Several months ago I received a call from the Willie L. Brown Jr. Institute on Politics and Public Service. The staff member was making an inquiry call as they were considering hosting a stem cell symposium and wanted to know if I would be willing to speak at their event. After a moment of wondering why Willie Brown had gotten involved in the great stem cell debate post Mayor of San Francisco days, I said I would be delighted to participate. Since that phone call, the world of bioethics has moved center stage. President and Mrs. Bush have gone on record with their position on stem cell research as well as Presidential candidate John Kerry. Proposition 71, the Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative is coming on the November ballot asking California voters to rack up $6 billion in debt for embryo cloning research. And the CBC national office phone is ringing off the hook. The New Yorker has called, journalists with San Francisco Magazine, the SF Chronicle and National Public Radio have done interviews. Speaking invitations have come in for audiences at UCSD, Stanford, the Commonwealth Club and now the Willie L. Brown Jr. Institute. And local grassroots groups have called with invitations as they put together local gatherings to discuss stem cell research in general and proposition 71 specifically. I’ll be in Orange County next week and in Los Altos at the Main Street Cafe in October!
But the Willie Brown Symposium on October 12th is different. His lineup is impressive and boasts, The Honorable George P. Shultz. Mr. Ron Reagan Jr. and Lawrence Goldstein Ph.D. to name a few. His Stem Cell Symposium boasts National Media Coverage. His event is by invitation only and will reach an audience of some 400 plus leaders in many fields. These kinds of invitations position the CBC again to take the leading edge and bring our voice to this great debate! I talked recently with Paul Elias of the Associated Press. He, and other journalists repeatedly ask me if I am discouraged because the pro-cloning side has more money (they have EBay and Bill Gates, we don’t!). They have more Nobel Laureates (we don’t even have one Hollywood celebrity). My response is, yes, they have more money and celebrities, but their way isn’t what is best for science and medicine. Their approach brings possible treatment to those who are sick but at the horrible expense of others. Their way allows science and medicine to go untethered from the ethical boundaries that are necessary for protection of the dignity of every human being.
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