A few weeks ago we all heard the announcement of a major scientific breakthrough that allowed scientists to create the equivalent of human embryonic stem cells (called induced pluripotent stem cells) but without using or destroying embryos. Joseph Bottum wrote about the implications here , and I covered the story for the Weekly Standard .
In the aftermath of this news, we’ve been hearing surprising things from the scientists. They now acknowledge that there really are moral concerns in embryo-destructive research, and that they’ve been concerned about this all along.
So, just after the news broke, Dr. James Thomsonthe scientist who first isolated human embryonic stem cells told the New York Times : “If human embryonic stem cell research does not make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, you have not thought about it enough.”
Now, in another New York Times story , we hear Dr. Shinya Yamanakathe scientist behind the latest breakthroughtell readers what motivated him to discover the new technique:
“When I saw the embryo, I suddenly realized there was such a small difference between it and my daughters,” said Dr. Yamanaka, 45, a father of two and now a professor at the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences at Kyoto University. “I thought, we can’t keep destroying embryos for our research. There must be another way.”
Someone should let the New York Times editorial page editors know. They recently opined :
Any claim that Mr. Bush’s moral stance drove scientists to this discovery must be greeted with particular skepticism. The primary discoverer of the new techniques is a Japanese scientist who was not subject to the president’s restrictions.