Dogmas do not disappear; they just give way to new ones. The dogma that will now apparently drive federal policy is the idea that if science can do something, than it should do it. But science is merely a tool, not an ethical system. To say that science itself should determine its own purposes is like saying that a hammer can pound anything it wants, independent of the carpenter’s wishes.
Before the Obama Administration plunges fully into mad science, it might consider a warning from Dr. Bernadine Healy, M.D., former director of the National Institutes of Health. In a March 4 column for U.S. News & World Report, Dr. Healy said this:
“Even for strong backers of embryonic stem cell research, the decision is no longer as self-evident as it was … In fact, during the first six weeks of Obama's term, several events reinforced the notion that embryonic stem cells, once thought to hold the cure for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and diabetes, are obsolete. The most sobering: a report from Israel published in PLoS Medicine in late February that shows embryonic stem cells injected into patients can cause disabling if not deadly tumors. .. [this case] is neither an anomaly nor a surprise, but one feared by many scientists.”
If the Obama Administration cannot be convinced that it is simply wrong to kill human embryos, perhaps some sobering examples that the resulting techniques may be harmful might persuade them to put on the brakes.
But they would have to shed the rose-colored glasses of embryonic stem cell dogma and take a fresh look at the evidence.