Wednesday, February 01, 2006

President's ban would hamper valuable research

Last night was the State of the Union speech. All the major networks were covering it. I watched other stuff, including Invader Zim, instead. Oh, and I was plotting the downfall of a neighbour in a play-by-e-mail game of Diplomacy.

This morning I see that he's reached out to conservatives by, once again, calling for laws that would curtail genetic research. Some of his other science and technology initiatives are positive, like spending more money on alternative fuel sources. Of course the spending amount he's asking for is puny. Considering the profit made by oil companies, it's too bad he cut corporate taxes earlier in his administration, isn't it... Anyway, here's what he said about genetic research:
A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research -- human cloning in all its forms -- creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos.

Human life is a gift from our creator -- and that gift should never be discarded, devalued, or put up for sale.
Gosh, that sounds pretty reasonable, doesn't it? No "playing god". No "human-animal hybrids". Where's the harm in that?

Well, according to the Pharyngula blog (a science blog over at ScienceBlogs) it would make illegal research that is currently being done on Down syndrome. That blog puts it in more detail, but what it comes down to is this: scientists have been able to implant a human chromosome 21 into mice embryos, who in turn develop many of the same characteristics of Down syndrome. This gives scientists an animal test subject for which they can try to repair or prevent the genetic abnormality.

This line of research, one of the most promising for people suffering from this abnormality, would be made illegal of President Bush had his way.

It's obvious that Bush is pandering to the religious right with scary scenarios of human-animal hybrids, ala The Island of Dr. Moreau. In trying to wrest political capital, he will — if he gets his way — condemn countless people (all of them as yet unborn) to what will ultimately be needless suffering.

This is an issue near to me, as my family (on my Dad's side) suffers from Huntington's Disease.

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