This should carry more weight than, say, someone like me suggesting it.

The scientist who led the team that cloned Dolly the sheep has urged fellow researchers to forego embryonic stem cell research — which he says is fraught with practical problems — and pursue more promising types of research.

That’s because he believes other research likely will overtake embryonic stem cell research.

Ian Wilmut spoke to a crowd of stem cell researchers Nov. 29 in La Jolla, Calif., telling them that because embryonic stem cells tend to lead to tumors, scientists should spend their time on non-embryonic forms of research, particularly on a new method called direct reprogramming. In direct reprogramming, scientists avoid stem cells altogether and, for instance, reprogram a skin cell directly into a nerve cell. Researchers have had success doing just that with lab mice. It has the support of ethicists who have opposed embryonic research.

"I’m not quite sure why this hasn’t been pursued more actively," said Wilmut, who led the team that cloned Dolly the sheep in the 1990s.

Follow the money, Mr. Wilmut. I have a feeling not even your credentials are enough to get this to happen. But we can keep trying.

The thing is, there is a vastly superior option, with none of the ethical or moral issues.

Wilmut’s speech was reported by the North County Times (Escondido, Calif.), which paraphrased him as saying direct reprogramming would provide the benefits of embryonic stem cell research without the risks. The government, he added, likely won’t spend money on embryonic research if a safer method is available.

If successful, direct reprogramming would turn the political and ethical debate upside down, making moot discussions over which types of stem cells are most promising. Wilmut was speaking in the same state where California voters in 2004 approved a 10-year, $3 billion investment into embryonic stem cell research. No cures have been found.

With embryonic stem cell research, scientists try to take stem cells from embryos and turn them into specific cells for the body. The process is opposed by pro-lifers because it destroys the embryo. In direct programming, scientists — in theory — would take a skin cell and simply reprogram it into, say, a nerve cell, without involving either embryos or stem cells of any kind.

In the results of one mice lab experiment released in 2010, fibroblast cells — found in connective tissue — were reprogrammed into nerve cells.

But again, it’s not about the science. It’s about the money that some companies want from the government. It’s also about the politics of abortion, attempting to soften the issue of killing a child with the thought that the stem cells might help someone. But the reality is, a child is still dying, and the harvested stem cells are full of problems.

And speaking of abortion, there’s a bill going through Congress that would ban abortions for the purpose of sex selection and based on race. But the opposition to this bill by Planned Parenthood, NARAL, the ACLU and others shows that their supposed concern for non-discrimination doesn’t apply to the most vulnerable of us all.

As members of Congress hold a hearing today on legislation that would ban sex-selection abortions and abortions done if the unborn child is of a specific race, leading pro-abortion advocacy groups are strongly opposed to it.

Their opposition could explain why organizations like Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the ACLU almost never speak out against the horrible human rights abuses associated with the one-child policy in China – ranging from sex-selection abortions, to forced abortions, to coercive sterilizations and infanticides.

As members prepare to hear from experts on how the sex-selection abortion culture has made its way from nations like China and India to the United States, according to one study, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, ACLU and a total of 30 pro-abortion groups banded together for a letter opposing the legislation, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act.

Feminists are up in arms about sex-selection abortions. OK, sorry, that was some wishful thinking. They ought to be, but aren’t.

Pro-life blogger Rebecca Taylor has noted that feminist groups frequently remain silent on the issue of sex-selection abortions.

“One may ask where are the feminists in the face of this disastrous practice that marginalizes all women?  Where are the champions of women and their reproductive rights?  They are mostly silent,” she said. “They championed choice and now that choice is being used to kill millions of female fetuses and subjugate women, they have nothing to say lest the sacred abortion cow be slaughtered.”

The principles upon which the Left stands, especially regarding science, ironically, are mostly politically convenient ones that fall away when the politics don’t work for them. Which suggests that they aren’t really principles at all.

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