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Jack Sisson's Life Ethics Blog

We must find new ways through many ethical issues, especially regarding bioethics, medical ethics, and criminal justice. Jack Sisson's 'Life Ethics' blog focuses on numerous areas of concern, including the philosophical and ethical dilemmas surrounding stem-cell research, abortion, medical research, and health care.

Mario Cuomo's Op Ed piece in today's New York Times offers some compelling arguments for stem cell research.

No doubt the president's belief that human life begins with fertilization is shared by millions of Americans, including many Christians and evangelists. But it remains a minority view and one that the president applies inconsistently. Although Mr. Bush believes that destroying an embryo is murder, he refuses to demand legislation to stop commercial interests that are busily destroying embryos in order to obtain . If their conduct amounts to murder as the president contends, it is hardly satisfactory for him to say he will do nothing to stop the evil act other than to refuse to pay for it.

Well said, but Cuomo doesn't go quite far enough. Bush's hypocrisy lies not only in his refusal to stop commercial interests that are busily destroying embryos in order to obtain stem cells, but also in his refusal to address the number of frozen embryos lost through the thawing process, as well as the excess embryos created by IVF that are designated for destruction.

Cuomo later says:

The best way to test that proposition would be to employ a panel of respected scientists, humanists and religious leaders to consider testimony from bioscience experts describing when consciousness first appears, when viability outside the womb usually occurs, and how other religions treat the subject. They would then provide their conclusions to lawmakers.

Good idea, but does he have any idea how many different criteria scientists, philosophers and ethicists have already proposed for the definitive moment when human life appears? In the beginning of this blog, we used Hans Martin Sass as an example of a scientific argument for brain life. However, in addition to Sass's thesis, there are numerous other arguments for using brain life as the beginning of human life that range from approximately 20 days to 4 months and more. Even when using only this one criterion for establishing human life, there is little if no consensus.

I do not believe consensus is impossible, or I wouldn't waste my time writing these blog entries. I just don't believe it's imminent.

I agree, however, consensus is highly unlikely. I think that in order to reach a hiatus in the stem cell debate the focus needs to shift from the "origin of life" debate to a search for alternatives i.e. discoveries with teratomas and adult stem cell research. I am not against embryonic stem cell research, but lets face it, we are not going to get any where with this debate. The only way to get what we want is to go around the brick wall.
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