Algore wants to leave baby stem cells alone

When a pro-choice politician with scientific credibility among his tribe suddenly finds solidarity with the enemy camp, different ears perk up. It’s as if Newt Gingrich suddenly endorsed increasing capital-gains taxes. Or if Sarah Palin issued a moratorium on wolf hunting.

When the “pro-choice politician with scientific credibility among his tribe” is Al Gore, the man who would be Chad, it’s even more scratch inducing.

The issue at stake is embryonic stem cell research, and Algore has agreed to join a $20 million venture to research adult stem cells.

“I just think it’s a very important breakthrough that is filled with promise and hope,” said Gore, a partner in the venture-capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which is backing the research.

Awhile back, I touched on embryonic stem cell research when President Obama lifted the ban on funding for new lines. My basic premise, specifically applied, was that if embryonic stem cell research were such a viable option, then the private sector would be all over it. My contention then (and now) is that embryonic stem cell is less about scientific medical research, and more about influencing the way society at large views the embryo. If it is alright to slaughter an embryo in a dish for scientific research, then why isn’t it OK to kill an embryo in utero? If it’s a lump of tissue in a dish (which it isn’t) then it’s a lump of tissue in utero. Embryonic Stem Cell research is a politically expedient way to shape the terms of life favorably, with the hope of long term impact in the pro-abortion debate.

But I digress from the point… the market will seek out profit, especially in medicine with large profit potential, and if embryonic stem cell research has potential for success, private capital will find its way. As the author of the article points out:

“Obviously, Gore isn’t intending to lose money on this proposition. He clearly sees the enormous potential, not just for healing and research, but for the financial gains that could result when the right thing collides with the true thing… Their research will focus on cures for Parkinson’s spinal muscular atrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease). In Gore’s words: “The trans-Pacific collaboration is likely to dramatically accelerate the drug-discovery process.”

An ardent pro-abortion advocate with significant political clout has thrown his scientific weight and his dollar bills into the adult stem-cell camp. A few more quotes in the article about adult & embryonic stem cells…

Dr. Ian Wilmut who cloned Dolly the sheep abandoned his license to attempt human cloning, saying that the researchers “…may have achieved what no politician could: an end to the embryonic stem-cell debate.”

Dr. Bernadine Healy, director of the National Institutes of Health under the first President Bush, wrote in U.S. News & World Report that these recent developments “reinforced the notion that embryonic stem cells… are obsolete.”

Perhaps embryonic stem cell research isn’t as much a scientific issue as it is a political issue. Perhaps the debate is less about finding cures for adults, and more about framing the conversation about abortion more favorably. Whatever the case, they say that even blind hogs find acorns every now and then.

crossposted at realityunwound