Commentary: Stem cell debate will continue

This editorial appeared in The Tri-City Herald.

While President Obama has lifted the Bush administration's ban on opening new lines to embryonic stem cell research, concerns over this aspect of biotechnology are real.

This is an ethical and moral conflict that will persist, like the debate over abortion, despite rulings by administrations or the federal courts.

Many who favor such research thought Bush was shallow and arbitrary in banning federal dollars for stem cell research except for a few existing lines. But there were and are people who thought Bush got it right and who are upset because the government now is allowing federal dollars to be used on all research on unused and discarded embryos.

President Obama tried to straddle these lines when he said that under his administration science would rule, but that the concerns of those who oppose embryonic stem cell research must be respected and scientists must move cautiously.

The view that embryonic stem cell research is an assault on life in its earliest form is widespread, though not held by a majority of Americans.

That is because fertilized embryos are destroyed when stem cells are extracted from them for research. The embryos come from fertility clinics after they no longer are needed by a patient.

Discussion of stem cells gets right down to the very essence of humanity: When does life begin?

Questions about stem cell research and abortion are very close relatives, the same family of moral concerns.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Tri-City Herald.

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