We noted over a week ago the good news that recent developments in stem cell research have made the use of human embryos as a source of stem cells unnecessary. The LA Times has a story on this by Richard Hayes, the executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society in Oakland. In the course of the story Hayes makes a rather stunning admission:
But the great unreported story of the cloning debate is that research using cloning also has been viewed skeptically by many scientists and public interest advocates who identify as liberals, progressives and supporters of women's health and reproductive rights.
Many have noted the immense technical hurdles that would have to be overcome before cloning could ever be used therapeutically. Others are concerned about access and affordability, given that cloning-based stem cell therapies would likely cost upward of $100,000 a treatment. Still others recognize that the development of cloning techniques for research would open the door to human reproductive cloning and an array of high-tech eugenic and "designer baby" applications. And many women's health leaders are concerned about the risks posed by the fact that millions of women's eggs, which are the raw materials of cloning, would be needed each year if the promised era of personalized medicine through cloning were ever to materialize.
As soon as religious conservatives called for embryo cloning to be banned, however, liberal leaders reacted by uncritically embracing it. From that point on, it was an uphill struggle for liberals who otherwise supported stem cell research to raise questions about cloning without being portrayed as dupes or fellow travelers of the Bush administration.
In other words, at least some of the apparent support for cloning human embryos was based on nothing more than a desire not be associated with Christians or George Bush. Apparently some liberals would rather keep their concerns to themselves rather than be found on the same side of an issue as George Bush or religious conservatives. It gives us a warm feeling to think that so many of our nation's citizens are so highly principled.
I wonder how many scientists are also skeptical of Darwinism but dread being associated with creationists, or skeptical of some aspect of the current global warming enthusiasms, but quaver at the thought of being on the same side of the issue as the Bush administration.
It's all reminiscent of high school social dynamics. These people would rather be popular and politically correct than do the right thing.