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« Carnival of the Godless #17 The RantsA Clear Sign for the Catholic Church »

Kudos to Spain, Again
2005.07.12 (Tue) 10:12

Hot on the heels of their legalization of gay marriage, Spain is once again pissing off the Christian contingent by pushing forward legislation aimed at allowing therapeutic cloning for embryonic stem cell research. From the Washington Post:

Spain plans to introduce legislation allowing therapeutic cloning, its Health Minister said on Monday, a decision likely to bring a new clash between the governing Socialists and the Roman Catholic church.

...

Governments of countries including Britain, Belgium, Singapore and China say the technique offers hope for a cure to conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer's and spinal cord injuries.

But the Vatican, the Bush administration in the United States and anti-abortion groups argue that it constitutes the taking of human lives.

The Vatican, anti-abortion groups, and the Bush administration. Shouldn't one of these three entities not be motivated by pro-Christian sentiment? What a wonderfully progressive contingent the United States is aligned with.

The article also contains our favorite quote of the week:

In an interview in newspaper El Mundo, [Health Minister] Elena Salgado said the legislation could be effective by next year.

"The Church has always been opposed to the advances of science, but fortunately science has continued progressing. And thanks to that we live in better conditions," she said.

Indeed.

And what do we have from the United States on stem cell research? From the Register in May, "Bush pledges to veto stem cell bill." In case you don't recall, the bill in question would make it legal to utilize the unused products of IVF treatments to extract stem cells, rather than tossing them in the trash after their allotted time in cold storage.

Here the United States sits as the world leaves us behind. At least we'll have the Pope to keep us company. Bully for us.

According to the bible thumpers that have been spouting off in the U.S. about their "culture of life" and "family values," we fully expect Spain to go the way of Atlantis and crumble into the sea any day now. Any day now....


— • —
[  Filed under: % Government & Politics  % Religion  % Science & Technology  ]

Comments (11)

STR, 2005.07.12 (Tue) 12:34 [Link] »

You know, I was upset about the whole deal with the US and stem cell research. And I still am. But, I have come to the conclusion, that what we dont do, someone else in the world will. And so long as some one somewhere does it, then that is what I feel is most important.

I have accepted that our country is no longer a world leader of inovation or science. Atleast if the current administration has anything to do with it, and well... they do. But I do thank the non-existent gods that the rest of the world is not like us. And I look forward to better days that may or may not come...

This is all the opinion of a pseudo passive cynic.



Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2005.07.12 (Tue) 13:38 [Link] »

We hear you, STR. We certainly acknowledge that the US is no longer a world leader in science on many fronts, but we can't bring ourselves to accept it. It just pisses us off too much. At the end of the day, though, we're also very happy that the rest of the world is picking up some of the United States' slack.

However, not allowing the scientists in the US to be involved in stem cell research is certainly hindering the overall development of that field. By taking our scientists away from the table, we are surely delaying the breakthroughs to come.

In terms of a sports analogy, it's not the same as putting the 1998 Bulls on the court without Michael Jordan, since they wouldn't have won without him and since stem cell research will certainly progress without the US. To us, it's more like fielding a baseball team with Dick Cheney playing center field. A solid team would still have a shot at winning the game, but it would be a much longer and harder road than it had to be.

And when it comes to medical breakthroughs (instead of sports), that kind of intentional and unnecessary handicap pisses us off to no end.



Grendel, 2005.07.12 (Tue) 23:10 [Link] »

The primary religious objection to stem cell research is that the cells come from embryos, thereby interceding in 'God's' life plans.

However, recent research suggests that we may be able to use adult stem cells as effectively. This end-runs the primary religious objection.



Rockstar, 2005.07.13 (Wed) 09:24 [Link] »

You all might hate me now, but I'm a Republican...

/ (dodges rocks, but continues to rock...)

However, the Creationist movement and the rest of the anti-science (ie. stem cell research or anything else religiously motivated) movement has non-religious conservatives in arms, myself included. Enough to make us vote Dem (Except Ted Kennedy or John Kerry. I just can't go there.)

Keep up the good work!



The Two Percent Company, 2005.07.13 (Wed) 13:52 [Link] »

Rockstar,

There are certainly some ideas among actual Republican views that hold merit. Like you said, though, the problem is that those sane views are too often eclipsed by the blathering of the rabid religious right. The Republican Party today is so far from what it used to be that, to us, it isn't even the same party.

We don't affiliate ourselves with any particular party, but our positions sometimes do lie in the traditional Republican camp. For example, we supported the Class Action Reform legislation that was passed several months ago, and we support the need for more tort reform (though not of the "capping damages" variety).

As far as Kerry, we didn't have any love for him, but we probably would have voted for just about anybody over Dubya.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.07.13 (Wed) 15:05 [Link] »

Grendel,

We hadn't heard much about the recent research indicating that adult stem cells might be just as effective as embryonic stem cells. If you have a link or a reference, we'd love to read about it.

We are aware of some other possible avenues that have been discussed lately as "alternatives."

According to the Washington Post, a new bill is being circulated to counter Bush's veto threat. That bill apparently makes way for two other approaches to the research. One approach:

...a single cell is removed from a days-old embryo created for fertility purposes and coaxed to become a self-replicating colony of stem cells, leaving the remainder of the embryo to develop normally.

However, there are opponents of this direction as well:

But critics have raised the possibility that individual cells removed from such young embryos may have the biological potential to become embryos themselves, which would mean their destruction or cultivation as colonies could still raise ethical issues.

Another avenue mentioned in the Washington Post article is being pushed by Stanford Professor William Hurlbut:

Hurlbut is the leading proponent of a different approach, which he calls altered nuclear transfer, or ANT. It involves the creation of an embryo — or what Hurlbut says is something akin to an embryo — that lacks a gene necessary for the development of a placenta. Because a placenta is required for an embryo to implant in a woman's womb, the altered embryo would be genetically incapable of becoming a fetus or a baby. For many, that would obviate ethical concerns about destroying it to get its stem cells.
[our emphasis]

Apparently, the Mighty Vatican has nodded at this one, at least tacitly.

There's also interest in umbilical cord blood, which holds other promises.

We're very excited about these other possibilities, and we would like to see them progress unhindered by dogma as well. Obviously (as we think you agree, Gren), we don't want to simply abandon embryonic stem cell research. But if it turns out that one or more of these alternate approaches are shown to be as effective as the stem cell research that is currently under fire, then everyone can be happy (though we're sure the religiosos will find something else to complain about).

However, we don't know if any of these avenues will pan out. So, we tend to agree with the following quotes on umbilical cord blood research:

Umbilical and embryonic stem cells "are not in any way interchangeable," said David Scadden, co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and chief of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine and Technology.

...

"The bottom line as far as I'm concerned is we just don't know at this point what each can do, and we ought to be investigating both," said Joanne Kurtzberg, director of the pediatric blood and marrow transplant program at Duke University Medical Center.

The bottom line to us:

"Don't stop embryonic stem cell research now, hoping there will be some other way to do it in the future," Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said in an interview. "These alternative methods of deriving stem cells — we don't know whether they'll work. The one thing we do know how to do is derive embryonic stem cells."

We say keep moving all of them forward for now. Otherwise, we might miss out on the best opportunities.



Rockstar, 2005.07.13 (Wed) 15:11 [Link] »

I agree completely 2%. 'Tis silly to commit one's self to one side only.



Grendel, 2005.07.13 (Wed) 16:03 [Link] »

The ultimate safety net is the aforementioned fact that stem cell research will go on in other countries, but it galls me to see it derailed in the US based on the reasons offered. To me, that seems 'an establishment of religion' in law, but I'm no lawyer.

As a new and frequent poster here, let me fill in my colors....

I'm a registered independent who leans left on some issues, right on others, and seldom goes outside the moderate range to either side. I am no huge fan of Bush, but neither am I rapidly anti-Bush as so many are. I begrudgingly voted for Bush in both 2000 and 2004, but only as the lesser of the two evils before me on the ballot. I almost wrote in Pat Paulsen last time, but alas, he is dead.

While an empirical skeptic, in politics I am decidedly cynical. To me (speaking hyperbolically here), the only substantive difference beween a Republican and a Democrat politician is the nature of lies they tell us. A Republican tends to lie in a more consrvative vein, while a Democrat tends to lie along more liberal lines. Consider me the love child of HL Mencken and Mark Twain.

My major complaint against Bush is the pervasive anti-scientism of his administration, as evidenced by the embryoinc stem cell research jihad and the undermining and trivialization of NASA and its operational plans.

When a new poster enters the arena there is a wonderfully human tendency to tread lightly until the above is discovered. Take note: I am impossible to offend and always keep in the front of my mind that, hey, it's a message board, not the UN Security Council or US Senate floor. Tromp all over me, me not care. ;)

~*~

RE: Adult stem cell research..... I saw a blurb on one of the 24 hr TV news networks, can't recall which... CNN. FOX, MSNBC....? I will try to locate a linkable source on that.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.07.13 (Wed) 22:55 [Link] »

Well, Grendel, we're happy to hear that you are impossible to offend. In our experience, having a thick skin is the only way that people can engage in certain conversations. Ditto for us — we never get offended.

And we hear you on the Democrats and the Republicans. Usually we look at both parties with pretty equal disdain. Lately, though, we've found ourselves rooting for the Dems based almost solely on a "lesser of two evils" analysis. It's a sad state that our political system is in.

It's always refreshing to find other people who rely on common sense when analyzing an issue instead of just blindly repeating a party line. We had a feeling that you weren't one of the political sheep even before you told us, though. Call it a psychic hunch. Or a physic hunch, even.



Grendel, 2005.07.14 (Thu) 09:44 [Link] »

We've no one to blame but ourselves, I suppose. For president we've elected in succession a peanut farmer, an actor, a blueblood, a horn dog, and the blueblood's boy.

In a way, I feel we've forfeited our right to complain, lol.



├ůsmund, 2005.07.15 (Fri) 15:13 [Link] »

Which university or college offers president as a vocational training subject?




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