Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Missouri stem cell wars

Many of the Sunday morning news shows on Oct. 29 talked about the stem cell initiative in Missouri. Although you won't find it by searching Google, IPBiz has discussed the matter (for example, here.

Much discussion concerned an ad by Michael J. Fox. According to the AP, the ad was on behalf of Senate candidate Claire McCaskill: Amendment 2 would provide constitutional protections for embryonic stem cell research in Missouri. The 30-second spot featuring Fox, 45, who sways uncontrollably in the ad due to his Parkinson's disease, is actually a commercial for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill.

The AP story also noted: "That ad claims opponents want to criminalize research and prevent the expansion of stem cell research. Those claims are just false and misleading," Ruse said. "Our gripe with Amendment 2 is it creates a right to do human cloning and it creates the right to human egg trafficking for cloning research."

Of some historic relevance is the paper "The Scope of Public Discourse Surrounding Proposition 71: Looking Beyond the Moral Status of the Embryo," by Lysaght, Ankeny, and Kerridge. Arguments about Prop 71 were divided into political, ethical, and epistemological.

Under ethical, the paper noted

arguments focussed on potential medical and therapeutic utility (Prop 71 proponents)
arguments focussed on welfare of human embryos, comodification of research subjects, the exploitation of women (Prop 71 opponents)

The snippets above about the Missouri saga suggest that this was the level of the pro-/anti- "Michael J. Fox" discussion.

One notes that the Lysaght paper stated: "None of these ethical issues were covered in any great detail in the mass media..."

The paper also stated: "The scientific and research communities tended to be more hesitant in arguing for the clinical benefits of stem cell research..."

The paper did not note that the proponents for Proposition 71 enjoyed a tremendous advantage in funding over those opposing Proposition 71. The paper did not note that both the Sacramento Bee and the San Diego Union-Tribune opposed Proposition 71.


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