Monday, January 7, 2008

Toledo Blade editorial and Jack Lessenberry get stem cell facts wrong

On December 30, 2007, the Toledo Blade published a poorly researched editorial on stem cell research which made a large number of claims which were factually incorrect. The editorial was based largely on a previous editorial written by Jack Lessenberry. The following letter to the editor was submitted in response to the Blade editorial.
The Blade's December 30th editorial on stem cell research, which strongly mirrored a former editorial by Jack Lessenberry, made a number of false claims.

First, the editorial claims Michigan has a "stem-cell ban." This is a ridiculous claim as the University of Michigan has a Center for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research and received a large federal grant to perform embryonic stem cell research in 2003. Michigan's laws ban the killing of human embryos for research and human cloning. Researchers can and do import embryonic stem cells from other states and perform research on them in Michigan.

Second, Rep. Paul Condino isn't the primary sponsor of the legislation attempting to overturn Michigan's laws. Rep. Mark Meadows is the primary sponsor of HB 4617 and HB 4618, while Rep. Andy Meisner is the primary sponsor of HB 4616. Rep. Paul Condino isn't listed as even a co-sponsor on any of these bills.

The editorial also falsely claims Right to Life of Michigan "has convinced people that aborted fetuses would be used for such research." This statement doesn't have an ounce of truth to it. Right to Life of Michigan's website has loads of information on embryonic stem cell research and none of it claims embryonic stem cells come from aborted children. Right to Life of Michigan has also created a web site focused on stem cell research at Nowhere on this site will you see the claim that embryonic stem cells come from aborted fetuses.

The editorial also claims Californians voted to "tax themselves" $10 billion for embryonic stem cell research. Proposition 71, which was passed by California voters in 2004 allows $3 billion to be spent on embryonic stem cell research over 10 years and will likely cost taxpayers somewhere around $6 billion.