The Obama Campaign is running ads in Michigan about John McCain being against stem cell research. These are directly from the Obama campaign, because they have Barack saying, “I am Barack Obama, and I approved this message.”
The ad says – without any conditions or modifiers, I might add – that McCain and Palin are against stem cell research. Remember that.
The fact is: it’s an outright lie.
First, let’s start by clearing one thing up right away: there are two types of research that use stem cells. The first is called Adult Stem Cell Research, the other is Embryonic Stem Cell Research. The first takes stem cells from a living, adult host, and uses these cells to craft some sort of cure. The other uses stem cells from a human fetus, usually a female’s egg that has only recently been fertilized.
Why the difference between the two? Well, adult stem cells are pretty much fully formed, and have to be farmed from the organ or tissue targeted for therapy. Embryonic stem cells are, almost literally, blank slates. They are “generic” cells that can be formed into just about everything (I mean, that’s how we go from an egg to a full human form). There are lots of pros and cons to each, but the outcome (to date) of each line of research is pretty clear. Adult stem cells have produced literally dozens of cures, and embryonic stem cells have produced nothing. The reason is because the embryonic cells are blank slates. You’ve got to manipulate them heavily in order to form them into the kind of tissue you’re looking for. This also means that, without proper manipulation, they are very susceptible to transforming into cancers and tumors. Furthermore, like donated organs in transplants, tissue farmed from embryos is still susceptible to rejection (unless the donor and the recipient of the cells are a very close genetic match). So, until they figure out how to fix that problem, there are still huge hurdles that embryonic stem cell research has to overcome.
You don’t have any of the aforementioned problems with adult stem cells.
There’s also an ethical issue regarding embryonic stem cells – they have to be harvested from embryos. Right now, that means using discarded fertilized eggs from fertility treatments, or (worst case) using aborted fetuses. Now, for this post, the ethics issue is a bit of a non-starter, as we’ll see. But, nevertheless, it exists, and is the main point of all the stem cell controversy.
There is no controversy concerning the use of adult stem cells.
So, some of you might see where I’m going with all of this. You may be assuming that the point I’m about to make is that McCain is all for adult stem cell research, opposes embryonic stem cell research, and the Obama campaign is trying to obscure the issue by lumping both embryonic and adult stem cell research together.
That would be a good guess, but…um…nope!
Consider the following article from the American Spectator concerning McCain’s Stem Cell research policy:
In contrast, McCain answered without missing a beat. He said, “At the moment of conception. I have a 25-year pro-life record in the Congress, in the Senate. I will be a pro-life president and this presidency will have pro-life policies.”
This is the same language used by John McCain 2008 strategists to target the largest bloc of religious voters — Catholics. Since Catholics amount to about 25 percent of the registered voting population, McCain’s campaign established the National Catholics for McCain Committee, co-chaired by Senator Sam Brownback and former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating.
However, many Catholics are upset by McCain’s pro-life claims because he is no better than Obama on embryonic stem cell research. McCain voted for it both times bills were passed by Congress. The only reason that our federal tax dollars do not currently fund ESCR is because President George W. Bush vetoed those bills.
Obama told Warren that the ESCR legislation vetoed by President Bush was supposed to mandate that “you could only use embryos that were about to be discarded” from IVF labs and “I think that is a legitimate moral approach to take.”
Now if McCain believes that human rights begin at conception, killing embryos for their stem cells should be out of the question, right? So how does he rationalize that?
ONE McCAIN ADVISER told me that, like Obama, McCain and some of his campaign managers think that human embryonic stem cell research is acceptable because the “extra embryos” created in labs “shouldn’t be wasted.”
Here you have a well-known, well-respected conservative publication (as recent as August of 2008) criticizing McCain for his support for embryonic stem cell research.
Furthermore, FactCheck.org confirms that John McCain has supported embryonic stem cell research. What he opposes is embryo “farming” – basically creating an embryo for the specific purpose of obtaining its stem cells.
Putting aside whether McCain is right or wrong on this issue, the fact remains that he has shown NO opposition to either adult or embryonic stem cell research. His only objection is the potential “farming” of fetal tissue for such purposes. And with recent developments, it looks as if that may even be a non-issue over the next couple of years.
All this boils down to one thing: the Obama campaign is lying through their teeth. Outright lying.
(This is the part where I make some smarta** comment about the press not reporting on any of this because they’re in the tank for Obama.)