From Yuval Levin (from the Ethics and Public Policy Center) :
This paper, finally published online today (there has been quiet buzz about it for weeks now), is a big deal. It shows that a team at Wake Forest University and Harvard created “pluripotent” stem cells from amniotic fluid collected in routine amniocentesis exams during pregnancy (i.e. collected without doing any harm to mother or child). The cells isolated from this amniotic fluid proved capable of transforming into a wide variety of cell types and showed many of the qualities of embryonic stem cells (though without the tendency of those cells to form tumors). It was just published, and hasn’t been replicated of course, so we should be careful what we make of it, but these early results are extremely encouraging, and are the latest in a string of studies over the past two years showing that cells like the ones derived from embryos could be produced in ways that don’t require the destruction of embryos. Members of the House should certainly think about all these advances as they prepare to vote on a stem cell bill on Thursday. Just as a potential consensus solution to the divisive fight over stem cell presents itself, the Democrats seem intent on forcing the issue back into divisive territory. Studies like this one show that federal funding for embryo-destructive research would not only be unethical, but could well be unnecessary even in the advocates’ own terms.