In an article fronting today's Washington Post, Rick Weiss gives us a preview of the rhetorical struggle that is sure to be part of this week's House stem cell debate, namely the efforts by research opponents to spin the amniotic stem cell study as a "middle way" compromise solution to overturning Bush's flawed stem cell policy.
Atala and other scientists emphasized that they don't believe the cells will make embryonic stem cells irrelevant. "There's not going to be one shoe that fits all," said Robert Lanza, scientific director at Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Mass. "We're going to have to see which ones are most useful for which clinical conditions."
George Daley, a Harvard stem cell researcher, echoed that sentiment. "They are not a replacement for embryonic stem cells," he said. But in the past, even hints that non-embryonic cells might have medical potential similar to embryonic ones have complicated the political push to expand federal funding for the controversial field. And accordingly, opponents quickly pounced on the new results.
"This is wonderful news," said Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of pro-life activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which opposes research that depends on embryo destruction. "It doesn't require harming anyone or destroying life at any stage."