Saturday, June 03, 2006

CGS: Democrats Over The Top on Stem Cell Research

Democrats should beware of the seductive lure of stem cell research. So says Richard Hayes, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society in Oakland, Ca.

Hayes, who describes himself as a lifelong liberal Democrat, says he is worried about the feverish efforts by Democrats to seize stem cell research as a potent vote-getting wedge issue. Why?

Writing on Tompaine.com, Hayes says,
"I’m worried because in their over-the-top enthusiasm for stem cell and cloning research, Democrats are ignoring the many ways in which it could, if irresponsibly promoted and inadequately regulated, have consequences at odds with core Democratic values. The short-term political advantage that fervent support for stem cell research now gives Democrats could backfire when the problematic aspects of this research come to light."
Hayes says "there is no question that stem cell research should go forward."

But he says some avid supporters ignore important issues, including the question of affordability.
"If stem cell-based therapies are ever successfully developed, how affordable will these be? After passage of California's $3 billion stem cell initiative last November, its leaders acknowledged that the 'individualized' stem cell therapies highlighted throughout the campaign could cost in the neighborhood of $100,000 per patient. Who would be able to afford such treatments? Individualized medicine for the wealthy is the antithesis of the affordable, comprehensive health care that Democrats have historically and correctly made a top domestic policy goal."
Hayes also says,
"Americans want stem cell research to succeed. Democrats are in a position to take the lead on this research, but with leadership comes responsibility. We need policies that allow stem cell research to proceed at a robust but reasonable pace, while imposing tough regulations to ensure that the fruits of this research are affordable by all, that they do not endanger the well-being of women who provide eggs for research, and that they are not used for socially and ethically unacceptable purposes."
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