violates a 1996 law intended to prevent the destruction of of human embryos.

The ruling came in the form of a preliminary injunction in a case involving two scientists who challenged the Obama administration's stem cell funding policy, which was designed to expand federal support for the controversial research. ...

The Obama rules allowed the use of stem cell lines derived from frozen embryos no longer needed for fertility treatments that were donated according to strict ethical guidelines. The rules did not allow the National Institutes of Health to pay for the creation of the stem cells themselves — a process involving the dismantling of days-old human embryos that is clearly forbidden by a federal law known as the Dickey-Wicker Amendment.

The scientists who challenged the guidelines argued that Dickey-Wicker also forbids the use of federal funds for any subsequent research on those stem cells, even if the embryos they came from had been destroyed years before.

The ruling essentially put embryonic stem cell research back to where it was under George W. Bush, that is, essentially at a standstill. We lost eight years of research into the treatment of such conditions as diabetes, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's Disease, and something which affects me personally, Alzheimer's Disease. That delay effectively shuts people of my age out of any benefits from the research, but those in the next generation would certainly have benefited from further research that would be allowable under Barack Obama's plan.

But a federal district court judge ruled that federal funding of such research runs afoul of the Dickey-Wicker Amendment passed by Congress in 1996 as a bone to the Religious Reich. The judge had to use some really specious reasoning to get to that point:

UCLA law professor Russell Korobkin, an expert on stem cell legal issues, said the ruling was "a terrible decision."

By considering all research part of an unbreakable continuum, the decision implies that the Dickey-Wicker Amendment has no limits, which is an unconvincing interpretation, Korobkin said. "It suggests that by conducting research on an acorn a scientist would also be conducting research on an oak tree, because acorns come from oak trees," he said.

The NIH has maintained since 1999 that the Dickey-Wicker Amendment precludes only the derivation of human embryonic stem cells, not their use as an experimental tool. The fact that Congress has not fine-tuned the law since then to explicitly ban funding for the research is evidence that the NIH is correct, Korobkin said.

Well, duh!

Apparently either the government lawyers didn't come up with that argument or didn't present it forcefully enough to Judge Royce C. Lamberth to persuade him to consider the effect of such an injunction on the lives of thousands of people who will now suffer and die as a long term result of his decision.

But here's the real kicker, the plaintiffs in the case have an interest in the outcome which apparently outweighs the interests of those thousands of people:

The case originally included the Christian Medical Assn., an embryo adoption agency called Nightlight Christian Adoptions and other plaintiffs, but courts removed them from the case.

An appeals court allowed the two researchers to proceed on the grounds that the expansion of NIH funding for human embryonic stem cells made it more difficult for them to win grants for their work on other types of stem cells derived from adult tissues.
[Emphasis added]

The two researchers' livelihoods were at stake, and their fame as scientists. Hell, they might even lose out on a Nobel Prize or two if they had to compete with those researchers working on embryonic stem cells.

And so, we are back to square one.

Please allow me one lapse in good taste.

Fucking douche bags.

Labels: , ,


Blogger filkertom said...

Agreed and a half.

6:30 AM  
Anonymous Aurangzeb said...

I'm with US court! I think this should've been done before. I'm also against those who say "boy or girl? you choose", you know what they do? if parents want girls they kill the boys before they're born. and if parents want boys then they kill girls before their birth. This is absolute crime. I don't know how people openly practice this horrendous crime and no-one stops them.


1:26 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home