Isn't it nice that we have gifted scientists who want to make miracles happen in their quest to cure diseases like Parkinsons and Alzheimers? Isn't it wonderful that they have been blessed with foresight and optimism? Isn't a miracle that they see hope in stem cell research?
In this country there are thousands of unwanted embryos being stored by fertility clinics which were created in an attempt to give infertile couples children. As often happens with in vitro fertilization several eggs are fertilized. The zygotes are monitored for a period of time and subsquently graded to determine which of them has a better chance of becoming a successful pregnancy.
According to a Wikipedia article on embryo cryopreservation, "If multiple embryos are generated, patients may choose to freeze embryos that are not transferred. Those embryos are placed in liquid nitrogen and can be preserved for a long time. There are currently 500,000 frozen embryos in the United States (See http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2006/07/souls_on_ice.html) The advantage is that patients who fail to conceive may become pregnant using such embryos without having to go through a full IVF cycle. Or, if pregnancy occurred, they could return later for another pregnancy."
While cryopreservation allows for long-time storage of unused zygotes, many will eventually be disposed of. A visit to the National Institutes of Health website, http://stemcells.nih.gov/, reveals a wealth of information about stem cell research and the possible results of it. Clicking on the link "Stem Cells and Diseases" brings up a page that states, "Studying stem cells will help us understand how they transform into the dazzling array of specialized cells that make us what we are. Some of the most serious medical conditions, such as cancer and birth defects, are due to problems that occur somewhere in this process. A better understanding of normal cell development will allow us to understand and perhaps correct the errors that cause these medical conditions.
"Another potential application of stem cells is making cells and tissues for medical therapies. Today, donated organs and tissues are often used to replace those that are diseased or destroyed. Unfortunately, the number of people needing a transplant far exceeds the number of organs available for transplantation. Pluripotent stem cells offer the possibility of a renewable source of replacement cells and tissues to treat a myriad of diseases, conditions, and disabilities including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis."
The promise of this research is vast. Unfortunately, the research is underfunded. And, thanks to "W", the scientists who wish to understand these things will have less opportunity to do so because stem cell research is against his religion, or he's simply pandering to the Religious Right minority on a stupid promise he made in his campaign for re-election. Whatever happened to seperation of church and state? Or better yet, what is worse: saving a life or disposing of two? Not only is he a religious zealot, but he can apparently do basic math as well as he can put together a simple sentence.
The year 2008 cannot come too soon. Hopefully the idiots riding around in their gas-guzzling SUVs with "W" stickers on their back windows will be struck by lightning. Or, perhaps God himself will come down and create Burning Bush, Part 2. One can hope for a miracle.