Obama’s Embryo Destruction
Who’s Afraid of Post-Modernism?
We were hearing last week about the freeing up of science from the yoke of politics. No more would government prevent scientific research that would otherwise find cures for a host of diseases that plague us by using dubious ethics as a bludgeon to hold academics at bay. Yuval Levin, who’s associated with the Ethics and Public Policy Center, cuts through the verbiage written about the new Human Embryonic Stem Cell research policies put in place by the Obama administration. It is, as he says, important to know what the new policy does and does not do.
The federal government has in fact never before-even under President Clinton-used taxpayer dollars to encourage the destruction of human embryos, as it will now begin to do. Obama’s decision is an unprecedented break with the longstanding federal policy of neutrality toward embryo research. Before 2001, not one dollar had ever been spent to support embryonic stem cell research, and when George W. Bush provided funds for the first time, he did so in a way that made sure tax dollars did not create an incentive for the ongoing destruction of human embryos. President Obama’s new policy will do precisely that: it will tell researchers that if they destroy a human embryo, they will become eligible for federal dollars to use in studying its cells; establishing an obvious and unprecedented incentive.
Well, that’s change, I guess. No more politics over science, right?
Over at Hot Air, Ed Morressey puts his finger on what really happened.
The advocates of this policy cheer the supposed triumph of science over politics, but in truth, it’s the reverse. Over a year ago, researchers found a way to unlock adult stem cells to have the same flexibility as hEsc lines, ie, the ability to transform into any kind of tissue. Bush’s policy in effect pushed the government-funded research in that direction, which prompted the breakthrough. With that process available, we have no need to grind up our offspring to cure diseases, especially since grinding up our offspring has yet to result in even one therapeutic result, despite billions of dollars of research into hEsc. A scientific approach would dictate that we follow success instead of failure.
In fact, the market has done just that.
But the Bush administration was anti-science, wasn’t it? I mean, everyone was saying so. It was the meme.
Melissa Clouthier at Pajamas Media questions that idea.
The press, the left and even some on the right have purposefully misrepresented President Bush’s position about stem cells, making it seem like the President hated stem cell research in particular and science generally. This was a simplistic view meant to reinforce the image of Bush as a bible-beating anti-science zealot rather than a man sensitive to the ethical concerns of using the citizenry’s money to fund research which many voters view as morally ambiguous.
President Obama reinforced this inaccurate view by taking jabs at President Bush saying, “Promoting science isn’t just about providing resources, it is also about protecting free and open inquiry. It is about letting scientists like those here today do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it’s inconvenient especially when it’s inconvenient. It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.”
President Obama made it sound as if scientists themselves are devoid of ideology and politics. One only has to examine the overwhelming amount of breast cancer research compared to every other kind of cancer research, to know that this is simply not true:
As for breast cancer, the second most lethal malignancy in females, investigation in that field has long received more funding from the National Cancer Institute than any other tumor research, though lung cancer heads the list of fatal tumors for both sexes.
When government funds are used, politics necessarily plays a part in what does and does not get funded. Scientists know this, politicians know this and citizens should know this. [Latest example: nuclear power. Want politics to drive scientific inquiry? Look at anything related to global warming.]
I see often from even conservative writers that the humanities are PC bastions of post-modernism at the heart of universities, and along with it, the notion that the sciences are (at least relatively) unaffected by such things. They are “rational”, “devoid of ideology and politics”. I don’t think so, and I come to believe it’s a naive idea.