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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Smilin' Norm: Does he have a position on ESCR?

Posted by: Hammer / 7:24 AM

Does anyone know what Smilin' Norm actually believes about embryonic stem cell research? Not known for having principled positions on anything, Smilin' Norm has managed to utterly befuddle me with his stem cell flim-flammery. Here's the latest:

Sen. Norm Coleman said Wednesday he will vote against a bill that would expand funding for embryonic stem cell research, and instead back a bill encouraging stem cell research that does not involve the destruction of embryos.

..."I don't support federal funding for the destruction of human embryos," said Coleman, a Minnesota Republican who opposes legalized abortion, explaining his opposition to the embryonic stem cell research.

Coleman said he believed the other bill, sponsored by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., held promise by directing the National Institutes of Health to finance work to develop stem cell lines, such as adult stem cells, using techniques that do not destroy embryos.

...Last summer, Coleman announced he would be introducing legislation to make stem cell lines taken from embryos up to that point available for federal funding. In effect, his legislation would have moved Bush's Aug. 9, 2001 deadline to the day the bill was enacted.

..."Are we going to be creating opportunities to donate embryos for research so that we have an industry then that's focused around producing embryos for research?" he asked.

Kudos to Fred Frommer for contextualizing Coleman's position. Last summer, Coleman wanted to allow federal funding for additional stem cell lines -- lines created between August, 2001 and 2005. This summer, Coleman opposes federal funding that would create new stem cell lines if the process would destroy the embryo.

Coleman's final comment has a nugget of truth. As it stands now, embryonic stem cells are harvested from embryos created -- but never used -- for implanting with the intent to create children. These embryos are destroyed when no longer needed. Should the creators of those embryos have an opportunity to donate the unused embryos for research? Or would that encourage people to create embryos specifically for research purposes?


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