Stem-cell research breakthroughs: How soon will it take before the secular left shifts their “pro-science” arguments?

Joseph Bottum writes a must-read piece today for the Wall Street Journal in which he discusses the breakthroughs we’ve seen recently on the non-embryonic stem cell research front, and how that could re-shape the secular left’s views on the importance of science in finding cures for diseases. In essence, he predicts, since we’re seeing so many positive results from scientists without having to use embryos, that the left’s arguments will shift to one of a more cautious nature on what scientists say about stem cell research.

Which reminds me: I got a big kick out of reading some of the comments from liberals in my prior thread on stem cell research. This one, by ST reader ibfamous, is a prime example of the sentiment I’ve seen expressed by the left not only here on the topic of non-embryonic stem cell breakthroughs, but at other blogs as well:

Jay K is right, no one on the left is distraught by scientific advancements that can lead to a higher quality of life (remember how you love to tell us that science is our god). This is even a wonderful thing for those who don’t believe in the science but who use it daily without ever noticing (best not look at those prescriptions too closely, it might interfere with your reality)…

It’s funny on several levels: First it wrongly assumes that conservatives are against scientific research for cures, which is just flat out silly. The truth is that conservatives have never been “anti-science” – they’re simply anti-embryonic stem cell research. That’s a big difference – but don’t expect the left to acknowledge that. It’s much easier to demagogue hell out of important moral issues for political gain rather than to directly address the fundamentals of the issue in question.

Secondly, I find it quite odd that the left, as exemplified by ibfamous’ comment, tries to claim everytime a non-embryonic stem cell breakthrough is announced that they’ve “never” been against those types of scientific research, because they “support cures.” This is something that the casual observer likely misses in the translation, because the left routinely frames the embryonic stem cell research issue in an “us versus them” light, with them being the only ones who “support cures” for the sick whereas conservatives “do not” – even though liberals know that conservatives support other types of stem cell research – like on bone marrow, peripheral blood, and umbilical cord research, for example. Not only that, but the left would give the casual observer the impression that the only way we are going to cure diseases is via embryonic stem cell research, which is why we must increase funding for it “NOW!!!” The sense of urgency the left always gives the issue leaves the average Joe with the impression that if he doesn’t support embryonic stem cell research, then people with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s will never be cured.

To be sure, I don’t think the left hates the fact that non-embryonic stem cell research breakthroughs are happening, but I do believe they’re not happy about the fact that it lessens the urgency they’ve put on trying to advance embryonic stem cell research, because at some point it could very well likely become one less issue the left can demagogue the right about. This is why they are wary of stories that are reported about scientific breakthroughs that don’t involve embroyos, and quick to downplay their significance.

Also, from ibfamous:

The alchemist is also correct; you don’t drop one avenue just because you have another promising path. In science any path can dead-end without notice.

This is naive. If we were talking about finding different ways to fuel an automobile, it’d be one thing, but we’re not. In the case of embryonic stem-cell research, we are talking about the very integrity of human life in its earliest stages. There are ways to completely avoid compromising that integrity, ways that are coming to light more and more each day. Simply put: It shouldn’t take destroying a human life in order to save another. And we’re finding out, thank goodness, that that’s not necessary – as the left has tried to assert for years it is – after all.

Hat tip: ST reader Sev

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