Feeding the White Elephant: Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research

With the onset of the new president-elect Barack Obama accelerating toward the driver’s seat of democratically controlled Congress, conservatives cannot help but brace themselves for the sweeping reversal of many of Bush’s policies – particularly in regard to stem cell research. Parties on both sides of the aisle expect Obama to issue an executive order ending the government federal funding ban on embryonic stem cell (ESC) research.

With as much progress stem cell research has achieved, applying the brakes to this Bush policy will detrimentally alter forthcoming advancements. Moral issues aside, ESC research has been spinning in a rut since its inception. Fueling its “development” with federal funding will merely exacerbate the problem.

After nearly a decade, human ESC research is much like the wizard in Dorothy’s Oz: facially powerful, substantively empty. With the promise being a virtual panacea, consider the results: there have been zero treatments and zero clinical trials. Total cost: billions. The continuous mantra chanted by its advocates still sounds, “more time.” California committed $3 billion in tax-payer monies over 10 years with the goal of developing a single treatment. Connecticut and Maryland have invested millions as well. They still have virtually nothing to show.

Consider the alternative: adult stem cells have treated over 80 diseases with over 1,300 clinical trials. Advancements in cord blood banking, and induced pluripotent stem cells are leading the way in medical breakthroughs. Recently, European physicians completed the first successful transplant of a human windpipe using (you guessed it) adult stem cells. Plenty more could be said of treatments for leukemia, diabetes, sickle-cell anemia and heart disease.

The government should support what works; it makes common financial sense: invest in known, proven, un-problematic means to advance medicine for a guaranteed rate of return. But channeling that money into decade-long speculation without proven results serves to limit development in medical pioneering. It is essentially pork barrel spending.

ESC research is by no means limited as a “moral” issue. An executive order subsidizing this research merely feeds the white elephant.


22 thoughts on “Feeding the White Elephant: Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research

  1. Aaron- I didn’t begin my inquiry at the point of using the hESC lines. In fact, I introduced the topic with a rather lengthy (and if I do say so myself, rather well-written) paragraph that clearly situates the matter within a discussion of the IVF procedure and the embryo’s death. Naturally, since I used the example, I do not think that there is a distinction between using a murdered person’s organ’s and using a surplus embryo for hESC research. Both bring a benefit out of evil. With regards to the embryo specifically, the evil is inevitable. They will be destroyed regardless. For our purposes, it is as if the embryo had already died. Indeed, many of the embryos that are stored through the cryopreservation process have already died. If one is opposed to the destruction of embryos one must also be opposed to their use in the IVF procedure- their surplus, and subsequent destruction in IVF clinics only add salt to the wound. Are you opposed to the IVF procedure wholesale? If you are not, then using the embryos is not tantamount to killing them because using the hESC lines is the result of their destruction, rather than the cause of their destruction. We are not killing embryos. We are gleaning a good from their death.Your point that once the embryos are created, you are to treat them as you would any other human person, is a fine one. But it ignores the reality of the procedure. We do not ordinarily cryogenetically freeze people (baseball great Ted Williams notably excepted). The embryos that are being stored in the IVF clinics will be destroyed after a certain period. We could completely ban hESC research (though this is unlikely given the new Administration & Congress), and this would not save the life of a single embryo. But using the hESC lines at least brings a moral good from their death. I’m glad we agree on an expansive pro-life view. I think the policy question going forward is to identify which policy objectives fall within the purview of being pro-life, and to convince other conservatives that the agenda is worthwhile. Though, this is no small order given that any government spending at all will give acid reflux to some. To torture the metaphor further, I’m ‘cooking up’ a post on trade, and foreign assistance for after finals.

  2. For my part, the financial sense point was an allusion to the original language of Ben’s post. But, on the funding issue, I still think we are putting the cart before the horse. There may be an absence of progress in embryonic stem cell research, but this is because we have refused to fund it. Dividends cannot be returned absent an initial investment of capital. The issue is not that the investment made in embryonic stem cell research was a bad one. It is that we never made an investment at all. I cannot speak to the matches example, because I’m not sure how matches relate to embryos. (Unless the suggestion is that we take the matches, and burn all the embryos because we are going to waste them anyway). 🙂On the life issue, if one believes that embryonic stem cells research is a bad use of federal dollars, then the lot falls upon opponents to justify the resultant, double waste of life: The embryos are going to be destroyed anyway, so life is wasted even by doing nothing. The second waste of life comes when people die of diseases that might have been cured through embryonic stem cell research.How do we protect the ‘first principle’ of life’s sacredness, when we staunchly oppose research that could preserve it?

  3. Isn’t there an ‘common financial sense’ argument to be made for using embryonic stem cells for research- particularly since they are destroyed anyway?

  4. 1) Only federal dollars are prohibited from funding ESC research. States and private entities are free to fund their own research. They have and have shown virtually no results. So the idea that ESC hasn’t shown results due to lack of federal dollars isn’t tenable. 2) A fortune could be made on the private market for finding cures for diseases. If there is a lack of funding from private sources, it shows that the investment isn’t worth it. The federal government shouldn’t be involved in picking winners that have already been rejected by the private market…especially when those winners justify the experimental destruction of human life.3) Tons of research is done on adult stem cells and the results justify the ESC federal funding ban. If you have two alternatives one of which provides real results and doesn’t involve the destruction of human life and one which has shown no results and requires the destruction of life, what justification is there for the 2nd alternative?

  5. Tory, my point was not that embryos are difficult to obtain but rather that usage of such embryos have not resulted in any medical breakthroughs.Funding such endeavors because embryos are abundant fails to address the lack of results.Rather than invest the quixotic promise of ESC research, monies should be placed in something that works.

  6. Aaron, in reply to your post, I am arguing that hESC research is consistent with a pro-life position because both are rooted in concern for life itself. The matter turns upon the extent to which one views the pro-life position. A ‘traditional’ view might be typified as the steadfast protection of the unborn without considering life’s many, varied elements. An ‘expansive’ view of being pro-life might be said to include the need to support life across the spectrum of human existence: health care, the environment, promoting democracy abroad, supporting foreign assistance, providing people an equality of opportunity, access to education, etc… I think that supporting hESC research is pro-life because the technology holds tremendous promise for many. It could directly affect the health and well-being of Americans, and ailing people across the globe. With respect to your point about the destruction of embryos I think one can draw a distinction between the use of hESC lines derived from the embryos, and the destruction of the embryos that makes the hESC lines available, and arrive at a pro-life position. With respect to IVF embryos, these are not created for the purposes of destruction. They are embryos that are going to be destroyed regardless. Using the hESC lines for research purposes does not encourage the destruction of the embryos because the embryos have been created for a separate, distinct purpose. Moreover, at IVF clinics, these embryos are likely to continue to be created for similar purposes, and the surplus of embryos is likely to continue. Further, hESC research does not encourage the creation of embryos for destruction because the embryos’ destruction will continue apace whether the hESC lines are used or not. Morally, this makes the matter of using the hESC lines closer to the fairly typical scenario of using an organ donated from a person who was recently murdered in order to sustain life- rather than anything similar to killing the unborn (viz., abortion). We may loathe the circumstances that led to the embryos being available (though many couples would laud their access to IVF); and we many mourn the organ donor’s murder, but we incur no moral opprobrium for using either.

  7. I am opposed to IVF procedures wholesale, for reasons I can state in a post after exams are out.I think part of our discussion is like discussing the Iraq war. We may have been opposed or in favor of the war before it began. But, in a sense, that is irrelevant now. The relevant question is what to do about it now that the war is ongoing and in future similar situations.Once embryos are created, what are we to do with them? You say that the embryos will be “destroyed” anyway, but that verb indicates an act on someone’s part. Why not let the embryos die naturally? That is not “destroying” them in the sense you are using the word.I’ll write more about what I think a consistent pro-life vision entails over the break. And yes, it will include issues of the environment, war, etc. We must be comprehensive in our approach, and at the foundation of that position is no intentional taking of innocent human life.

  8. 1. The vast majority of scientific innovation that has occurred in America within the past forty-years has been the product of < HREF="http://www.itif.org/index.php?id=158" REL="nofollow">federal funding<>.2. In your initial comment, you said: “If you begin with the first principle that life – all life – is sacred, then the “financial sense” argument carries little weight.” Now you’ve argued:“A fortune could be made on the private market for finding cures for diseases.”Which way is it? Are we trying to make fortunes, or does the financial argument still make little sense?3. The two-alternatives contrast rests upon the strength of a straw man. I am not arguing that adult stem cell research has provided no results. But I am arguing that embryonic stem cell research has not provided similar results because we have refused to fund it. (You will doubtless recall that adult stem cell research produced similar non-results until we shifted federal dollars toward it in the middle-1990s).The bottom line remains the same: it falls on the lot of the opposition to justify a double loss of life: The embryos in the labs are going to be destroyed anyway. Why not use them and allow funding for research? How can we be pro-life and then argue against the very medical research that could preserve it- particularly in light of the imminent, inevitable destruction of the embryos?

  9. Aaron- I suspected you might be opposed to IVF wholesale. Fair enough. I obviously do not share your perspective, but I will be curious to take a look at your post. With respect to letting the embryos die a natural death, I’m curious also to learn what you mean. How can an embryo that has been artificially created, cryogenetically frozen, and stored in a laboratory die a ‘natural’ death? Certainly, current lab techniques all involve the destruction of the embryo, whether by dousing them in alcohol and incinerating them, discarding them as biological waste, subjecting them to extreme cold, or extracting their hESC lines. One could argue based on the options above that extracting the hESC lines from the embryo is as ‘natural’ a death as any…

  10. 1. I mentioned the potential financial rewards of curing diseases only to show that if ESC research were as potentially successful, then private dollars would be flowing to it. 2. There is no straw man. In the stem cell debate there are only two alternative types of research: those methods that destroy life and those methods that don’t destroy life. When the “don’t destroy life” method is actually provable, while the “destroy life” method is unprovable, all arguments in favor of destroying embryos are lost.As I stated earlier, only the federal government has a ban on funding. Further, the US is one of only a few Western nations with a ban on funding for ESC research. Nowhere has ESC produced actual results.3. My understanding is that roughly 3% of embryos produced for IVF could be used for ESC research. According to most ESC scientists, that number is far too short of what would be required to conduct any meaningful research. Which means that additional embryos would have to be produced somehow: either IVF doctors would have to create many more embryos than necessary from IVF patients (which is apparently not a pleasant experience for the woman) with the implicit understanding that those surplus embryos would be donated/sold for research purposes, or embryos would have to be produced through human cloning. The human cloning theory, of course, opens up an entirely new ethical dilemma involving the creation of human life solely for the purposes of destroying it.4. Finally, you ask, “How can we be pro-life and then argue against the very medical research that could preserve it- particularly in light of the imminent, inevitable destruction of the embryos?” I turn the question back to you. How can you be pro-life and propose destroying a human life for any reason? In ethical questions, we often try to skirt certain issues by claiming there aren’t bright line distinctions. Yet, for most ethical questions, there are very clear bright lines, but we try to skirt them for pragmatic or utilitarian reasons. I allude to the “first principles” of conservatism addressed in my most recent full posting. Consider the first principles of the sanctity of life. There are only two alternatives: either life begins at conception or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, then there really is no clear way (indeed, any way at all) to make distinctions as to when it is appropriate to destroy life. If life doesn’t begin at conception, then it is virtually impossible to defend restrictions on anything related to embryos from ESC research to human cloning to abortion. OR in the alternative, life begins at conception, in which case you now have a bright first principle to inform other public policy positions. For all his shortcomings, President Bush firmly believes in the sanctity of life, and that belief informed his decision to prohibit this funding. Instead of setting the research back, it allowed the non-destructive research on adult stem cells to flourish and show the ability to produce results that are only a dream to ESC researchers.

  11. 1. I think you’ve overstated the munificence of the market- particularly in light of the fact that federal investments in research have been requisites to spurring scientific innovation. But assuming you haven’t, should we also suspend funding for the missile defense program as well? The MDA has produced results only under carefully-constrained, test conditions. We have poured billions of public dollars into the program, and the best we can do is shoot down a rocket after we tell another rocket where the first is heading. Why should government be concerned about defense, but not about medical advancement and the health of its citizens? 2. There is a straw man. The straw man is that embryonic stem cell research is ‘unprovable’. I suppose the preliminary question to ask is what you mean by provable or unprovable. For now, I will take the liberty of guessing that you are talking about research results as ‘proof.’ If so, then the issue with human embryonic stem cells (hESC) is not a lack of results. The issue is that the federal government’s ban on funding has stymied innovation. But, where embryonic stem cell research has been undertaken with private dollars, results have been generated- though on a much attenuated level due to its lack of funding. In my college days, I studied under the bioethicist Ron Green who sits on the board of advisers for a company called ACT (Advanced Cell Technologies) based out of LA. Last spring, ACT developed some 140 cell types out of hESC lines, and as recently as August ACT used hESC lines to develop fully functioning red blood cells. To say that hESC research holds no promise simply isn’t true. You can check out some of the work ACT is doing here:[< HREF="http://www.advancedcell.com/press-release/advanced-cell-technology-platform-yields-over-140-cell-types-from-human-embryonic-stem-cells" REL="nofollow">Link<>]3. Where does the 3% come from? Agreed, that human cloning takes us in a new direction- one I will avoid for now. 4. I am a little disappointed that you address my question by not answering it. Fair enough. I suppose, if you are returning my question to me (“How can we be pro-life and then argue against the very medical research that could preserve it?”), then my answer is that I am not arguing this point. You are. If you want me to address the new question, then my answer is that being pro-life is about more than being anti-science, and anti-research. Being pro-life means more than merely defending the life of the unborn. “Life doesn’t end at the birth canal.” I can think of no stronger pro-life position than to support the scientific research that could benefit the lives of millions. 5. If your missive on ethical dilemmas is that they avoid bright-line rules, then I agree. By definition, an ethical dilemma is not one that lends itself to obvious answers or bright lines. But I obviously do not share your assessment that ethical dilemmas are the result of ‘pragmatic or utilitarian reasons.’ I think that ethical dilemmas can be the result of genuine, honest disagreement on moral issues. On the other hand, it is unfortunate, but we seem to treat pragmatism as if it were a four-letter word these days. But even the Administration’s position on stem cell research is pragmatic. I had to do a bit of digging, but the current policy is not a wholesale ban on federal funding for hESC research – not an insignificant point that we have all, perhaps, been misstating. The policy is that we will only allow federal dollars to be spent on extant hESC cell lines. [< HREF="http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/08/20010809-1.html" REL="nofollow">Link<>]I do not question President Bush’s commitment to the sanctity of life. But his position on hESC research is not quite as stalwart as it may seem. In fact, he can be rightly credited with being the first President to have allowed funding for hESC research at all.

  12. 1. Interesting links.2. In your previous comment you hearkened to the “potential financial rewards” to say that if “ESC research were successful then private dollars would be flowing into it.” I raised the missile defense example to show that we routinely invest in things that in the short-term do not yield the results we would like but ultimately have the potential to create tremendous benefit to our Nation. 3. I chose my words carefully. I know the definition of a straw man- though I appreciate your quick wikipedia of the term. The straw man is that you have misstated the ‘two-alternatives’ of the hESC debate in order to conjure your ‘first principles’ motif, and re-situate the entire conversation in a ‘who-is-more-pro-life’ contest. The two-alternatives that you have contrasted completely ignore the results I mentioned (Yet your initial point was “Only federal dollars are prohibited from funding ESC research. States and private entities are free to fund their own research. <>They have and have shown virtually no results<>“); they fail to address what makes a research technique “provable” or “unprovable”; and they utterly disregard the fact that our reluctance to fund hESC research has stymied innovation. Rather than substantively address any of these points, you reduce the conversation to “hESC research is unethical.” I am still waiting for a rebuttal to any of the above…4. You call my position an obfuscation of the issue and ignore for the second time my initial question to you: How can we be pro-life and then argue against the very medical research that could preserve it- particularly in light of the imminent, inevitable destruction of the embryos? The answer, ‘well, life is sacred’ does not address the inconsistency. Additionally, calling the embryo the most important “point” of the hESC debate utterly cheapens the lives of millions of people who suffer from ailments that this research could cure. I will grant that your position springs from a concern for the unborn. I do not disagree. But to say that the embryo is the most important “point” of this debate is a rank belittlement of the dire medical straits that affect so many. This is anathema to the holistic view of what it means to be pro-life that you endorsed in your comment (To wit, “I agree (and Aaron has indicated that he agrees, too) that being pro-life involves more than protecting unborn children”). Certainly, the embryo is an important consideration- but it is not ‘<>the<> most important point’ of this conversation. 5. Your ‘answer’ to the ethical dilemma of hESC research is a convenient one. In essence, you are saying, ‘I am right. hESC research is not pro-life. It is unethical. Therefore we shouldn’t do it.’ But by the same logic, I could submit my own ‘answer’, ‘I am right. hESC research is pro-life. It is perfectly ethical. And we should fund it.’ Such platitudes do little in advancing the conversation. That said, the end of your point is intriguing: “If we can produce the same results without destroying human life, how can we even bear to make the argument that we should continue with life-destryoing ESC research.” It is generous at best to assume that the results gleaned from adult stem cell research would equal the indeterminate potential of hESC research. Just because a cell has pluripotent qualities does not mean that it possesses the same pluripotent attributes of an embryonic stem cell. In fact, one of the scientific community’s major criticisms of adult stem cell research, according the National Institutes of Health, is that adult stem cells have limited potential compared to attributes of hESCs- particularly with regards to their life span for research.

  13. Tory-I do not think your position is consistent with a pro-life position. Let’s put all the funding, private/federal issues aside for the moment and focus on the most basic distinction at issue. You say that the pro-life opposition must justify a “double loss of life” and that given the “imminent, inevitable destruction of the embryos,” that is reason to fund and pursue research on embryonic life at the federal level. But this issue does not raise the moral problem of a double effect and I do not think you are strictly utilitarian about these things. If you believe that life begins at conception, then all other arguments about life after conception vary in degree and not in kind. So, if killing embryonic human life is not wrong, how about human life a little later, say at 12 weeks gestation? 20 weeks? 8 1/2 months? Two years after birth? Where do you draw the line? Your position would lay the foundation for other ways to kill human beings–from abortion to euthanasia. Your position is basically this: These embryos will die anyway, so why not do something “useful” with them? But, of course, you will die too along with the rest of us. How can you distinguish between using your classmate for medical research and using another very young human being for research? Research on embryos creates a class of people that we collectively say have less value than others. This has happened before in other societies–Nazi Germany doing medical research on Jews for one, mass genocide in other countries for another. Even in our own society, groups have been targeted as unworthy to be treated as fully human–African and Native Americans to name just a couple of groups. It is not pro-life to say that “X is going to die, so we can tinker with X to possibly benefit Y.” That’s like saying, “Grandma’s got Parkinson’s. Rather than let Grandma die naturally, let’s experiment on her in the hope that someone with a similar ailment will benefit.” There is no “double loss of life” going on if you do not use one person as a means to purportedly help another. It is not pro-life (at any stage of life) to use someone as a means and not treat them as an end. Even if embryonic research were 100% guaranteed to produce cures, it would still be ethically wrong. I ask you to put the funding issues aside and tell me how the killing of human beings can be part of a consistent pro-life position. If you do not believe life begins at conception, then that makes this discussion moot and I need to persuade you otherwise, but at least let us know that.

  14. Ben, fair enough. But I didn’t say anything about the difficulty of obtaining embryos. No one is saying that embryos are difficult to obtain. In fact, most labs report a surplus of embryos that will ultimately be destroyed having served no purpose at all. But given that the embryos are going to be destroyed one way or another(whether through research, or because of the labs will get rid of them), isn’t it more efficient to open these additional, embryonic stem cell lines to research?

  15. Tory, you are still thinking about the issue starting at Step Two instead of at the most basic level.The difference between using a murdered person’s organs and killing an embryo is that in the former case, you are bring something good out of some evil that happened. In the latter case, you are doing evil to hopefully bring about some good. It is never justified to do evil to bring about good–this is a basic means-ends situation.I think your “expansive” pro-life concept is the only kind of pro-life position. Being pro-life rests on a respect for the sanctity and dignity of all human life, no matter what the stage. So, I am–unlike some–very interested in helping the environment, finding a solution to poverty, AIDS, etc. At the same time, you cannot accomplish a good end–increased advances in health care–through direct evil–the killing of others. That is simply not pro-life.I do not agree with the use of IVF for reasons beyond the creation of embryos. Still, your distinction about how embryos are created does not carry much weight. Once you have the embryos, however and for whatever reason they were created, you are to treat them as you would any other human person.I’m still waiting for a consistent pro-life answer that does not involve the direct killing of human beings at some point in the chain.

  16. 1. First, an offer. Check out this article from the journal First Things. The author is much more in tune with all of the arguments associated with this subject and has the factual knowledge to fully found her claims. (http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=6137&var_recherche=embryonic).Also, there is a book on this subject by Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefson (who incidentally is a professor here at South Carolina). I believe the title is Embryo: In Defense of Human Life. 2. Obviously, you understand the distinction between missile defense and ESC research. No one is making the case that all trial-and-error (which I suppose encompasses all medical research) research should be abandoned in favor of only medical research that has produced results. That is a logical impossibility. The argument is that we should not conduct research that involves destroying embryos when a viable (indeed, more successful) alternative exists. 3. You are confusing a straw man with something else, perhaps just an argument with which you disagree. A straw man fallacy occurs when you misstate or simplify an opponent’s argument, in order to more easily defeat it. My argument that ESC hasn’t produced results is not a straw man. In fact, it seems that you agree with that statement; you just disagree as to the cause.However, there is a straw man fallacy in your argument. You state “why should the government be concerned about defense, but not about medical advancement and the health of its citizens.” Later on, you say that the pro-life position, my position, is “anti-science and anti-research.” Clearly, neither Aaron nor I are arguing that the government shouldn’t be concerned about medical advancement and the health of its citizens or that being pro-life requires one to be anti-science. Instead, my main argument is that other, more proven methods are available NOW to increase the health of American citizens. 4. My charge to you was to answer the new question. As for your answer to that question, a few responses: I agree (and Aaron has indicated that he agrees, too) that being pro-life involves more than protecting unborn children. However, at its most basic level, being pro-life is EXACTLY about defending these lives. It is the starting point—and the most important point. Further, your response (“I can think of no stronger pro-life position that to support the scientific research that could benefit the lives of millions”) obfuscates the issue. In fact, it leaves out the distinguishing characteristic between your position and ours. The issue isn’t about supporting scientific research that could benefit millions; the issue is about supporting research that requires the destruction of life in order to perform medical research. As far as your original question, I believe I have already answered it throughout the course of my comments (“How can we be pro-life and then argue against the very medical research that could preserve it?”). The answer (again) is this: life is sacred from the moment of conception. Medical research is available that is more promising than ESC research, that doesn’t require the destruction of human life—and has shown actual results. 5. Ethical dilemmas: the ethical dilemma on this issue isn’t as gray as it might appear. Indeed, even a few years ago, there would have been stronger pragmatic arguments for supporting this research because the absence of alternatives made the ethical dilemma more difficult to resolve. I want to make clear, however, my position: ESC research is unethical and irreconcilable with the pro-life premise that life is sacred for the moment of conception, regardless of the alternatives available. Yet, we are now able to produce pluripotent cells with the same capabilities, and thus the same promise, as embryonic stem cells. Herein lies the answer to our ethical dilemma. If we can produce the same results without destroying human life, how can we even bear to make the argument that we should continue with life-destroying ESC research?

  17. True, there are a surplus of embryos. Technically, they could be used for research and in many cases, they are. Still, with the myriads of embryos and research being done on them, there is still an absence of progress.That they may be destroyed otherwise is an unpersuasive justification to invest in such research.For example, I might have dozens of used matches, but just because they are available and people would throw them away does not mean I should collect them and try to make a fire. It would not make sense.Arguably human life should not be reduced to a disposable commodity but my example illustrates the following point: investing in ESC because it is possible detracts from other proven, reliable research.

  18. I still do not understand why you do not want to focus federal money on adult stem cell research. As Eliot (and I think I have) noted, if we have a workable alternative producing actual results and no moral issue, why do you hold on to the purported “promise” of embryonic stem cells?Some links for all:From the National Catholic Bioethics Center: (http://www.usccb.org/prolife/programs/rlp/ArticlePacholczykNoCropsHiRez.pdf)From a debate on California’s decision to fund ESM research a few years back. This is the “Ethics” segment of the discussion: (http://www.uctv.tv/search-details.asp?showID=9064)

  19. I agree with Tory that there is more of a common-sensical argument to be made. Any manufacturer knows that you do not invest in something that does not work when there is a more readily available item that has been proven to work (or help significantly) in the same situations. It’s just good business sense.

  20. I think the argument goes beyond utilitarianism. If you begin with the first principle that life – all life – is sacred, then the “financial sense” argument carries little weight. President Bush’s steadfast refusal to permit federal funding of ESC didn’t lead to a void of research on curing diseases. It led to research in alternative types of stem cells…research that has proven to produce actual results.

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