Back in 2006, Rush Limbaugh responded to an ad that actor Michael J. Fox had made, in which he endorsed Missouri Senate candidate Claire McCaskill over her support for embryonic stem cell research, by accusing him of "exaggerating the effects of [Parkinson's] disease." Limbaugh also claimed "either he didn't take his medication or he's acting," mimicked Fox's tremors, and falsely accused the actor of doing ads only for Democrats. Limbaugh later apologized -- then suggested Fox had deliberately taken too much medication to induce the tremors displayed in the ad.
Limbaugh waded back into that controversy again on his May 24 radio show -- this time by getting Fox's latest remarks wrong and minimizing his own role in attacking Fox in 2006.
Limbaugh cited an article at the anti-abortion website LifeNews to claim that Fox, in Limbaugh's words, "is admitting that stem cells -- nothing to him. Right here, I have it, LifeNews.com, Michael J. Fox admits embryonic stem cells likely will not cure him." Limbaugh insisted that this proves his earlier claim that embryonic stem cell research "was not even about curing Parkinson's or Alzheimers" but "a way to promote abortion."
In fact, not only did Fox not specifically reference embryonic stem cell research in his recent comments -- adult stem cells are a different avenue of research -- but he didn't say that there was "nothing" to it. Fox said that stem cell research is "part of a broad portfolio of things that we look at," other avenues of research have become "as much or more promising," and that he's "glad" to have promoted stem cell research in the face of those who tried to shut it down for "ideological reasons."
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From Charles Krauthammer's March 13 Washington Post column, titled "Obama's 'Science' Fiction":
I am not religious. I do not believe that personhood is conferred upon conception. But I also do not believe that a human embryo is the moral equivalent of a hangnail and deserves no more respect than an appendix. Moreover, given the protean power of embryonic manipulation, the temptation it presents to science and the well-recorded human propensity for evil even in the pursuit of good, lines must be drawn. I suggested the bright line prohibiting the deliberate creation of human embryos solely for the instrumental purpose of research -- a clear violation of the categorical imperative not to make a human life (even if only a potential human life) a means rather than an end.
On this, Obama has nothing to say. He leaves it entirely to the scientists. This is more than moral abdication. It is acquiescence to the mystique of "science" and its inherent moral benevolence. How anyone as sophisticated as Obama can believe this within living memory of Mengele and Tuskegee and the fake (and coercive) South Korean stem cell research is hard to fathom.
From Cal Thomas' March 13 Washington Times column, titled "Journey to Destruction":
What will constrain science? The president says it will be up to the National Institutes of Health to come up with "guidelines" for the use of embryonic stem cells. He specifically came out against creating embryos for the purpose of human cloning. But the question is this, if there are to be no moral, ethical or religious restraints on the initial experiments, why should anyone expect them to be invoked later? One can only be a virgin once. After a moral or ethical line has been erased, it is nearly impossible to redraw it.
At the extreme, unrestrained science has the capacity to produce a Josef Mengele. The Third Reich "scientist" and doctor was given the green light to do whatever he wished with Jews, twins, the physically deformed, the mentally challenged - all in the name of "science" and progress. We are repulsed by the horrors he created in his "scientific" laboratory, to which many of the German people turned a blind eye, mostly because they had been conditioned to do so by nonstop propaganda, which convinced them that some lives were less valuable than others.
We have been warned by history, in novels like Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" and on TV news, of what can happen when government operates outside a moral code established to protect us from its penchant to be excessive. Unfortunately, government in recent years has sometimes engaged in a type of moral freelancing, embracing a mushy morality in order to serve purposes that are sometimes immoral.
Removing restraints on stem cell research is another step on a journey leading us to a distant somewhere. Does anyone know the destination? Do enough people care that it might just be leading us not only to the destruction of more pre-born human life, but also ultimately to our own end?
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The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post all reported Sen. John McCain's assertion at a forum hosted by Pastor Rick Warren that he believes "a baby [is] entitled to human rights" "[a]t the moment of conception." But none of the articles raised the question of how McCain reconciles this statement with his support for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research and certain exceptions to a ban on abortion.
On Meet the Press, Mitt Romney claimed Hillary Clinton "put politics ahead of people" because "she was one of 28 [senators] to vote against alternative methods" of stem cell research. In fact, while Clinton voted against legislation that would have provided funding for alternative research measures, but restricted embryonic stem cell research, she voted for a bill that contained provisions providing for research relating to "alternative method technologies" and also expanded funding for embryonic stem cell research. Romney also touted a recent "breakthrough" on "alternative methods of creating stem cells without having to create new embryos" while failing to note that the senior American scientist involved in the "breakthrough" has emphasized the need to continue embryonic stem cell research. Meet the Press host Tim Russert did not challenge Romney on his claims.
On Fox News' The Journal Editorial Report, Wall Street Journal deputy editorial page editor Daniel Henninger discussed the announcement that American and Japanese research teams discovered, in the words of the senior American scientist, a "new way to trick skin cells into acting like embryos" by "reprogram[ming] skin cells into multipurpose stem cells without harming embryos." Henninger said: "Basically, the controversy is over. And I think, in retrospect, we should say something on behalf of, say, [President] George Bush, who vetoed that stem-cell bill." However, the senior American scientist wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that the new developments "[f]ar from vindicat[e]" the Bush administration's policy "of withholding federal funds from many of those working to develop potentially lifesaving embryonic stem cells."
The Politico's Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei wrote that unnamed "Bush advisers are considering ways to call attention to scientists' announcement, which the White House believes was lost in Thanksgiving week, about discoveries that could lead to the creation of stem cells without embryos -- a vindication, in the view of Bush's aides, of his reservations about approving broader federal funding of embryonic stem cell research." But Allen and VandeHei did not note that the senior author of the paper that announced that discovery, James Thomson, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that the research "[f]ar from vindicat[es] the current U.S. policy of withholding federal funds."
On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume and Bill Kristol asserted that the recent announcement that scientists have reprogrammed adult stem cells to apparently behave like embryonic stem cells would end the debate over embryonic stem cell research. But none of the panelists mentioned that several scientists, including one of the lead researchers, have said that the reprogramming does not end the need for embryonic stem-cell research.