Monday, July 25, 2005

Biology, science--along with some political wrangling

Currently there are many restrictions on federal funding for stem cell research because the fundie-wingnuts pulling all the strings of this current presidential administration and neocon-Republican dominated Congress are afraid that it will lead to mass government funding of "snowflakes" or "microscopic Americans" being 'slaughtered' needlessly in petri dishes, all in the name of "hedonist, lefty, godless" science. Only already existing embryos can be "harvested" for stem cells, but new ones can't be created and used for the same purpose, though scientists have said that the "reserves" for the already existing embryos are running low--if memory serves correctly. Though it has been theorized by many doctors and scientists that perhaps stem cell research could lead to locating the causes for diseases, viruses, disabilities, and even the creation of treatments to combat these illnesses and health complications, our government--rather than let educated physicians and scientists figure it out and get back to us on their findings--would allow wingnut ideology to impede medical science. Seems almost nostalgic of the Roman Catholic Church censoring astronomers, biologists, and other scientists who discovered things contrary to the Church's dogma. Anyway, last Friday, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) has hinted that he may push the addition of an attached bill that would expand federal funding for stem cell research.

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) indicated yesterday that he may attach a bill to expand federal funding for stem cell research as an amendment to the Labor-Health and Human Services 2006 appropriations bill. “I don’t like to put it on the appropriations bill, but we waited long enough,” said Specter, one of the primary sponsors of the bill, according to the Washington Post. The appropriations bill will be debated and voted on after the August recess. “I’ll bring [the stem cell research bill] us as the first amendment out of the box,” Specter said, according to Reuters.

The bill, which has already passed in the House, had been tentatively scheduled to receive a full Senate vote in the month of July. However, the bill has been stalled because of Republican attempts to introduce alternative stem cell research bills that would, among other things, only allow the harvest of stem cells without destroying embryos, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I think there has been an effort to obfuscate the House-passed bill with a collection of other bills,” Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), another primary sponsor of the bill, told Reuters.[...]
And I cannot wait to see the Republicans attempt to cut-up and re-write Senator Spector's proposed bill. Any guesses as to which Senator will reference "little Americans being killed in science labs?" But in other news in the realm of biological-polity, the women of Massachusetts may soon have access to emergency contraception at their local pharmacy without prescription and hospital if all goes well.

This week, the Massachusetts House and Senate both overwhelmingly approved legislation to make emergency contraception available from pharmacists without prescriptions and to require hospitals to offer it to rape victims. Following a final procedural vote in the Senate, expected next week, the bill will move to the desk of Governor Mitt Romney (R).

Although Romney indicated support for emergency contraception during his 2002 campaign, he has not taken a position on this legislation, prompting speculation that he is attempting to move right on choice issues in advance of a possible presidential campaign, reports the Associated Press. Nonetheless, the bill seems likely to become law for Massachusetts. Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey (R) has expressed her support for the bill, and should it come up for approval during the Governor’s vacation would be able and willing to sign it into law, according to the MetroWest Daily News. Furthermore, the final version passed with the support of more than two-thirds of legislators, enough to override Romney’s possible veto.[...]
Well good. I think there is significant population of women in Massachusetts who do not enjoy having their reproductive rights toyed with by opportunistic politicians, who would turn anti-choice at the drop of hat in order to appease anti-choice organizations so as to receive more financial campaign contributions from them. Of course I'm "prejudging" and cynically speculating as to what Governor Romney will do with this bill. But with all the cop-out, quasi-pro-choice politicians we have how could I not be? **cough**Democrats!**cough** But, good for the Senate and House of Massachusetts for passing this bill, because such a proposal as this wouldn't even make it out of the mouth of a lawmaker here in Hoosier Land. Sigh... Thank goodness I have close relatives over there in Mass'--even an 'in-law' who works at a CVS and dispenses E.C. without giving it a second thought. She's your everyday pro-choice, liberal Catholic.