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Friday, April 19, 2013

Proposed Wisconsin stem cell law "problematic"?

Some Wisconsin legislators want to pass a law prohibiting the use of tissues - particularly stem cells - obtained from abortions in research. It does not prohibit all fetal or embryonic stem cell research, just research on tissues obtained from abortions.

On LinkedIn's Bioethics Connections group page, there is a brief post about this legislation. You might have to be a member of LinkedIn to follow the link. There, Bernard Siegel, a lawyer who once served as the President and Commissioner of Florida Championship Wrestling and Pro-Beach Wrestling (now called NXT) and who is now executive director of Genetics Policy Institute, has this to say:

Problematic Wisconsin proposal would politicize fetal tissue research. This type of legislation could become a trend in the states. It serves to inflame the public against scientists and will negatively impact potential lifesaving research. Raises unwarranted questions about previously ethically approved research.
Where to start?

OK let's start with a question: Do abortion facilities charge money for the tissues they provide for research? This is important, because where there is a money stream under threat by legislation, there is often a propaganda mill that will oppose it.

Surprise, surprise, abortion facilities seem to be making money off of this. Technically, they cannot charge a fee for the actual tissues, but they can charge fees for services and the use of their facilities to identify and harvest the desired tissues. There is usually a middle-man between the researchers and the abortionists, who pays the abortionist a site fee for using his clinic, and who in turn charges a service fee to the researchers. I don't know what all those fees amount to, but the abortionist makes more money than by performing the abortions alone, and the middle-man charges more than he pays out. And so it seems to be profitable, considering that the fate of the tissues otherwise is medical waste that an abortion facility needs to pay for to have removed properly.

And let's not forget that there are also streams of public and private grants that researchers can get if they have the tissues to research on.

So there is a lot of money at stake, all dependent upon abortion and the legality of using tissues from abortions.

And Mr. Siegel his organization could be part of it, if their revenue stream depends on advocating what the legislation prohibits. 

I guess that's what Mr. Siegel meant by "problematic."

And surprise, surprise, we all know the power of the abortion propaganda machine. Planned Parenthood is the biggest bully in the nation. Just ask the Komen Foundation.

Now, let's be fair. Legislation works two ways - it could harm someone's revenue stream, it could enhance someone's revenue stream, or it could do both to different parties. So it's a fair question to ask if anybody stand to gain, financially speaking, from this legislation? 

Not directly. The legislation might result in - but does not mandate - investment in other lines of research, but if stem cell researchers are really smart, they should be doing that sort of research themselves even if they also do research on embryonic or fetal tissues.

It "could become a trend." Horrors. Would that it did.

It "serves to inflame the public against scientists" - oh, give me a break. What nonsense. Yeah, we're all gonna start rounding up scientists and burning them at the stake because of this. No. Just the scientists who have no problem destroying living human individuals for research. And it seems to me that the public ought to be inflamed against them. 

I find it funny sometimes, but when people accuse others of things, it is usually to distract from themselves engaging in that very thing. So, when the left calls the right Nazis, it's because they're using Nazi tactics (such as shouting down adversaries) and advocating Nazi-like policies (such as euthanasia and state-run raising of everyone's kids). Or like that guy Dan Savage who uses bullying to call people he disagrees with bullies. Or accusing people who are not afraid of homosexuals in the least and who have no problems with homosexuals whatsoever homophobes for not, like themselves, kowtowing to the gay rights movement for fear of backlash.

And it "will negatively impact potential lifesaving research" - ok, here's the biggie: WHAT potential lifesaving research? SERIOUSLY: I have been following in one way or another the use of fetal or embryonic cells for treatments of various diseases for about 20 years. And just where is this therapeutic potential? So far, there is NONE. Only theories. Only possibilities. Only promises. Empty promises. And when controversial tissues are outlawed, people are accused of thwarting research into lifesaving treatments.

Talk about inflaming the public. See what I mean? He's doing exactly what he's accusing others of doing.

As far as I can tell, only two human studies using embryonic stem cells have been conducted. One was from Geron using embryonic stem cells to treat spinal cord injuries. It was terminated early for undisclosed reasons. The other was from Advanced Cell Technology for blindness. The early results involved two patients. They are still recruiting and should have data published some time next year, but their website has little news or updates. At any rate, there is no reason to believe that this disease can only be treated by embryonic stem cells with it being impossible to treat with other stem cell sources. But then again, I'm no expert on macular degeneration.

Meanwhile, adult stem cells - those naturally produced by the body - have been used to treat diseases for decades, and are widely used now to treat dozens of diseases. When you hear "bone marrow transplant" you are hearing about adult stem cell therapy. I am finding it difficult to quantify, but one source (which I'd like to verify independently but haven't been able to) listed 65 diseases as of 2005. A lot has happened in this field since 2005. If 65 is wrong, it's probably low.

And this research "raises unwarranted questions about previously ethically approved research." I think the questions are VERY warranted. Ethically approved by whom, by the way? People who use "ethics" to mean "let's find a plausible way of justifying what we want to do so we can ridicule naysayers into silence"? OK, I can buy that.

Yep. That's the state of bioethics today. Follow the frickin' money and see who squeals when you try to take it away. Money. Propaganda. Accusations. Rationalizations.

And where is assessing the right and wrong of an intended action as it pertains to human life and health?

Me neither.

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