August 24, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

Looking for Ethical Alternatives to Embryonic Stem Cells

Pro-life advocates perked up their ears at the announcement of a new method that can produce stem cells without destroying embryos.  National Geographic News and MSNBC News talked about the method, which uses skin cells and “reprograms” them to act like embryonic stem cells.  Religion Journal thinks the ethical debate over stem cells may be over.

This story illustrates the need for conservatives who respect the sanctity of life to keep boundaries around maverick scientists motivated by dollars more than ethics.  Researchers would not be looking for alternatives to grinding up human embryos if it weren’t that there were enough people outraged at the ethical malfeasance of killing one life to save others.  The selfish motives of the stem-cell pushers became evident when some reporters showed them worrying that this discovery might reduce funding for embryonic stem cell research.
    It’s too early to tell whether this or other alternative methods for breeding the totipotent cells will make embryonic stem cell research obsolete and eliminate the ethical concerns; even if it does, there are many more moral issues besides this in the era of synthetic biology.  Keep informed, and keep the heat on.

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