Wednesday, April 04, 2007

If Embryonic Stem Cell Research is so Promising Why do Supporters Need to Lie?

From "Nascent Falsehood" by David Freddoso, posted 4/2/07 at National Review Online

On March 13, a group of patients of suffering from various diseases descended upon Capitol Hill, lobbying their lawmakers to fund the therapies that had successfully treated them — therapies involving the use of adult stem- cells.
One of them, a Long Island woman receiving adult-stem-cell therapy for multiple myeloma, approached Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) and told him about the successful treatment she was receiving. According to two other witnesses to the conversation, Schumer told her he supports funding adult-stem-cell research, but added that he did not “share your religious views” and that he also embraces embryonic-stem-cell research.

“But Senator,” the woman replied. “Adult stem cells produce cures. Embryonic stem cells have never produced any cures.”

“Yes they have,” Schumer replied. “I’ve met with two patients that have been treated with embryonic stem cells.”

Schumer’s staff has not yet responded to inquiries on the clearly mistaken answer he gave. In fact, embryonic stem cells have never successfully treated any disease in humans, and human trials of such therapies are more than a decade away, because currently they tend to produce malignant tumors in animal test subjects.

Many writers have already questioned just how promising embryonic research is, given that the best science now suggests that it will never cure Alzheimer’s and it probably won’t cure autoimmune diseases such as juvenile diabetes. But the falsehoods that seem inevitably to accompany embryonic research as a political issue should themselves give voters pause. Why must the backers of this research invoke bad science and sow public confusion every time the issue appears in the public square? Schumer’s statement, even if it is just the result of innocent confusion or scientific ignorance, just is one falsehood among many.

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