In a recent editorial, The New York Times laments a “vexing” problem that is slowing embryonic stem cell research: “There are distressingly few women willing to donate their eggs for experiments at the frontiers of this promising science.” Why? Well, here’s The Times’ explanation:

Many were likely deterred by the time, effort and pain required — including daily hormone injections and minor surgery — to retrieve the eggs. And they were almost certainly discouraged by the meager compensation.

Although women can be paid thousands of dollars to donate eggs for fertility treatments, ethical guidelines and some state laws say they cannot be paid much for donating to research. These restrictions are meant to protect the women against exploitation, but they have created a dearth of egg donors for stem cell research.

Apparently, it never occurs to The Times that – all other considerations aside – when a woman donates her eggs to an infertile couple the resulting embryo will have a chance to develop into a new life. When she donates her eggs to stem cell research, the resulting embryo will be killed and so that its stem cells will be harvested. This is, literally, a life and death decision for the young woman who is willing to donate eggs. The winner: life.

The Times then champions efforts to create “cybrid embryos” (animal-human hybrids) – at least until scientists find alternative stem cell sources:

[M]any scientists are hoping that it will be possible, without using eggs at all, to convert human skin cells directly into embryonic stem cells, as has been shown possible in mice. That would be an elegant solution to the vexing egg donor problem.

It would also be an ethical and moral solution.

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog.

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