Pro-Life Advocates Say New Embryonic Stem Cell Research Method Ethical

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 20, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Advocates Say New Embryonic Stem Cell Research Method Ethical Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 20,

Washington, DC ( — Pro-life groups are responding to today’s news that two teams of scientists have been able to create embryonic stem cells without destroying human life. The destruction of days-old unborn children has been the chief obstacle preventing pro-life advocates from supporting the controversial research.

However, as reported Tuesday, scientists in Japan and Wisconsin say they have been able to get adult human skin cells to revert to their embryonic state.

Pro-life advocates initially appear to support the new process and say it could be an alternative way to use embryonic stem cells in research that could bridge the stem cell research divide.

Richard Doerflinger, a spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and one of the leading bioethics watchdogs for the pro-life community, appeared supportive.

He told the Associated Press the new work is "a very significant breakthrough in finding morally unproblematic alternatives to cloning."

"I think this is something that would be readily acceptable [to pro-life people]," he added. "It’s a win for science and for ethics."

"I think this is a wonderful advance for basic research in stem cells and maybe some day for regenerative medicine," Doerflinger added in a Reuters interview.

Dorinda Bordlee, an attorney with the Bioethics Defense Fund, which helped lead the legal battle against the pro-cloning Amendment 2 in Missouri, told she was also excited about the news.

"This remarkable scientific advance has the potential to bring all sides of the human cloning debate together in a common quest for aggressive yet ethical stem cell research," Bordlee said.

Bordlee noted that the scientist who originally cloned Dolly, Professor Ian Wilmut, has already announced that he was abandoning his license to clone human embryos in favor of the direct reprogramming method.

The National Catholic Bioethics Center also chimed in on the new research, telling in a statement that it "affects the ethical discussion around stem cells in a very positive way."

"Such strategies should continue to be pursued and strongly promoted, as they should help to steer the entire field of stem cell research in a more explicitly ethical direction by circumventing the moral quagmire associated with destroying human embryos," the group said.