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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.

They're everywhere. The Washington Post, Slate, Chicago Tribune, Parade Magazine, even Doonesbury (July 10th). Stem cells are in the news and it looks like they will continue to be, at least until Congress decides whether or not to loosen the president's restrictions on federally funded stem-cell research.

Now, a new development might prolong that process. Two new promising techniques for collecting stem cells have entered the debate, and advocates for stem-cell research are concerned that these unproven methods might provide enough distraction to defeat Senate passage of the original bill.

According to the Washington Post (see above link), in one method, a single cell is removed from a days-old embryo created for fertility purposes and coaxed to become a self-replicating colony of stem cells, leaving the remainder of the embryo to develop normally. Then there's a different approach , ...altered nuclear transfer, or ANT. It involves the creation of an embryo -- or ...something akin to an embryo -- that lacks a gene necessary for the development of a placenta. Because a placenta is required for an embryo to implant in a woman's womb, the altered embryo would be genetically incapable of becoming a fetus or a baby.

That's all well and good, but every single day that goes by while we argue the pros and cons of this vital research, thousands (millions?) of Americans continue to suffer from debilitating diseases and conditions that could be helped or even cured by stem-cell research. It's unconscionable that some people still place higher priority on a microscopic cluster of undifferentiated cells (those that haven't changed to a particular cell type) over living, breathing human beings. Like one article I read recently points out, the embryos from which stem cells are obtained are smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.

I'm sorry to those of you who consider that microscopic dot a human being, but my sympathies lie with those already suffering with Parkinson's, diabetes, spinal cord injuries, cancer, brain damage, and a host of other painful and/or terminal conditions. Just when did the pro-life movement become the pro-pre-life movement?

Apparently I'm not alone. According to Parade Magazines recent poll (see above link), when asked whether they favor or oppose medical research using embryonic stem cells without any explanatory information, 58% of Americans said they “strongly favor” or “somewhat favor” stem cell research. 29% said they “strongly oppose” or “somewhat oppose” it, and 13% did not express an opinion.

Brain Pills
Roe v. Wade
Stem Cells
Stem Cell Fight!
Bearing Right
Moral Monkey?
Dave's site
Stem Stall
Bush the hypocrite

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