Antiabortion Oopsies in Texas
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Jun 03, 2006 at 11:25:52 PM EST
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Sometimes when ideology overwhelms reality, you get oopsies.

That seems to be what happened recently in Texas when antiabortion zealots led by the Texas Alliance for Life managed to kill an effort to fund a $41 million research center the University of Texas as part of a bill to raise nearly $2 billion in bonds for the state's universities. Turns out the provision they killed would have funded something they say they are for.  

The Texas Observer reports:

In the final days of the Legislature's just completed special session, Joe Pojman, the executive director of Texas Alliance for Life... told his legions that scientists might conduct embryonic stem cell research at the Houston facility. Not surprisingly, the prospect of state funding for such research-in which stem cells are taken from discarded embryos-didn't sit well with the anti-abortion crowd. Pojman's group made so much noise about the addition of the bioresearch center that the University of Texas System officials withdrew their request for the facility. They were forced to remove it for fear that the revenue bond bill wouldn't pass, jeopardizing higher education projects for every university system in the state.

One problem: Pojman and his activist friends seem to have misunderstood the work that would be done at the proposed bioresearch center. A university spokesman said the facility planned research not on the controversial embryonic stem cells, but rather on adult stem cells-research that doesn't rely on embryos and that the religious right generally supports. "As I stated from the very beginning of the project concept, only human adult stem cell research-not embryonic stem cells-was planned to be conducted in the biomedical research and education facility at UTHSC," Anthony P. de Bruyn, assistant to the vice chancellor for external relations and assistant director for public affairs for the university system, wrote in an e-mail to the Observer.
But a pledge from UT didn't deter the Texas Alliance for Life and its assault on the proposed bioresearch center. And it certainly wasn't going to dissuade Pojman from taking some credit for killing the idea. In a May 12 e-mail after UT had withdrawn the proposal, Pojman wrote to his supporters, "After state representatives received a large number of pro-life calls from constituents, an unprecedented pro-life victory occurred yesterday in the Texas House." Maybe a hollow victory.


On its web site, the Alliance states:  

The pro-life movement strongly supports stem cell research, so long as that research involves only adult stem cells and not human embryonic stem cells.

Nevertheless the Alliance continued to fib and crow about their hollow victory:

Huge victory in Texas Legislature!

Pro-lifers scored a major victory in the Texas Legislature during the recent special session ending May 15 by preventing state tax dollars from being used for research that involves the destruction of human embryos - embryonic stem cell research and cloning.

H.B. 153 was a massive bill that creates more than 60 new buildings on public universities. The initial version authorized and funded a $41,000,000 biomedical research facility in Houston, where research on human embryonic stem cells and cloning was planned.

The win - the first ever on this critical issue EVER in Texas - was sealed on the last day of the session, when the House voted (143 to 3) to concur with the Senate's pro-life amendments to H.B. 153....  Without the support of the leadership in the Capitol - (l. to r.) Governor Rick Perry, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, and House Speaker Tom Craddick - this victory would not have been possible.

So if I understand this correctly.... they were opposed to what they were for, because they didn't know they were for it! And the governor, lt. governor and the speaker of the house helped them oppose what they were actually for. And now they have an e-mail campaign to thank these farsighted statesmen for their leadership.

(Hat tip to Lynn for the link.)

This piece is both timely and excellent. After my coffee kicked in my original bemusement morphed into anger. In their zeal to stop embryonic stem cell research theses idiots only succeeded in delaying adult stem cell research. Since all forms of stem cell  research is at such an early stage, everything needs to be explored. Furthermore, just about any adult stem cell researcher worth his salt will tell you that embryonic stem cell research is necessary for comparative analysis.

This is very promising research, embryonic as well as adult stem cell science. But to hold up the attainment of possible cures and treatments for political purposes is simply unforgivable. It is yet another reason why mainstream Americans must stand up to the fringe element which is the Religious Right.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 06:49:43 PM EST

Yes, big Oopies indeed--or rather, in deed, thought, and word.

The previous commenter is right to be angry--pre- or post-coffee. These Texans' ridiculous and dangerous actions indirectly harm us all. Their actions reveal their true colors: not "pro-life" but simply anti-science, moralistic, and proud.

Didn't St. Paul warn Timothy about busy-bodies? That's what I'm put in mind of by the tale of these Texas-sized oopies: people too terribly busy with their own control-obsessed agenda to worry about things like feeding the hungry, helping the homeless, nurturing a spirit of humility, practicing mercy, fostering charity, and doing all those other liberal things Jesus Christ seemed rather keen on.

by IseFire on Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 12:22:23 AM EST

This ought to be a bigger issue. But then again, there seem to be a lot of Texas sized issues in Texas.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 12:52:41 AM EST bigger here in Texas. Including the problems. And the efforts it will take to fix them.
- -
Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Those who study history are doomed to know it's repeating.

by Alice Venturi on Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 06:50:47 PM EST

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