A report issued by the National Bioethics Advisory Commission calls on Congress to revoke elements of its ban on using federal funds for embryonic research.
In its report, the Commission argues that the possible medical benefits of stem cells, which are found in embryos and early fetuses, outweighs any moral or ethical objections to using them. The Commission argues that federally-funded research should be allowed to study stem cells derived from the abandoned embryos of couples undergoing fertility treatment, provided that the sperm and egg donors have given their permission to use the unused embryos.
Stem cells are tremendously exciting to medical researchers because they are believed to have the ability to grow nearly all types of human tissue, raising hopes that researchers may someday learn how to grow whole new organs and other body parts that were once thought to be irreplaceable. Persons with spinal cord and brain injuries might someday recover from paralysis or impaired brain functioning with the help of stem cells.
Given that scientists are unable to obtain stem cells from an embryo without destroying it, the issue has inflamed pro-life activists.