Grow some brains! Support therapeutic cloning

Watching George W. sermonize is one thing that sends my spew-meter off the charts. It rates right up there with predatory priests and rich Enron execs. I almost prefer having my teeth drilled than listen to that man.

Recently George W. preached against cloning human embryos. In His Infinite Wisdom he supports a ban on therapeutic cloning even though scientists widely believe that it is our best hope for curing diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimers and a host of other horrible diseases afflicting millions of Americans. The House has already passed a ban on ALL cloning (reproductive and therapeutic). The Senate will soon vote on similar harsh legislation in the form of a bill by Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.

Banning therapeutic cloning is a no-brainer. It is a know-nothing position. A knee-jerk reaction against the scary word cloning. It is not cloning of human beings.

Therapeutic cloning, which would produce stem cells for therapy, is a topic near and dear to my heart. My daughter has juvenile diabetes and my brother has Parkinson's. Quite a lot of suffering and fear and, in the case of Parkinson's, progressive debilitation comes with these diseases. And they require enormous attention and huge numbers of people-hours to manage. Personally, I would like America to jump into stem cell research and find some cures, the sooner the better.

But not our president. Wearing the self-satisfied smirk of a man who doesn't have to stick a needle in his kid four times a day, he preached, "Our children are gifts to be loved and protected, not products to be designed and manufactured." Millions of parents across the land must be shaking their heads, wondering about the "ethics" of keeping potentially life-saving therapies from children.

"The benefits of research cloning are highly speculative," George W. lectured, as if he had been conducting experiments in his free time. His Dr. Science imitation is almost as irksome as his channeling of higher powers. I'm sorry, Dubya, but you are no Carl Sagan, or Moses on the Mount.

Forty Nobel laureates disagreed with the president and wrote a letter supporting therapeutic cloning. They cited the critical role it could play in the "fight against the most debilitating diseases known to man."

Like most Americans, these scientists oppose human reproductive cloning, which is entirely different from cloning an embryo for research and disease therapy. The laureates wrote, "The cloning of a human being should be prohibited. Nuclear transplant technology, on the other hand, is meant to produce stem cells, not babies."

There is an enormous difference between stem cells and babies. Stem cells do not breathe, cry or poop. But they can scoot around regenerating brain cells and insulin-producing islet cells. Science needs embryonic stem cells to do the research to find out how to control stem cells and make them work for us. Just as they needed to experiment with viruses in order to invent vaccines.

In the past America has been proudly on the cutting edge of key medical discoveries. However, our current president in his almighty wisdom would prohibit American scientists and America's vast resources from being part of the most promising medical research of our time. We might as well go back to using leeches and let Switzerland, Israel and Cuba lead the world in modern medicine.

And when other countries find these cures, Sen. Brownback's legislation would prohibit importing them for use in the United States. How crazy is that? If my daughter were to someday travel overseas to get new insulin-producing cells, she could be arrested for importing stem cell technology!

Even Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who opposes abortion, supports cloning human embryos for research. He said, "An important aspect of being pro-life is to support the technologies that help the living."

I never thought I'd live to agree with Orrin Hatch. But I do. And now I want to live long enough to find out if we can have a future without diabetes and those other dreadful diseases, through the knowledge that science has given us of how stem cells can create and save lives. It is our choice. Not King George's.


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