Saturday, July 30

Frists amazing break with the Radical Right on Stem Cells

Cross posted on Dailykos:

Yesterday on C-Span, Senator/Doctor Bill Frist announced his position on funding of Stem Cell Research, making a strong break with the Bush Administration and the GOP majority.

He supports it.

Click to view statements from

Senator Frist's comments on the Senate Floor:

"Since 2001. when Stem Cell reseach first captured our nation's attention, I've said that many times - the issue should be and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. Not just because the science holds tremendous promise, but because it's developing with breath-taking speed. Indeed, stem cell research present that first major moral and ethical challenge to bio-medical research in the 21st Century."

"Everyday we unlock more of the mysteries of life, and more ways to enhance our health. This compels profound questions."

"How we answer these questions today, impacts not only current research by future research as well."

"So when I as a heart transplant surgeon, remove that human heart from someone who is brain-dead and I place it in the chest of someone who'se heart has failed them - in order to give them new life - I do so within an ethical construct that honors dignity and respect of a donor and a recipient. Like transplantation, if we can answer the moral and ethical questions about stem cell research I believe we will have the oppurtunity to save many lives and make countless other's lives more fulfilling. That's why we must get our stem cell policy right. Scientifically and ethically."

"As we know, Adult stem cell research is not controversial on ethical grounds, although embryonic stem cell research is. Right now, to derive these stem cells and embryo, or a blastocyst, which man including myself consider nascient human life, must be destroyed. But I also strongly believe as do countless other scientist and clinicians and doctors, that embryonic stem cells uniquely hold specific promise for some therapies and cure that adult stem cells can not provide.

Let me just say that I believe today, as I stated four years ago in 2001 prior the current policy was established, that the federal government should fund embryonic stem cell research. As I stated in 2001, we should fund research only on embryonic stems cells derived from blastocyst which are left over after fertility therapy. Which will not otherwise be implanted or adopted, but instead are destined with 100% certainty by the parents to be discarded and destroyed."

Although it may be difficult to take Dr.-I-can-diagnose-a-blind-near-brain-dead-woman-via-videotape Frist completely seriously. The fact that the GOP's own Senate Majority leader has taken such a position in direct opposition to that of the President -- breaking dramatically from the lock-step mode that Republican's have been held hostage to by the Christian Right for the past 5 years - should prove quite interesting as they are forced to temper their "Democrats support Death" arguments of the past several months.

But Frist is far from the only prominent Republican to take such a position - former UN Ambassador John C. Danforth has made similar claims.

BY a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians. The elements of this transformation have included advocacy of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, opposition to stem cell research involving both frozen embryos and human cells in petri dishes, and the extraordinary effort to keep Terri Schiavo hooked up to a feeding tube.

In my state, Missouri, Republicans in the General Assembly have advanced legislation to criminalize even stem cell research in which the cells are artificially produced in petri dishes and will never be transplanted into the human uterus. They argue that such cells are human life that must be protected, by threat of criminal prosecution, from promising research on diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and juvenile diabetes.

It is not evident to many of us that cells in a petri dish are equivalent to identifiable people suffering from terrible diseases. I am and have always been pro-life. But the only explanation for legislators comparing cells in a petri dish to babies in the womb is the extension of religious doctrine into statutory law.


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