An end to the stem cell debate?

Scientists have discovered a way to make human skin cells perform the medical marvels once thought possible only with embryonic stem cells, said Yuval Levin in National Review Online, and that could "really mean the end" of the stem-cell debate.

What happened

Scientists have developed a way to use human skin cells to create other types of tissue that are exact genetic matches of the donor, according to studies published Wednesday in the prestigious journals Cell and Science. The process could bypass the need to destroy embryos to get embryonic stem cells to perform the feat, which could remove an obstacle to stem cell research in the U.S. (The Hartford Courant)

What the commentators said

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“This could really mean the end” for the stem-cell debate, said Yuval Levin in National Review Online’s The Corner blog. And if this process—somatic cell reprogramming—really does remove the ethical hurdles without sacrificing any of the promise of stem cells, it will be “the best possible end” to the problem.

Republicans would be “stupid” not to “embrace” the new technique, said Steven Edwards in a Wired blog. If they don’t, they’ll be “encouraging the destruction of human embryos, and possibly human cloning.” If they do back the technique, they’ll guarantee that “science can move forward no matter who wins the 2008 election.”

Let this be a lesson to both the right and the left, said Ross Douthat in his blog at Don’t look at “science that doesn’t dovetail” with your beliefs and “deny the science.” If you don’t like what science says, just wait, and “science can find a way to fix it.”

How about a little credit for President Bush, said Wesley J. Smith, also in National Review Online. If he hadn’t been willing to “absorb the brickbats of the Science Establishment, the Media Elite, and weak-kneed Republican and Democratic politicians alike” by banning federal funding for research using new embryonic stem-cell lines, there wouldn’t have been such an intense push for such a morally acceptable solution.

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