Governor Mitt Romney, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, has a piece in today’s NRO promoting “alternatives” to embryonic stem cell research. Skipping over his partisan arguments, here is the crux of his column:
I studied the issue for many months, and entered into conversation with experts from across the nation who were looking for consensus solutions, like Stanford’s Dr. William Hurlbut. In the end, I became persuaded that the stem-cell debate was grounded in a false premise, and that the way through it was around it: by the use of scientific techniques that could produce the equivalent of embryonic stem cells but without cloning, creating, harming, or destroying developing human lives. A number of such techniques have begun to emerge in recent years, and as last week’s exciting scientific publications showed, some of the world’s best stem-cell scientists are hard at work bringing them to fruition. Moreover, two of these techniques, Altered Nuclear Transfer and Direct Reprogramming could produce patient-specific stem-cell lines for the study of diseases.Pluripotency as a gold standard of stem cell research remains to be demonstrated. But Romney is right that whatever one might think of federal funding for ESCR or the ethical propriety of human cloning, there is no reason not to back research into alternatives. After all, it would increase knowledge while avoiding the ethical contention that has marked the ESCR debate.
Our government should encourage and support these scientific developments, rather than undermine the effort to find a solution. Finding cures to diseases using methods that uphold ethical principles and sustain social consensus should be the objective of America’s approach to stem-cell research...Support for ethical biomedical research should be part of our collective identity as a noble society. Instead of turning the quest for cures into a partisan battle, Congress should embrace the exciting emerging lines of research that could meet the goals of all sides in the stem-cell debate.