Hoping to bypass the ethical objections of Pro-Lifers, a group of scientist tried to do an end around by skipping the needed sperm to create an embryo. Technically speaking we have no recourse in this matter because scientists have stated that a new human life starts at conception; however, in this case, conception technically does not occur because there is no sperm involved and thus as they see it removes ethical concerns. In response to this paper, Ronald Greene, a bio ethicist, states
"People will see that these are activated eggs ... they do not of themselves ever develop into a human being," he said. "This is not anything biologically or morally like a human embryo, and it's a very good way of trying to provide human embryonic stem cells that does not involve the destruction of an embryo."He couldn't be farther from the truth. They do have to destroy a human embryo. Regardless of the means of conception it is no less human than the next person. What will be needed is an update to our definition of conception to include artificial and unethical means.
To answer your question, "what did they do?" I will briefly state they artificially induced oocytes to engage in parthenogenesis or reproduction without a male. Parthenogenesis does not happen in humans but it does happen in many different animal and insect species. Scientists consider the resultant offspring to be unique individuals which genetically speaking is undeniable.
The result of parthenogenesis is a weird sort of sibling. Why? This is because in parthenogenesis the oocyte is tricked into xeroxing its DNA so that it has the prerequisite number of chromosomes and then can be tricked into believing it was fertilized. This sibling then is totally unique despite having an uncanny resemblance to her sister.
The short of it is these scientists have created human embryos via an unnatural means, for humans, in order to kill them in the attempt to harvest embryonic stem cells. As if it were not bad enough they want to kill an innocent person just to play mad scientist they have to go and create a Miss Frankenstein to do it. Unlike math you cannot cancel out a negative with another negative.
I just hope people get on the ball and realize just how horrible this procedure is. Pass this warning along folks because the politicos are going to play this one up as an ethical source of embryonic stem cells.
Link to the actual paper at Cloning and Stem Cells