SharksWithLasers -- Seth Cooper

A CUTTING-EDGE BLOG FOR THE WORLD OF THE 21st CENTURY, Currently operated by Seth L. Cooper, a 27 year-old attorney in Seattle (sethlcooper at comcast dot net)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

FRIST STICKS A FORK IN HIMSELF. With his newfound suport of government funding of human embryo destruction for embryonic stem cell research, Senate Majority Leader, Dr. Bill Frist has all but assured he will NOT become the next President of the United States. Sen. Frist is done. However, he still has a chance to save some face. Sen. Frist can ensure that federal funds will be allowed to go towards such research on ON THE CONDITION that there is a TOTAL BAN on human cloning—specifically, somatic cell nuclear transfer. Though taxpayer dollars would still be flung into the ethically dubious black hole of embryonic stem cell research, the consolation would be a prohibition on the most problematic practice of all: the deliberate destruction of human life for the sole purpose of scientific experimentation.

The best article I’ve seen on this whole matter so far is by Bill Kristol and Eric Cohen, in Weekly Standard. Titled “Frist’s Stem Cell Capitulation,” the article offers a candid assessment of the lay of the land on issues related to human cloning:

…for all the complaints of scientists that the American government is standing in the way of their pioneering efforts, the striking fact about the present situation is that there are virtually no legal prohibitions on many radical areas of biotechnology. There are no limits on human cloning, no limits on fetal farming, no limits on the creation of man-animal hybrids, and no limits on the creation of human embryos solely for research and destruction. It is in this rather permissive moral and legal climate that Frist seeks to remove one of the few public boundaries that still exist.

Kristol and Cohen offer a blistering but entirely on-target critique of Sen. Frist’s recent decision. There are many paragraphs worth quoting, including the following one that shows the problems of Sen. Frist’s approach to these matters:

...Frist did also call for banning the creation of embryos solely for research and for banning human cloning. This makes him more responsible than most embryo research advocates. But he did not make his support for funding research using the "spares" contingent on setting such limits. So the effect of Frist's remarks was to strengthen the hand of those no-limits senators who wish to advance the very kinds of research that Frist still says he believes should be out of bounds (at least for now).

On my lunch break, I’m going to write up a couple letters and fax them to my Senators and U.S. Representative—as well as Sen. Frist. Little good it might do, as I expect nothing more than the form e-mail response in a couple of weeks. But they need to know there are countless other things that would be better served by federal funding.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

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