The Last Word on Obama Stem's Cell EO: '9 Things the Media Messed Up'

Embryos0309.jpgJosh Brahm of Right to Life of Central California has done the definitive dissection of the comprehensive media failure in reporting on President Obama's recent Executive Order (EO) allowing federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

Brahm's "9 Things the Media Messed Up About the Obama Stem Cell Story" (HT to an e-mail from is an exceptional magnum opus that must be read in its entirety to be fully appreciated. It identifies each of the nine errors, links to well over 40 specific instances of media bias and/or ignorance, and tell us why those errors are significant. I thought I was reasonably knowledgeable in this subject area until I read Brahm's work.

(CNS News has reported that the EO will apparently not going into effect until October 1 or later, because the supplemental appropriations bill he just signed [but apparently didn't read] "explicilty bans federal funding of any 'research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death.'" That fact doesn't change the correctness of Brahm's "9 Things.")

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Here are the nine items (absolutely no substitute for reading the whole thing), accompanied by brief quotes from Brahm's article:

#1. Omitting the importance of iPS cells (induced Pluripotent Stem Cells). "These are adult skin cells that scientists may soon be able to reprogram into embryonic-like stem cells, without killing a single human embryo!"

#2. Omitting that the diseases everyone is talking about curing (diabetes, Parkinson's, paralysis) have already been treated with adult stem cells. "Perhaps if more Americans understood that this can be accomplished without killing human embryos, maybe this “complicated moral decision” would suddenly not be so tough."

#3. Perpetuating the myth that stem cell research will likely cure Alzheimer's disease. "This doesn't mean Alzheimer's disease won't ever be cured. It just means that the cure will probably not come from stem cell research, of any kind. It will probably be a separate area of scientific research."

#4. Omitting the dangers of HESCR (Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research). "(It is significant) because we just might kill some adult human beings by starting human clinical trials prematurely." That has happened already overseas.

#5. Confusing or combining reproductive cloning with research cloning. This one was new to me, and is a very important distinction, requiring this excerpt:

There are two different types of cloning: reproductive cloning, and research cloning. The term "reproductive cloning" has been used to describe when a human clone is implanted and delivered as a full term pregnancy. "Research," "experimental" or "therapeutic cloning" have been the terms used for the other type of cloning. In this, a human embryo is cloned and experimented upon in his or her first few weeks of life and then killed.

Opinion polls show that the vast majority of Americans disapprove of both types of cloning. (83% against reproductive cloning, versus 81% against research cloning.) (3)

In another poll asking Americans to rate the morality of 16 social issues, 86% said human cloning was morally wrong. In fact, the only social issues ranked lower than human cloning were extramarital affairs and polygamy! (4)

Many media outlets noted that President Obama supposedly condemned cloning, saying “And we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society.”

Read that again. Did President Obama condemn all human cloning, or did he only condemn reproductive cloning?

Amazing! We just figured out what practically every other media outlet missed.

By the way, the only reason the list of media outlets that missed this is shorter than the first three on this list is because most of them didn’t mention cloning in their article. Fox News is the only media outlet who mentioned Obama’s remarks on cloning and then explained the difference between reproductive and research cloning.

#6. Creating a false choice that “leftover” embryos will either be used for research or be killed. "Those are not the only choices. Human embryos that are no longer wanted by the family can also be placed for adoption. Organizations like Snowflakes have been helping couples through embryo adoption for years now."

#7. Dehumanizing human embryos. "It’s much easier to pacify our feelings toward human destruction if the people in question are dehumanized. Who would care about a simple 'ball of cells?' But embryologists know that there is so much more going on here than a simple clumps of cells."

#8. Responding to a Strawman argument that pro-lifers are concerned about embryos being misused in laboratories (other than killing them). "Pro-lifers are not concerned about embryos being misused in a laboratory. We are concerned about embryos being killed in a laboratory. The protocols being followed end with the embryo being killed."

#9. Bush’s policy restricted tax dollars being used on “all” stem cell research. "President Bush’s stem cell policy did not restrict tax dollars for stem cell research. It restricted tax dollars to be used to kill more human embryos. It allowed tax dollars to be spent on research using the embryonic stem cell lines that had already been created, as well as funding research with adult stem cells. On the contrary, President Obama is the one restricting tax dollars for stem cell research. In fact the only type of stem cell research President Obama seems interested in funding is the very type that has consistently failed to produce any positive results."

Brahm's "9 Things" ought to be required reading for those who are in the trenches defending life, but more importantly, for those who haven't been paying enough attention to this crucial issue.

Cross-posted at

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