Sunday, July 31, 2005

Public funding of stem cell research gets Frist behind it

Senator Frist isn't making many friends in the socially conservative side of the conservative side this week. He spoke out in favor of public funding of embyonic stem cell research.

::::::::WASHINGTON — Breaking with President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Friday threw his support behind legislation to expand federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research so long as it stays "within ethical bounds."

"It's not just a matter of faith, it's a matter of science," Frist, R-Tenn., said on the floor of the Senate.

Frist's announcement of support for the House-passed legislation immediately dented his support among Christian conservatives but won praise from Democrats, as well as from former first lady Nancy Reagan, whose husband, the late former President Ronald Reagan, had Alzheimer's disease for years before his death.

"Embryonic stem cell research has the potential to alleviate so much suffering," Nancy Reagan said. "Surely, by working together we can harness its life-giving potential."

President Bush has said that he doesn't support such funding and would veto any legislation that came to him authorizing it. He argues that life should not be created for the purpose of being destroyed to provide research material. My stance on that is that these 2 positions are not exclusive of each other. There are embryos at fertility clinic across the nation that get made for the purpose of allowing a couple to conceive. The fact of the matter is that it's not an exact science and there are almost always embryos left over after the successful conception has occured. As it stands today, those embryos are simply destroyed. They were not made for the purpose of providing research material. But they were made and they will continue to be at clinics such as this.

Unless someone is suggesting that each and every embryo so created must be implanted into the womb of a woman, I must ask why it is a better thing to just throw them away? As Senator Frist has said, we can do this with a clear conscience as long as we stay in the ethical bounds. Strict oversight of these clinics to ensure that only their true clients are having procedures done there (in other words that someone's not paying women to provide eggs for the express purpose of making embryos that will be turned over for research) will be required. I don't think that's an onerous requirement if we're going to go down this path.

I think Senator Frist is doing the right thing in this regard.