Reagan and Stem Cell Research

I make it a practice to avoid political statements here, but I’m compelled to quote from John Robb’s Weblog today:

“Tens of millions of people like Ronald Reagan, continue to fight debilitating diseases like Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and Diabetes. Stem cell research holds the promise of a cure. Bush’s fight against stem cell research (he has even tried to ban it globally via the UN), sentences people like Ronald Reagan to years of personal and familial trauma, disolution of dignity, and eventually death. In a right and perfect world, Reagan’s death would be the trigger for a well funded push into stem cell research to find a cure for these diseases.

Every day my father fights the effects of Parkinson’s, and I’m sickened by those whose vague religious convictions deny the search for a cure. If you’re among these people, then you’d better be damn sure you’re following God’s will rather than your own fear, because otherwise you’re potentially condemning people I love to needless pain and suffering.

23 thoughts on “Reagan and Stem Cell Research

  1. I never understand why religion is always used as a counterargument to choice, especially when suffering can be potentially mitigated.
    I’m sorry to hear about your Dad, Nick.

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  2. I personally am not against stem cell research, it’s just that it is wrong to create a fetus just to kill it and harvest its cells. I’ve read that there are many opportunities to research stem cells from placentas of babies that were born healthy and are no longer needing those cells. That is where the problem comes in… When we play God and mess with life for our own selfish reasons.

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  3. Hmm. Are you allowed in the US to harvest stem cells? Here in the Netherlands it’s not allowed, so we are getting them from countries like China, Japan and Taiwan. If I am correct we are still able to research with stem cells, my brother has done some research with it (he has a master in medical biology) something with stem cells and some disease (not parkinson) were I don’t know the English name off. I am positive about stem cell research, it can help finding a cure against like cancer, Alzheimer and other illnesses.

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  4. I am against “harvesting stem cells from a fetus”, and that’s not because I’m particualar religious, but because I think it’s unethically. Where do you stop there? You start with a few cells, next it’s a liver, finally an arm?
    We here in Germany have a ban here as well on stem cells from fetuses, I think; but recently, a few scientists manage to harvest stem cells from the pancreas: now, this sounds to me as a possible solution for the ethical dilemma, at least.
    However, I’m not convinced about the success of genetics; they haven’t achieved much in the last 10 years, have they?

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  5. I agree with GRB. If you can do stem cell research without killung fetuses, i´ve nothing against it (Actually, they found some new way to get stem cells lately?).
    And beyond religion & all (i´m not member of a christian church), I think it is totally wrong to believe, that medicine can and should cure all diseases. And not everything that is possible is “good” (thinking of extreme premature birth).

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  6. And, of course, Nancy Reagan is a supporter of embryonic stem cell research.
    It is unfair, however, for you to call Bush and others’ views on the matter “vague religious convictions.” Most of the opponents of such research do not have *vague* religious convictions at all. They have very serious and pointed — if wrong — objections to stem cell research.

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  7. The *real* problem is:
    The US Constitution guarantees us freedom of religion. What X-tians cannot accept is that this also means freedom from religion. Those of us who could not possibly care less how you spell the name of your god, for we do not believe in he/she/it, are getting really, really tired of the constant, blatant disregard of the Constitution in the name of and for your god.
    A non X-tian cannot get elected for dogcatcher in this country. At least we are not actually a democracy, though we are dangerously close. A democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting on what is for dinner. Until we have another revolution in this country and the Constitution wins, pray to the deity of your choice that your health never becomes subject to the whims of politicians and professional preachers who put their reelection and their pocket books over science, reason and the constitution.
    And people who think I am incapable of having morals and values because I do not believe in their god particularly offend me. Belief in a god does not make one right and everyone else wrong, however much one wishes it were so.

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  8. Wow, vague religious beliefs. Why so harsh? It is hardly vauge religious that power Christian thought (I assume you mean Christian, even though major world religions are against the harvesting of fetus’s for stem cells) against the use of stem cells. There are plenty of secular people who are against stem cell research. Which is why it is still illegal.
    I feel very bad for your Dad. I have friends and relatives who suffer from similar diseases. Perhapas their pain could be alliviated, only to potentially suffer from something else later on. My point is, that suffering is common in death. But that does mean someone who is suffering is losing their dignity. I believe grace in suffereing enhances dignity.

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  9. Funny rant…:) You say these vague beliefs from Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions all teach respect for all life. For 100/1000’s of years these beliefs have been a foundation. Please your brain not a rant.

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  10. The phrase “vague religious convictions” reflects my anger at those who justify their fear and ignorance by citing God. This isn’t a swipe at any religion – it’s just the way some people are wired. We’ve all met people who use God as justification for thoughtlessness, and we’ve all seen politicians who are adept at manipulating these people for their own personal gain.
    If you wish to interpret my comments as some anti-religious rant, so be it. But I do ask that you step back from your indignation and ask yourself how you’d feel if the potential cure for your father’s illness was blocked in the name of someone else’s God.

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  11. First of all, the opposition against stem cell research is not necessarily led by “X”-tians, or any large religious movements. There are several individuals throughout the world claiming no religious affiliation whatsoever who are strongly against stem cell research. Secondly, I find it a bit irresponsible of you to comment so on stem cell research, seeing as how *your* indignation seems a bit hypocritical; somehow you justify the murder of someone’s child so that your father may live? And who is to say that you are justified in taking new life to save fleeting life? I’m sorry that your father suffers from such a disease, but unfortunately, these things happen. Hopefully next time before you decide to lay the blame of a misfortune on the first visible scapegoat, you’ll think twice and tame your tongue.

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  12. We see here clear examples of why many people avoid political (religious) subjects in their blogs. Some folks cannot have their world view questioned without going straight into ad hominem.

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  13. Ryan, most of the outrage about stem cell research – including yours, apparently – has centered around the mistaken notion that an aborted fetus is the only source. This is not the case. For example, when our daughter was born, we had stem cells collected from her umbilical cord. Bone marrow is another potential source. Embryonic stem cells can also be grown in the laboratory.
    http://www.parkinson.org/whatrstemcells.htm
    http://www.marrow.org/MEDICAL/sources_of_stem_cells.html
    http://science.howstuffworks.com/question621.htm

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  14. Strange, I was thinking of something very similar tonight while I was at the underground, traveling from Shaukeiwan to Central (Hong Kong).
    Perhaps genetically related problems could be better defined. One type would be stuff like height, weight, colour of eyes, shape of the bottom… The other kind would be Down’s syndrome, Asthma, Eczema… The latter are illnesses that are serious enough to give us a lot of pain, but frankly not bad enough to kill us at the foetal stage. These illnesses can be seen as (if you think Darwin was not joking) the inefficiency of Natural Selection. Perhaps the ease of catching the Flu, Common Cold could also be seen as inefficiencies of Natural Selection. Doctors fight IONS everyday for obvious reasons.
    Legally, the foetus is not a person until a certain age. Last time I heard it was 16 weeks. But this does not matter, as if you want to protect foetal rights from conception/fertilisation, you have better start by making the oral contraceptive pill illegal. Why? The pill stops implantation. The pill does not stop conception/fertilisation. In other words if a woman takes the pill, it can be interpreted as killing foetuses. We have been doing the OC for such a long time and no one said anything about foetal rights, so why are we so noisy now?
    Religious reasons are most problematic. But perhaps the term ‘Playing God’ should be better defined. When do we cross the line? Since we are talking about religion/Christianity perhaps we can read the Bible. It seems to hint that curing the blind is OK, making the lame walk is OK, thirst quenching (both types) is OK and even raising the dead is OK. However, there is no mention that changing the eye colour is OK. No mention that making someone more intelligent is OK. So maybe these latter things are not OK.

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  15. Benjamin Pei said, “Religious reasons are most problematic”.
    Therein lies the source of many of the world’s promblems today. The old saying, reasonable people can agree to disagree, is no longer an option all to often. For many people, religious disagreements are not negotiable. Having contrary (with whomever) beliefs only becomes a serious problem when the believers seek to impose their will on others.
    I understand that what X-tians call the Golden Rule is more properly translated as,
    Do not do unto others as you would have them not do unto you.
    That would make for a very different playing field, would it not? You mind your business and I will mind mine. What a concept!

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  16. I agree with you Jan. Religious beliefs should not be imposed. As so many are suffering, in pain and sick. They are the ones that need to be heard and helped.

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  17. I feel for your dad. Having recently lost my grandfather who I loved dearly to cancer helps me know exactly what you are going through.
    You forget that President Bush initiated agressive federal funding of research on umbilical cord, placenta, adult and animal stem cells, which do not involve the same moral dilemma embryo stem cell research. Each year, the Feds spend $250 million dollars on this important research. What is your complaint?
    Please watch making blanket hateful statements against people who are religious. You show the same blind bias as a white supremist would against an African-American.

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  18. Nowhere in my post do I make a “blanket hateful statement against people who are religious.” What I said was “I’m sickened by those whose vague religious convictions deny the search for a cure,” and I stand by this remark.
    Since this remark is apparently being misconstrued, I’ll make it clearer by using Pres. Bush as an example. Here’s a man who restricted stem cell research out of concerns that embryos have the potential for life, stating plainly that “human life is a sacred gift from our Creator.” Yet when the World Trade Center fell, he didn’t turn the other cheek. Regardless of what anyone believes about the decision to go to war, it’s fair to say that Jesus would frown upon cluster bombs.
    Embryos which are already headed for destruction cannot be used for scientific research no matter how noble the cause because life is precious, yet killing people in an act of war is acceptable. His belief in the sanctity of life is situational, which in my mind is a “vague religious conviction.”

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  19. William. I’m not sure how stating that one is “sickened by those whose vague religious convictions deny the search for a cure” can be construed as “making blanket hateful statements against people who are religious”.
    I found your white supremacist analogy particularly strange given that (like some pro-lifers) some white supremacists justify their world view on the basis of their own religious convictions. To me, this simply highlights the problem in using religious beliefs (which are, by definition, personal) to support an argument.

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