More propaganda on stem cells

Thomas Lifson
The debate over funding for stem cell research has been marked by deliberate obfuscation and overblown promises. There is a huge difference between embryonic stem cell research and the other two types of stem cell research. Today, the left wing Los Angeles Times publishes an op-ed  by Sigrid Fry-Revere of the Cato Institute which conforms to this pattern of propaganda. While arguing against government funding of stem cell research, the op-ed does nothing to clarify the essential distinction between embryonic stem cell research, the holy grail for cultural leftists anxious to protect the abortion industry, and adult and umbilical stem cell research.

Claims that embryonic stem cells are essential objects of research weaken the argument that embryos are human beings, whose lives deserve protection. The movement to persuade the voting public that they will be denied cures because of unreasonable restrictions on embryonic stem cell research serves as ammunition for abortion absolutists, harnessing perceived self-interest in cures (however unlikely) as a weapon against arguments for the sanctity of the lives of the unborn.

Embryonic stem cell research has yet to produce a usable therapy. For precisely that reason, private funding of embryonic stem cell research is hard to come by. Private researchers want results. The voter initiatives showering taxpayer money on stem cell research have been specifically aimed at fetal stem cells, despite their lack of promise. The abortion agenda has trumped results in directing our taxes toward research.

Fry-Revere takes the absolutist position that all government funding of all stem cell research is bad, a characteristic position of the libertarian Cato Institute. But she also fails to note that abundant private money has been directed toward adult and cord stem cell research because it is getting results. Corporations are not interested in embryonic stem cell research because it has shown so little promise of usable results.

Any fair-minded analysis of the politics of the situation requires examination of this distinction between embryonic stem cell research and the other two types, both of which face no moral objections from any serious critics. So why would Fry-Revere obfuscate rather than clarify in her analysis?

A clue comes in this verbiage:
For years, researchers lobbied government to fund IVF, but amid Luddite cries that "test-tube babies" would lead to societal ruin, funding was denied at every turn. [emphasis added]
As a libertarian organization, Cato opposes restrictions on abortion. Fair enough. But any public policy research organ that obfuscates important factors out of apparent ideological bias weakens its credibility. Sadly, that appears to be the case on the embryonic stem cell question and Cato.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

Update: Sigrid Fry-Revere responds: 
Please note that the Cato Institute has not taken a position on abortion. Furthermore, you do not know my personal stand on abortion, and it is presumptuous of you to believe you can extrapolate from my stand on stem cell research what I believe regarding abortion.   For many libertarians, and for me personally, the issue is not as black and white as you try to make it.
Please also note that, while I thank you for bringing up the distinction between the various types of stem cell research, and I believe the distinctions you make are morally relevant, I try not to confuse moral relevance with political strategic relevance.  Furthermore, since private funding is being spent on all forms of stem cell research, not just adult or umbilical cord stem cells, the distinction isn't relevant for the purposes of this particular article.

Thank you,
Sigrid Fry-Revere, J.D., Ph.D.
Director of Bioethics Studies
Cato Institute
1000 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
The debate over funding for stem cell research has been marked by deliberate obfuscation and overblown promises. There is a huge difference between embryonic stem cell research and the other two types of stem cell research. Today, the left wing Los Angeles Times publishes an op-ed  by Sigrid Fry-Revere of the Cato Institute which conforms to this pattern of propaganda. While arguing against government funding of stem cell research, the op-ed does nothing to clarify the essential distinction between embryonic stem cell research, the holy grail for cultural leftists anxious to protect the abortion industry, and adult and umbilical stem cell research.

Claims that embryonic stem cells are essential objects of research weaken the argument that embryos are human beings, whose lives deserve protection. The movement to persuade the voting public that they will be denied cures because of unreasonable restrictions on embryonic stem cell research serves as ammunition for abortion absolutists, harnessing perceived self-interest in cures (however unlikely) as a weapon against arguments for the sanctity of the lives of the unborn.

Embryonic stem cell research has yet to produce a usable therapy. For precisely that reason, private funding of embryonic stem cell research is hard to come by. Private researchers want results. The voter initiatives showering taxpayer money on stem cell research have been specifically aimed at fetal stem cells, despite their lack of promise. The abortion agenda has trumped results in directing our taxes toward research.

Fry-Revere takes the absolutist position that all government funding of all stem cell research is bad, a characteristic position of the libertarian Cato Institute. But she also fails to note that abundant private money has been directed toward adult and cord stem cell research because it is getting results. Corporations are not interested in embryonic stem cell research because it has shown so little promise of usable results.

Any fair-minded analysis of the politics of the situation requires examination of this distinction between embryonic stem cell research and the other two types, both of which face no moral objections from any serious critics. So why would Fry-Revere obfuscate rather than clarify in her analysis?

A clue comes in this verbiage:
For years, researchers lobbied government to fund IVF, but amid Luddite cries that "test-tube babies" would lead to societal ruin, funding was denied at every turn. [emphasis added]
As a libertarian organization, Cato opposes restrictions on abortion. Fair enough. But any public policy research organ that obfuscates important factors out of apparent ideological bias weakens its credibility. Sadly, that appears to be the case on the embryonic stem cell question and Cato.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

Update: Sigrid Fry-Revere responds: 
Please note that the Cato Institute has not taken a position on abortion. Furthermore, you do not know my personal stand on abortion, and it is presumptuous of you to believe you can extrapolate from my stand on stem cell research what I believe regarding abortion.   For many libertarians, and for me personally, the issue is not as black and white as you try to make it.
Please also note that, while I thank you for bringing up the distinction between the various types of stem cell research, and I believe the distinctions you make are morally relevant, I try not to confuse moral relevance with political strategic relevance.  Furthermore, since private funding is being spent on all forms of stem cell research, not just adult or umbilical cord stem cells, the distinction isn't relevant for the purposes of this particular article.

Thank you,
Sigrid Fry-Revere, J.D., Ph.D.
Director of Bioethics Studies
Cato Institute
1000 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001