A way forward on stem cells?

I have often observed that the debates around "harvesting" embryonic stem cells for medical research, like the debates surrounding abortion have often been "adventures in missing the point" as they have neglected to decisively address the most fundamental issue: "is this or is this not a human being?" That makes all the difference in how we should treat the issue, especially if we are among those who believe that human beings are somehow the very image of God.

For this reason I have been deeply discouraged by the vollies of mindless rhetoric being exchanged over these issues since they do not often even approach the level of rational discourse, which our society seems increasingly unwilling or unable to engage in at a popular level. Maybe it was never possible to do such things at a "popular level" in such a large nation anyways (as I recall the Ancient democratic Greeks felt that a democracy by its very nature had to be a small community of only a few thousand citizens so that people were personally connected to one another and could actually debate important matters).

On the stem cell issue, however, it would seem that we may have been (for better or for worse) relieved of the burden of making a decision after all. According to this fascinating article, a new form of NON-embryonic stem cells have been discovered, harvested from amniotic fluid (which is routinely thrown away), that would present an endless and uncontroversial (since they do not destroy human embryos) supply of stem cells that are said to have incredible potential for medical research and treatments.

I only hope that enough people (namely congressmen and researchers) will hear about this apparently revolutionary discovery that could even bring an effective end to the embryonic stem cell debate. The article thinks we may learn a valuable lesson about patience from all this (Bush was right to put a halt to new embryonic research and by doing so, he allowed technology to 'catch up' and make such research obselete just in time for the new Democrat congress to change the law), but I wonder if we have only deferred the inevitable debate to another day.

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