Kathryn Lopez

The stem-cell debate can be painful. It deals with life-and-death issues, often involving suffering people desperate for anything that might help; and it tends to be dominated by one-sided, disingenuous propaganda. But the tide may be turning.

For years now, as states and the federal government have considered government funding of stem-cell research, there have been common threads to the debate and coverage. Even when the research under consideration is human cloning -- that is, the creation of embryos that would immediately be destroyed for research purposes -- the word "cloning" would not be used. In New Jersey in 2004, legislation was enacted that banned so-called reproductive human cloning, but allowed "therapeutic cloning." This sort of obfuscation has since become a national trend. Senators, presidential candidates, Sheryl Crow, Michael J. Fox -- so many of the loudest efforts tend to put the power of their celebrity behind embryonic stem-cell research and reproductive cloning. It's a perplexing state of affairs, as study after study demonstrates the successful use of alternatives to embryo destructive research, according to Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of pro-life activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

These misplaced priorities were prevalent recently, as the House took up two bills -- one that would clone, claiming otherwise; and another that would fund the use of frozen embryos from fertility clinics for research. In the days before the House defeated the cloning, Congress and the media were confronted with the looming promise of alternatives. The scientific journal "Nature" released a study describing trial successes, which showed that adult cells could be reprogrammed to function like embryonic stem cells -- a noncontroversial stem-cell research alternative, the kind we could all rally behind.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.