Monday, May 23, 2005

A response to Bush: RI Rep's pleas for ESCR and compassion

A long time friend of mine, Representative James Langevin, (D-RI), makes a compelling and eloquent argument for the advancement of embryonic stem cell research, in accordance with recently published National Academies Science guidelines. Jim has a rather unique perspective in this matter: At the age of sixteen, he was left paralyzed when a police officer's gun accidentally discharged and severed his spine. Because of his perspective, it has become one ofJim's callings in life to help those who are disabled or struggling with debilitating diseases and to help them look forward to enjoying longer, healthier and more productive lives. Balancing the potential harm with the potential good, Jim has decided to "err" on the side of helping those those that are suffering and in need of the help of science -- as have the Reagans and most Americans. Bush, it seems, is more intent on preserving idealogy rather than dealing with the everyday suffering of individuals, like those of Jim Langevin.

That doesn't mean that ESCR is totally ethically concern-free. To mention just a few, here are some concerns that we can and should continue to address and discuss: IVF embryos as a limited resource, the commodification of life, the long-term impact of IVF on women's bodies and the resulting children, are we "strip-mining" women's bodies for what we percieve to be gold? Or fuel for what we think might be the fountain of youth? What about umbilical cord stem cells? Are they not plentiful and totipotent? Just because we use ESCR now, doesn't mean that we will always want to or should. Just like the issue of fossil fuels vs. alternative fuel sources, we need to ask "at what cost?".

BUT, the for time being, when I listen to my friend and see the hope that he holds in his heart and in his mind for the capability of being able to walk again in this lifetime, it makes me realize that, at this time, it would be terrible injustice to him and others in his position, for Bush to veto a bill in support of stem cell research. As one of the previous authors in the AJOB blog said, the real energy is with the states right now, but it's not too late to see some serious progress, if the Feds move quickly.

No comments: