Aug 25, 2010

Stem cells ban debate

Just to clarify what I understood from the ruling (Civ. No. 1:09-cv-1575 (RCL) and not from information in the media that rely on emotions and obscured values.

Plaintiffs J. Sherley et al. (which include embryos), asked for a preliminary injunction (ban) of the 2009 NIH guidelines for Human Stem Cell Research. These guidelines allowed NIH funding for research using human embryonic stem cells (ESC). The guidelines separate ESC research from the derivation of ESC; they allow federal funding for the former and restrict it for the latter only to embryos from in vitro fertilization that were no longer needed.

The plaintiffs argued that these guidelines violate the 1996 Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which prohibited the use of federal funds for the creation of a human embryo for research purposes and research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed. The defendants argued that the language of the Dickey-Wicker Amendment was ambiguous and the guidelines cleared the issues. They also argued that research with ESC doesn't destroy embryos.

The court ruled that the language of the Amendment is not ambiguous, it clearly communicates the broad prohibition on ESC research. And that to conduct ESC research, ESCs must be derived from an embryo. Deriving ESCs from an embryo results in the destruction of the embryo. Thus, ESC research necessarily depends upon the
destruction of a human embryo. And therefore the guidelines violate the amendment.

All this seems logic and reasonable to me. What I don't understand, is that the court also accepted the plaintiffs argument that federal funding for ESC research injures the plaintiffs competitor standing, because they do research with adult stem cells (ASC). In other words, if ESC research is allowed they would have to compete not only with ASC researchers but also with the ESC ones. So what? Competition is considered to be the main driver of innovation and progress in a capitalist society. Why then removing competitors by a court decision is ok?.

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