According to the report "How to Farm Stem Cells Without Losing Your Soul" in the June Issue of Wired, Stanford scientist William Hurlbut has found a way to harvest embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos. Here is an excerpt from the report:
William Hurlbut clicks his laptop, and an x-ray pops up on the projection screen behind him. It's a picture of a tumor in a woman's ovary - a ghostly blob floating near the spine. In the middle are several strange, Chiclet-shaped nodules. "Those white opacities," Hurlbut says, "are actually fully formed teeth."
A few audience members blanch. Though we're in an ordinary conference room in Rome, it feels like church. The seats are filled with some of the Vatican's top thinkers, including a dozen men in clerical dress, a nun in a flowing brown habit, and a Dominican priest whose prayer beads quietly clatter. Hurlbut, a bioethicist from Stanford, has traveled here to tell them about a new way to create human embryonic stem cells.
I'm not sure that
the solution is one that "even the Vatican will love", but at least
this shows there are some scientists out there trying to find an
ethical solution to it all... which seems to me to be a good thing.
It is creepy, indeed. More disturbing to me... and to the credit of the author, the story does point this out... is that it remains problematic due to the fact that many Christians believe that the soul is infused at conception, so when an embryo is altered by extracting a gene and thereby prevented from developing properly, that's equivalent to murder right there (hat tip to BP)...back to square one.
I thought it was encouraging to see someone concerned enough about the ethics to try and come up with a solution, nevertheless.
UPDATE: I am convinced that Dr. Hurlbut's work is morally acceptable and something we need to support. Please read the comments for more details...