New Technique For Stem Cell Research Spares Embryo But Religious Right Not Satisfied

Nature has published a study showing that even a single cell taken from a human embryo can be made to grow into a colony of stem cells. (Reports here, here, here, and here.) As the embryo is not destroyed, it was hoped that this would satisfy George Bush’s objections and therefore lead to an end to the federal ban on funding of most stem cell research. Of course the requirement that the embryo not be destroyed during stem cell research is rather absurd considering that unused embryos are routinely destroyed by fertility clinics.

The response from the White House didn’t sound hopeful, with Bush sounding even more restrictive in the type of research he would consider allowing. “Any use of human embryos for research purposes raises serious ethical concerns . . . The President is hopeful that with time scientists can find ways of deriving cells like those now derived from human embryos but without the need for using embryos.”

Religious opponents of stem cell research also might not be satisfied. Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said this technique “raises more ethical questions than it answers.”

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