As the parent of a child with type 1 diabetes, the daughter of a man who died of complications of type 2 diabetes, and the granddaughter of a woman who died of Alzheimer’s disease, I was thrilled to see President Obama follow through on his promise to lift restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.
The restrictions on this research placed by the previous administration were meant to pacify religious special interests. Today’s action was meant to help save lives.
Here’s what happened over the last 8 years of the ban:
- Other countries continued to progress their own stem cell research, making this yet another area where US efforts were left behind.
- California voters passed their own initiative to fund stem cell research, creating the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).
- Millions of people continued to suffer and die from diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, spinal cord injuries, etc.–diseases that might be helped by the outcome of stem cell research. There are over 24 million people in the US suffering from diabetes alone and tens of millions more at risk for the disease.
Will this technology cure these horrible diseases? No one knows for sure. But we do know that there is incredible potential that cannot be found elsewhere. As a society, we have a responsibility to use the tools and technologies we have available to help improve living conditions for those amongst us who suffer from these diseases or injuries. We have a responsibility to allow scientific research to move forward unfettered. We have a responsibility to save lives.
The Talmud says, “He who saves one life is as if he has saved an entire world.” As of today, we’re back on track to save millions of worlds.