Scott Klusendorf and Wesley Smith have discussed the recent editorial by the NY Times on two new possible methods of obtaining embryonic stem cells.
My take on the editorial was slightly different in that I didn't think the editorial writers were saying that embryonic stem cell research is "proven" even though I can see how people would take it that way especially with the snide remark of "foolish" and the complete downplaying of ethical concerns because they are held by a "minority."
I thought by "proven" the editorial was talking about how removing a bunch of pluripotent cells from living human embryos (which kills the human embryo) was a "proven" technique for acquiring human embryonic stem cells compared to the new methods which haven't proven to be reliable methods of obtaining human embryonic stem cells. That fits with the Times' basic message of "We don't care if human embryos die, so who cares if people have ethical concerns. Why waste time working to find more ethical routes to research when we have no ethical qualms with killing embryos in the first place."
What I found truly odd about the editorial is the Times' discussion of the problems with removing a single cell from a human embryo without harming the human embryo and then growing an embryonic stem cell line from that cell while the embryo continues to live. Ethical concerns suddenly become an issue.
Although some 2,000 babies have been born after a cell was extracted for genetic diagnosis, there is little data on the safety of the procedure or the long-term health of the children. Some ethicists deem it unethical to impose even a small risk on the embryo by extracting a cell just to create stem cells.
It is true that some ethicists deem it unethical to impose a risk on the embryo but wouldn't it be even more unethical to intentionally kill that human embryo to get stem cells? If the possibility of unintentionally harming a human embryo is an ethical concern, then shouldn't doing something that will intentionally kill a human embryo be a much greater ethical concern?
Moreover, the technique has limited scientific value because it cannot produce a stem cell with the exact genetic makeup of a particular individual.
Ditto for any kind of embryonic stem cell research where the stem cells don't come from a human clone. Every stem cell harvested from a human embryo that was formerly stored at a fertility clinic will not match the exact genetic makeup of any patient but that hasn't stopped the NY Times from supporting the legality and federal funding of research with "limited scientific value."