Saturday, October 22, 2005

Stem Cell Debate Postponed

I hope Arlen Specter knows what he's doing. He's accepted an "understanding" with Senator Bill Frist to postpone the debate on relaxing a ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research until the beginning of the next congressional session, in January. Specter said that Frist (who you'll recall, is now a supporter of enhanced federal funding) had agreed that the bill will be brought up "as one of the first items next year."

Specter's bill would allow funding for research on stem cell line derived from embryos that would otherwise be destroyed. Responding to critics of the approach yesterday, Specter said "If all these embryos could be adopted, produce life, I would not have any interest in advocating scientific research on them. But if they're going to be thrown away, it makes a lot more sense to use them than to throw them away." He's right, and since the House has passed this bill, Senate action must come soon.

I wish that I could say I trust Bill Frist, but I don't. I'm afraid the debate will keep getting pushed back and pushed back and a vote will just keep eluding us. It is well past time to move this debate forward and get this bill to the president's desk (he has threatened a veto, but that is becoming increasingly untenable). I just hope Specter is as on top of his game on this as he is on the Court business - if so, I'm not worried.


At 10:47 PM, Blogger McPherson Hall said...

Hi Jeremy,

Your post has been haunting me for a few days … why is Arlen Specter giving in ?

One reason that I can rationalize is to protect Bush during this rough period. If the Senate passes it and sends it to Bush for his veto, it could be viewed as taunting the President.

The other reason is what I call the RoveElectionFactor. Could this be an issue (like gay marriage, abortion, school prayer, flag burning) that certain portions of the Republican Party want as an election issue ? For example, if Congress would ever pass and Amendment to the Constitution concerning any of these issues and send it to the States for ratification; that issue is no longer germane during a Congressional election contest. As an issue, it brings out certain “base” groups to the polls … especially if the “base” is angry about the SCOTUS nominee.

But, maybe I should not read such evil, political analysis into every event. Maybe, the hope is that Medical Research will advance so quickly in the next few months that Embryo Stem Cells are not needed.

Your thoughts ?

McPherson Hall

At 10:52 PM, Blogger JBD said...

Well I'd like to hope that it's just trying to get the Supreme Court/PlameGate/Katrina relief/appropriations bills stuff out of the way. As long as Frist is honest about this and actually schedules the debate, I'm fine with holding off until January - there are certainly things that need to be done. But we've got to get this bill through soon, since the House has passed it.

I hope that research advances quickly too. But I think in the meantime, we need to fund what we know works, as well as looking into new methods.


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