Staff Editorial: `Cell’-ing out

By approving federal funding for stem cell research only on an estimated 60 existing cell lines, President George W. Bush may prevent expeditious research that could lead to a wide variety of medical breakthroughs. Congress should act to undo the restrictions Bush has placed on researchers and correct a decision based upon politics rather than science.

Embryos created for fertility treatments are destroyed according to the wishes of potential parents who no longer want or need them. Scientists want to extract material from these embryos to conduct valuable research that could possibly save millions of lives. Religious groups and conservative ethicists argue that extracting the material – a process that destroys the embryo – is tantamount to ending a human life. But this argument ignores the fact that these embryos will be destroyed regardless of scientists’ interest in them.

Using the inevitable destruction of these embryos to save lives is a positive outcome for all concerned. Congress and the president should focus on saving the lives of people suffering from diseases that could be helped by stem cell research rather than fretting over embryos that will be destroyed with or without the influence of science.

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