Thursday, December 28, 2006

While we were sleeping

Last weekend, the weekend before Christmas when nobody's paying attention to the news, the Harpercons appointed a new panel to oversee assisted human reproduction (fertility) clinics and stem-cell research. While oversight is a good thing, it also depends who's doing it: in this case, several of the appointees are social conservatives who are on the record as being against embryonic stem-cell research (for the same asinine reasons they're against abortion).

"The board's eight members include those who have in the past spoken out against abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and the way in which stem-cell scientists operate.

The board does not, however, appear to include any stem-cell scientists or fertility experts."

So what are these people doing on this panel? What can they possibly add?

"They could steer this all in a very conservative way, and maybe that's what the federal government wants," said Michael Rudnicki, scientific director of Canada's Stem Cell Network. "We will have to see whether the function of this board will be politicized and whether there is an agenda."

This is not an insignificant side issue. While it's unlikely that this panel could stop stem-cell research, they could certainly slow it down. And just the fact that someone has spoken out against abortion or stem-cell research should instantly disqualify them from any position involving reproductive or stem-cell research issues. The thought of having someone who worked for the Catholic church for 25 years (panel appointee Suzanne Scorsone) anywhere near any kind of reproductive issue is terrifying, because this is how it starts. It starts when they worm their way into lateral areas like fertility clinics. It ends with abortion being outlawed.

And this was done with a minority government. Just imagine. Election day can't come soon enough.