The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, June 10, 2004

Stem cell politics getting interesting?

Could it be that, the plan is coming together?

We have Nancy Reagan, of course. And John Kerry, looking for an appropriate issue with which to silence his Pharisees.

And things seem to be loosening up on the legislative front, too: 58 US senators [1] have signed a letter to Bush [2] which starts

We write to urge you to expand the current federal policy concerning embryonic stem cell research.
and concludes
We would very much like to work with you to modify the current embryonic stem cell policy so that it provides this area of research the greatest opportunity to lead to the treatments and cures for which we all are hoping.

It doesn't propose in so many words lifting the current restrictions on Federal funding for stem cell research, but the intention is clear.

In April, 206 members of the House had sent a letter with similar intent [3].

Bush's decision in August 2001 I'm struggling to track down: there is no conceivably relevant Executive Order signed in that month on the NARA list. There is Bush's August 9 2001 remarks at the Crawford ranch:
I have concluded that we should allow federal funds to be used for research on these existing stem cell lines, where the life and death decision has already been made.

But surely those words don't ipso facto have legal effect?

  1. This page lists 56 names.

  2. The text of the letter is here .

  3. The text on Rep Diana DeGette's site. No list of the members online, that I've managed to find yet, at least.


While the URLs are to hand, one or two relevant CRS reports: Stem Cell Research (RL31015 PDF) March 10 2003; SCR (RS20523) September 19 2000; Background and Legal Issues Related to Stem Cell Research June 12 2002.


Rick Weiss in WaPo points out today that Alzheimer's disease
is among the least likely to benefit
from a stem cell research effort untrammelled by the current limitations on Federal funding.

The source attribution? Blow me down! Even here, we get damned anonymice:
stem cell experts confess

The lack of qualification presumably doesn't implie that all such experts so confess - we're down to an indeterminate number.

Weiss names a source - one Michael Shelanski - and describes him as
echoing many other experts
which puts me in mind of Alpine shepherds and The Sound of Music.

Of course, the coincidence of Reagan's cause of death and his widow's championship of lifting the stem cell funding restrictions naturally lead Joe Public to a different conclusion from that to which those experts confess.

Weiss deadpans:
It is a distortion that some admit is not being aggressively corrected by scientists.

Ronald McKay, another researcher, says
people need a fairy tale

Politics' loss is science's gain.

The public were deceived about WMD, and thousands died. They're deceived about stem cell treatments, and millions live.

It's a funny old world...

(Oh - the piece ran on A3. Chance of anyone much noticing? Pretty slim.)

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