Francis Collins is appalled by the new decision of a federal judge to enforce a moratorium on federally-funded research using stem cells derived from human embryos. In the interim, the NIH has to stop considering and supporting such research. The Scientist reports:
“Frankly, I was stunned, as was virtually everyone here at NIH, by the judicial decision yesterday,” he said. “This decision has the potential to do serious damage to one of the most promising areas of biomedical research, and just at the time when we were really gaining momentum. . . “If this decision stands,” Collins said, “very promising research on human diseases on which we need new insights and new options will not get done. Screening for new drugs using hESCs, a very promising way to discover new compounds, will stop. Researchers, who have been so energized by the opportunities made available over the last year, will likely grow discouraged, maybe move on to other countries or other fields of research. We will lose the momentum.”
He continued: “This is one of the most exciting areas of the broad array of engines of discovery that NIH supports. This decision has just poured sand into that engine of discovery.”
Well, it’s good of Collins to defend a line of research that, by using excess frozen embryos that would be discarded anyway, has enormous potential to alleviate the suffering of live, unfrozen people. I applaud him for standing up for research versus superstition. But he surely must realize that the strongest opposition to that research comes from his own confrères: conservative Christians wielding the very same “moral law” that they all see as given by God. I’d like to hear why Collins considers his understanding of The Divine Moral Law better than that other people.