Allow expanded stem-cell research
The fight over restrictions President George W. Bush imposed onfederally funded research using embryonic stem cells has flared anew,for very good reason. The politically driven restrictions havehandicapped potentially revolutionary, life-saving research. They shouldbe relaxed to allow expanded access to stem cells.
Last week, 206 House members implored Bush to allow researchers to usestem cells available for harvesting from some of the 400,000 embryosfrozen at fertility clinics. Many will be destroyed anyway, anextraordinary waste.
Stem cells are the Zeligs of the human body. They have the singularability to develop into any of the body's tissue types. Scientists arejust beginning to unravel their mysteries, hoping to tap that ability totreat conditions such as diabetes, cancer and spinal cord injury.In August, 2001, Bush said he would allow public funding for researchonly if the stem cells used had already been harvested, a process inwhich the embryos are destroyed. He drew that line under pressure fromfoes of abortion rights to avoid encouraging the destruction of moreembryos.
At the time, Bush estimated that 78 embryonic stem cell lines would beavailable for researchers. But only 15 cell lines are actually availablenow, and many of those may not be appropriate for therapeutic use. Givena choice between abortion politics and revolutionary research, Bushshould opt for the research.