When I was a child, conservatives were the group most likely to be supporters of science, but by the 2000s it looked more like liberals were. This may be because in America, conservative and liberal have little meaning the way they used to, and instead voters fall into two camps: If less abortion is your hot button issue, you vote with Republicans. If keeping it available on demand is important, you vote with Democrats.
What about babies that parents clearly want, but might be beset with any number of debilitating diseases? Here the line gets a little muddier, because of that two-party thing. Somehow Republicans often look like they don't want to support science related to an embryo, even if it will not be a baby, and if it will be a baby, they are really against it. Yet science is the one thing that would lead to fewer abortions, as in cases of medical conditions, and healthier American babies being born. A few years ago, a "conservative" who writes at National Review went after me for scolding him when he claimed replacing the mitochondria in a mother's egg - which in the future will prevent up to 200 diseases currently linked to mitochondrial functioning - was basically creating an abomination of nature.
Rational conservatives surely must be more nuanced, I thought. Well, I am right. Writing at National Review, Dr. Henry Miller, a physician and molecular biologist who is currently the Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, lays out the case for why modification of embryos is not only a good thing, but essential if we care about healthy babies.
The technology is CRISPR/Cas-9 and it is revolutionary. Not only can it knock-out (make inoperative) specific genes, it can knock-in genes as well. it was discovered in bacteria, where the CRISPR-Cas9 system works similar to how the immune system works in humans. It can be revolutionary for for germ-line gene therapy and solving lots of diseases.
So it seems strange to have conservatives lamenting science and invoking the precautionary principle and the slippery slope about saving babies, especially when it is the exact same thing they criticize liberals for when it comes to breakthroughs in natural gas fracturing, nuclear power and other things.
Dr. Miller shows there is hope, and makes solid points. This kind of basic research cuts across the political spectrum. Keep publishing astute pro-science pieces like this, National Review, and you may gain a whole lot of new subscribers in the pro-science community.