As science moves on, the knuckle-draggers will have to come up with a new objection:
Scientists have for the first time grown colonies of prized human embryonic stem cells using a technique that does not require the destruction of embryos, an advance that could significantly reshape the ethical and political debates that have long entangled the research.
The new work, described in today’s issue of the journal Nature, shows that even a single cell plucked from an early human embryo can be coaxed to divide repeatedly in a laboratory dish and grow into a colony of stem cells, coveted for their potential to mend failing organs.
It is already common for fertility doctors to remove a single cell from a days-old embryo before transferring that embryo into a woman’s womb — part of a test to screen out embryos bearing genetic defects. Although the safety of the cell-removal process is still under study, there is no evidence that the procedure puts embryos at significant risk or that babies born from such “biopsied” embryos are abnormal in any way.
If scientists were to grow stem cell colonies from some of the single cells already being removed for genetic testing, scientists said, they could vastly increase the number of colonies for research without putting any embryos at added risk. Until now, researchers have isolated stem cells only from older embryos, which are inevitably destroyed in the process.
While I fully support the idea of an expedient dodge so that science can continue onward, I doubt this will have any real impact on the ‘concerns’ of our self-annointed ethical and moral stewards. In fact, this new method may be more dangerous, because it treats the concerns of the loudmouths as if they were serious, and worthy of a compromise. Let’s review.
Embryonic stem cell research is not murder. Embryonic stem cell research is not on the same moral plane as abortion. Embryonic stem cells are not people. And pretending they are, and w0rking to find a ‘compromise’ will, in my opinion, simply validate the complaints lodged by the loudest and shrillest of the morality police.
Remember who we are dealing with- these are the same folks who think that gays are the root of all evil, and that a couple sessions in church can make you ‘ungay.’ These are the same folks who really do think or pretend to think that Terri Schiavo was just a few prayers away from playing volleyball before she was ‘murdered by the courts.’ These are the same people who think that the world was created in six days a few thousand years ago. These are the same people who think that NASA should be run by teenage religionists or that decisions about the morning after-pill are little more than political decisions to appease a segment of the base.
Do we really want to concede one inch to these folks, to give their fantasies and fears one shred of legitimacy? I sure don’t. I understand why the researchers may be doing this- so they can get the loudmouths to shut up, and then let the scientists get back to doing what they do best. But this isn’t about actual science to the critics- it is about political manipulation and the application of brute political force. And I doubt it will even appease the hardliners- witness Mona Charen:
Cautiously optimistic on this stem cell news. If news reports turn out to be correct, the procedure they’re describing takes one cell from an embryo (a biopsy if you will) and then coaxes that cell into making stem cells. The embryo from which the cell was extracted continues to develop normally.
Fertility clinics already do this to test for inherited disorders.
Again, if this procedure is really what it seems to be, then it passes a key moral test – it does not destroy life.
We’ll have to wait and see whether it actually does no harm to the developing embryo.
We- you, me, science, and the rest of the world, have to wait until Mona Charen, from her seat at the National Review, decides if this ‘destroys life.’ You can’t make this shit up.
And even if they decide this doesn’t destroy life, they will come up with something else, probably with scary words delivered with furrowed brows and all sorts of shows of concerns- “This may be close to cloning, which creates a whole new ethical dilemma.” I can already hear it.
I used to think the appropriate course of action was to listen to their concerns. No longer. This is not about science, ethics, or concerns for human life for these people. It is about their political relevance. And if you ask me, they should have none. As far as I am concerned, they should be ignored, and if we can’t find a way to do that, we can point at them and laugh at them if they still find it necessary to demand our attention and waste our time.
*** Update ***
And yet again, the Carpetbagger and I see eye to eye.