By Don C. Reed
As a long-time supporter of stem cell research, I was worried when social conservative Mike Johnson (R-LA) was chosen as the new Speaker of the House.
He has a persuasive voice like the radio performer he once was, and a gentle smile: in short, he is a good salesman for his positions.
Unfortunately, he has already used his not-inconsiderable powers to co-author a bill which would be devastating to stem cell research and therapy.
Johnson is co-author of H.R. 431, the Life at Conception Act. This establishes conception — the joining of sperm and egg — as a life to be protected. (1)
This would almost certainly criminalize embryonic stem cell research and therapy.
Consider the procedure. When a childless couple uses the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedure, perhaps 15–20 blastocysts (sperm-egg combinations) are made. Of these, the strongest 2–3 are implanted in the womb. The others are donated, sold, frozen and stored or discarded. Only when the decision to discard is made, can these “thro-aways”’ — microscopic dots of tissue — be considered for research or therapy. (2)
If Johnson’s bill becomes law, not only would the use of blastocysts become illegal, but so might the IVF procedure itself, which has assisted in more than two million births world-wide (3).
Similar stem cells have been made (manipulated from human skin), so do we still need the original? Of course! (4) With so many diseases and disabilities, we can ill afford to overlook any possibilities of research, therapy, or cure.
Johnson has a nice smile and a soft voice. But that is not enough.
There is an old saying: God made the crocodile ugly, because if it was beautiful, children might want to play with it.
The peaceful-appearing Johnson may be just the opposite.
Like a smiling crocodile.