The novel business plan of StemLifeLine Inc.--which started promoting its service to fertility patients earlier this year as "insurance for the future"--set off a flash fire of protest from stem cell research opponents and supporters alike.
The outcry from anti-abortion groups wasn't surprising...But some of the most fervent denunciations of StemLifeLine came from vigorous supporters of embryonic stem cell research. Two Stanford University critics aired their complaints in newspaper editorial pages. A prominent Stanford ethicist challenged UC San Francisco scientists who are advisers of the company to sever those ties. These critics accuse StemLifeLine of trying to profit from the promise of stem cell research in the present, even though the work may not yield medical treatments for decades, if ever. "These companies are essentially taking advantage of people's ignorance and fears to make a buck," said David Magnus, director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics.