Tuesday, August 05, 2008

US still stuck on stem cells research

Here is an interview with Democratic Congresswoman, Diana DeGette, whose recent legislation supporting embryonic stem cells research was vetoed by Bush. I find this amusing as Malaysia, Turkey, Egypt, and even Iran have all given a go ahead to stem cells research. And as I recall, religion plays a pretty serious role in the politics of these countries. So why this stuck-up attitude on this issue in the US? The public opinion is indeed changing, and it is only a matter of time that it gets an official go ahead - but still this opposition is so idiotic. Diana DeGette has a new book out, Sex, Science and Stem Cells: Inside the Right Wing Assault on Reason and here are some snippets from her interview:

You make the case that the Bush administration has essentially gone against the will of the people with regard to stem cells.
I think President Bush was frankly unconcerned about what the public will was. He had a personal religious view and he felt strongly about that. So, he just stubbornly blazed ahead.

Something else that I talk about in the book—and I'm still shaking my head [about this]—is President Bush absolutely refused to meet with me and [Delaware Rep.] Mike Castle, my Republican sponsor, for the entire duration of the debate. I find that to be unbelievably inconsiderate, but also incurious on the president's part. Sometimes members of Congress will do a showy "Meet with me. Oh, he won't meet with me!" kind of a thing for window dressing. In this case, we really wanted the president to meet with us. We wanted to be able to look him in the eye and explain what our bill did. To this day, I am not sure he exactly understands what the bill did. But, he didn't care.

Are right wing legislators acting as agents for the religious right or are they acting of their own will?
I think some of the leaders behind these antiscience arguments really do believe these things. I think the vast majority are really making a political calculation, and I think the political calculation they're making is: "I don't want to anger the religious right, so I'll just go along with this because I think my constituents think this anyway."

I say on page 21 of the introduction: "What in god's name are these people doing? Why does the religious right try to limit scientific advances when they relate to human reproduction? I've come to believe that the most extreme (and, frequently, the most influential) right wing advocates seek a country that comports with their view of the Bible. If it was up to them, they would not only outlaw abortion altogether, but all forms of birth control except the rhythm method and abstinence."

I can't think of any other explanation why they would so thoroughly politicize every aspect of sex and reproduction. I think they want to have a society where it's really God's will whatever happens. That's all well and good within their own families; they can structure their family that way. But, when you're talking about public policy, it's a very big waste of money and it's very dangerous to public health. Teen pregnancy went up last year for the first time in many, many years.

Read the interview here.


Anonymous said...

I have serious problems with this interview. DeGette is dishonest in the way she describes the sides in the issue, and SciAm was shamefully complicit. Here is the problem:

DeGette invented "the antiscience conspiracy" in order to further her political agenda. It does not exist. And SciAm perpetuated this misstatement.

Powered by Blogger.