Sunday, July 31, 2005

# Posted 12:59 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE STEM CELL TWO-STEP: Bill Kristol is outraged by Bill Frist's decision to "cell out" by supporting the expansion of stem cell research. Kristol, writing along with Eric Cohen, says that "the incoherence of Frist's position is stagging."
But if incoherence is a problem, then I'm going to ask for a clarification from Mr. Kristol himself. According to the editors of the WaPo,
The emotional debate involves whether to allow scientists to use embryos left over from in vitro fertilization to generate new stem cell lines. The current policy permits federally funded scientists to use only existing stem cell lines, not to destroy additional embryos to develop new ones. Even though the embryos at issue would be discarded in any event, this might have been a reasonable compromise had those lines proved adequate to the promising research that has been taking place in this field.
Kristol acknowledges that the stem cell debate, at the present juncture, is about whether it is permissible to destroy "spare" embryos set to be discarded in order to harvest their stem cells. Kristol opposes the destruction of such spares on the grounds that "none of us possesses the authority to consent to their destruction." But if Kristol accepts that we have the authority to discard such spares -- resulting in their certain destruction -- why don't we have the authority to destroy such spares in a way that may save lives in the future?

The only way for Kristol to square this circle is to come out against in vitro fertilization (IVF), the process that results in the creation of such "spares". But even if Kristol were anti-IVF, the public embrace of such an extreme position might destroy his credibility on the stem cell issue. Thus, at least for the moment, I'd have to say that Dr. Frist is the one making the coherent argument.

For a comprehensive round up of stem cell blogging, check out TMV.
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