Getting Emotional Over Stem Cells (UPDATED After Claims of an HIV Cure)

Getting Emotional Over Stem Cells (UPDATED After Claims of an HIV Cure)

Editor's Update: Researchers report an HIV-positive man known as "the Berlin Patient" is believed to be cured of his HIV infection due to a stem-cell transplant he received in 2007. Though the patient's circumstances are unusual, this claim of a medical breakthrough got us thinking a lot about Erin's very heartfelt take on stem cell research from last year. What's your take on the news and the research? Has it changed since last year?

I wasn't expecting to get emotional over stem cells. I've heard the arguments, I've seen the promise, I've listened to the pundits drone on and on. I never really thought of it until I began reading and researching in order to write this post.

FARMINGTON, CT - AUGUST 27: Kristin Martins-Taylor holds up a container with stem cells at the University of Connecticuts (UConn) Stem Cell Institute at the UConn Health Center on August 27, 2010 in Farmington, Connecticut. UConn scientists and students have been recipients of federal grants for work using human embryonic stem cells and could be significantly affected by a federal court ruling that would limit funding for embryonic stem cell research. On August 23, U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth issued a preliminary injunction in Washington, D.C., halting all federal funding for basic research into embryonic stem cell technology. Stem cell research is believed to offer great hope in finding treatments to many diseases and illnesses including heart attacks, strokes and spinal cord injuries. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

First, came the announcement from the White House:

"From tiny embryonic cells to the large-scale physics of global warming, President Barack Obama urged researchers on Monday to follow science and not ideology as he abolished contentious Bush-era restraints on stem-cell research. 'Our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values,' Obama declared as he signed documents changing U.S. science policy and removing what some researchers have said were shackles on their work."-yahoo news.

I have to admit this brought a smile to my face. President Obama went on to address the "controversy" surrounding stem cells head on saying the order was designed so it "never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction." Such cloning, he said, "is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society or any society."

I realize this is a touchy subject with a segment of the population. I can't pretend to understand the objections, because I very truly do not. Even Time acknowledges the "fake" controversy.

Feministe sums up my thoughts pretty well:

"Obama also said that he hopes Congress will continue to support stem-cell research legislatively. All of this is incredibly excellent news, and I cannot possibly express how very happy I am about the development. It looks like we may in fact be moving towards a real 'culture of life,'which values the lives of actual people. Go President Obama!"

Of course that "culture of life" reference is not a mistake. The controversy surrounding stem cells is directly related to the potential for human life and the anti-choice movement. Me? I am reminded of Galileo and others, and the notion that religion can repress discovery.

I am also offended that stem cells destined for destruction anyway are being protected by people OVER the protection of those I know and love.

Because I learned a lot reading the many, many articles about stem cells -- almost more than I bargained for. You see, my father has a low-grade form of leukemia. Did you know they are using stem cell research to attempt to advance treatment and find a potential cure for leukemia?

Did you also know stem cell research may one day help someone right here at BlogHer?

BlogHer Contributing Editor, Nordette writes,

"At some time in the future, I will need kidney and stem cell research offers hope beyond hoping I find a matching donor and get approved for transplant...I remember while I was going through domestic violence counseling, the counselor and I discussed my being ill, needing a kidney for reasons the doctor's don't understand, and I told her that I was realistic about the news I'd received at age 43, that by age 53 I'd need a kidney. I said that I'd accepted that it was unlikely I'd get one because most people don't, and so, I wanted to live my life like I'd never be approved as a recipient.

She looked me in the eye and said, 'I don't want to hear you talk like that. Medical science is making progress in all areas and for all you know by the time you need a kidney they'll be growing them in a lab.'

Her words comforted me six years ago, and sometimes I try to look at life that way: What if I make it? What if I have another 40 years ahead of me and not another 5-10?"

And here's where I cry and get angry. Why Why Why would anyone deny this chance to my father, to my friend Nordette, to the many millions of people suffering from various things? All for a clump of cells destined for destruction? They value the clump of cells more than my father? MY OWN FATHER./p>

Which is why, when my tears dry, I'm glad we have BlogHer Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan to break a complicated issue down with FACTS and a great video:

Of course, speaking out on stem cells will get you mocked by some on the Right. Some who may or may not be the leading voice of the Right... but, I digress.

I hope President Obama's actions turn into solutions and science will lead the way in helping not just my father, not just Nordette, but all those in need of help.

The President's words ring true and it really is about time we "make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology."

BlogHer is non-partisan, but our bloggers aren't! Read more News & Politics. Director of Social Media Strategy and Contributing Editor Erin Kotecki Vest also blogs at Queen of Spain blog.

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