Opponents of human cloning and federal funding of embryonic-stem-cell research are being fast marginalized by a myth that cloning will be an immediate panacea to the ravages of degenerative disease and disabling injury. The intensity of belief in science as savior, combined with a desperate desire that it be so, has become so fervent that faith in this research has come to resemble a secular religion. And now, supporters of cloning for biomedical research are using the death of Ronald Reagan from complications of Alzheimer's disease as a bellows to blow the political winds in their favor.
Take New York Times political columnist William Safire as just one example. This week, in a column he named " Reagan's Next Victory," Safire urged President Bush to open the federal-funding spigots to embryonic-stem-cell research and, more ominously, to legalize research into human cloning as a medical treatment (while still outlawing the creation of cloned children). In doing so, he summarily dismissed the prospect for cures being derived from adult-stem-cell and related research -- as cloning proponents almost always do -- writing: "Some argue that we should see if adult stem cells may someday do the regenerative trick. But 'someday' doesn't help today's victims."
Safire has it completely backwards. Cloning is in its embryonic stage. Even if it could be used as an efficacious treatment (though that is a gargantuan "if"), its success would be a decade or more away. But adult-stem-cell and related tissue therapies are already treating human maladies. Indeed, ignored by Safire and other advocates, the science is moving forward at an exhilarating pace both here and abroad in animal and human studies.
Read the entire article on the National Review Online website.