A federal judge's ruling this week blocking the federal government from funding embryonic stem cell research has ignited the usual flames of outrage among the political and scientific left.
"Criminal," said Robert Lanza chief scientific officer of Advanced Cell Technology, which has a financial stake in continued funding. "We are talking about people going blind, people who area dying from a terrifying array of diseases."
Let's be courteous and call Lanza's claim a bit of hyperbole.
Stem cells made from human embryos have not, to my knowledge, restored sight to a single blind person, or prevented or cured anyone from dying from a terrifying array of diseases. It's all promise. Unlike treatments using adult or cord blood stem cells, techniques that have accomplished seemingly miraculous things.
Because the judge's ruling has cut off a lucrative source of taxpayers' money to finance a utopian vision of an embryonic stem cell nirvana, we'll be hearing more of Lanza-style hyperbole. But the judge, Royce C. Lamberth, of the District of Columbia federal bench, deserves no such condemnations. He was simply following the law, he said, noting that the "unambiguous intent" of Congress was to prohibit the expenditure of federal funds on "research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed."
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