Frist abandons presidential bid

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I couldn't believe my ears when I heard this on the radio. Sen. Bill Frist, once considered a contender for the 2008 presidential nomination, pretty much killed his chances by stating that he believes that parents should have the option of destroying their unborn children if it's for a good cause.

Specifically, Frist now favors federal funding for stem cell research involving the destruction of human embryos. He insists, however that the "parents" should make the choice. Um, if they're parents then doesn't that make what they're destroying a .... y'know?

Joel Helbling has details and analysis worth reading.

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» Stem Cell Research from Don Singleton

the problem is that so many embryos were created without the intention of bringing them to term. What they should do is allow these embryos to be used, but require tighter controls over the future creation of excess embryos in future IVF procedures. Read More

» Frist's flip-flop from Danny Carlton: codenamed "Jack Lewis"

From the Baptist Press... Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist endorsed legislation July 29 to provide federal funds for stem cell... Read More

13 Comments

W. Author Profile Page said:

Do you really think Frist was a serious candidate for president in the first place?

I didn't.

IMHO, he had all the gravitas of the Hamburglar.

WarrenB said:

Frist's political antennae are as sensitive as the Hamburglar's ears, though his actions may be equally clumsy. So he has changed his tune on stem cells.

Remember, earlier than other Repubs, Frist shied away from continuing to press the attack with the Schiavo issue because he sensed it was becoming more a political liability than asset.

It's unlikely his "parent's option" will either make any sense to stem cell supporters, or fail to antagonize the base. Oh well, I didn't want a President Frist anyway.

bitweever said:

Actually, when read about his decision this morning, I assumed it was because he wanted a shot at president. I don't agree with his change of stance, but it seemed that he was attempting to appease the "right-of-center" voters.

Steve Smith said:

I read Frist's statement - Now I am just thinking out loud (which is dangerous, I know), but what about those "extra" fertilized cells that are only slated for destruction (parents have acheived their goal of fertilization and have IVF cells that are "left over" from the process). Is it impossible to imagine a scenario where there are sufficient ethical measures in place to insure against cell harvesting or cells for money? Frist makes the comparison to donating the organs of someone who has died. We generally honor such organ donation. Sometimes when young children die, their parents opt to donate their organs? Here we are struggling with what to do with these leftover cells. Is there not an honorable choice here to make better use of these cells than simply destroying them? Frist repeatedly talks about the need to insure adequate ethical controls. I am trying to be cautious here and simply examine my previous position of a blanket prohibition against the use of embryonic stem cells. If I can't accept this research use of the extra cells, I guess I would also have to oppose any IVF process that results in "leftover" cells. Pondering...

Dan Paden said:

Agreed. Frist hasn't been able to control his senatorial colleagues adequately. He was already out of the running.

Anon said:

Just thinking out loud....but, is 'life' attributed only to homo sapiens (homo saps, as I refer to them)?

Sure, we're smarter (most times) and (actually do) control Earth (from a social basis), but life is life, the way I see it.

Given that, how is us any different than the beef or eggs we eat, or the mice who routinely sacrifice everything for our cosmetic glory?

I think there's a genuine fear there among those who place such a high value on human life, as opposed to any other form of life, that they may someday realize we really are no more 'alive' than other 'living' things. It's all a part of the cosmic fungal muss which grows on this planet.

Whether we have a 'creator' or not doesn't enter the picture. Life is either life, or not. There is simply too much simblance between human and animal birthing to suggest one has been 'granted' and the other not.

We use our means (knowledge, intelligence, skill) to effect perpetuation, just as animals do to the extent of their abilities. And, we use them to further our cause.

That said, there is a huge difference between stem cells from embryos and partial-birth abortion.

The same discussion applies to assisted suicide and various other social issues.

What we wish is to be civil, to enjoy our lives and answer that never-ending call for knowledge.

Simply put, I don't see the argument against this.

Dan Paden said:

Actually, whether we have a creator or not does make a difference, since that creator has both the right and the means to designate the roles and uses of each element of His creation. In this case, the God revealed in the Bible has made a clear differentiation between mankind and the rest of the creation, even down to explicitly stating, post-flood, that we are free to eat animals. Good thing, too--I just love tasty animals.

theotherguy said:

This "discarded leftover" argument is so lame. Think how much progress could have been made if Mengele could have continued his experiments on those that afterall were going to be "discarded" anyway. We might have had the first heart transplant years before. How about spending the money to get these children adopted. That would be saving lives, not condeming them to death in the lab.

WarrenB said:

Theo,

Only about 65-70% of embryos survive thaw, not even considering the loss rate during the implantation process.

If you consider these 2, 4 or 8 cell embryos to be equivalent to human beings, then you must condemn the practice of freezing embryos (a standard in vitro fertilization technique) in its entirety.

theotherguy said:

Warren,

Exactly! What other medical procedure would be approved that only has a 65-70% survival rate. But then children have a history of being disposable.

WarrenB said:

I'm sure most couples who do 'in vitro' fertilization are aware that the loss of some embryos is expected. Would you then label them murderers, or at least guilty of negligent homicide?

Steve Smith said:

I'm not hearing near enough clarity on this important issue. Here is my summary -
1 There is substantial disagreement on whether there is truly any advantage yet known to be derived from embryonic stem cell research. There is a great deal of hope and hype, but IF there were stronger results to date, private funding would be readily available and this current call for federal funding would be moot.
2 But even if there was indisputable research showing the promise of ESCR, we must ask if it is an ethically or morally valid path to follow? This boils down to what you consider the 2, 4 6 or more celled IVF cell. Human, pre-human, what?
3 And then, if we consider it morally reprehensible to purposefully discard or destroy any IVF cells, then we need to be much louder in our condemnation of ALL such processes, which to the best of my understanding, will almost always result in extra cells, slated only for destruction. Who is willing to condemn parents approaching IVF as their last hope of conceiving a child?
4 Call me radical, but I just think we need clear definitions, clear and full understanding and consistent application in order to assess this issue (or other issues for that matter)truthfully. Invoking Mengele or avoiding direct answers to some obvious questions won't get us there.

theotherguy said:

Steve,

Thank you for the call for clarity.

My original point is, Frist's arguments justifying the using of frozen embryos leftover from IVF are incompatable with a "pro-life" position. Either he believes life begins at conception and should be protected or not.

Obviously he is just being a politician. Give me Doc Coburn anytime.

As for the Mengele analogy, its use is to point out that to justify using embryos that are to be "destroyed" anyway is no different than to justify Mengele's experiments
(which no one would) on concentration camp victims, since they also would be destroyed anyway.

Perhaps that is an extreme analogy, but I think it fits.

The question is why is there such a push for embryonic stem cell research and almost a complete ignoring of adult stem cell research which has actually produced cures? It seems to be a pre-emptive strike against the overturning of Roe vs Wade. If most the folks are sold on embryonic stem cell research, the pro-abortion crowd will argue that any pro-life legislation will threaten that research. Which give me more reason to be annoyed with Frist's comments.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 29, 2005 11:32 AM.

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