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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.

 
This, from yesterday's Washington Post:
Researchers reported Thursday that they had cultivated a colony of human embryonic stem cells from an apparently dead embryo, a strategy some have suggested might be less controversial than conventional approaches that require the destruction of living embryos.
Whoa. Is it just me or does this strike you as slightly strange? I'm not sure what part of it is stranger -- growing cells from something that's dead, or the concept of a microscopic clump of cells being dead. How do they know?

Apparently I'm not the only one with that question:
"How do you know when an embryo is dead?" asked Eric M. Meslin, director of the Indiana University Center for Bioethics.
Indeed. And more to the point, if the embryo is dead, will that fact affect the cells grown from it? Looks like the discussion is only just beginning:
But other stem cell scientists and ethicists quickly raised a host of reasons that the advance may have little practical impact on the stormy research field. Among them are concerns that cells from dead embryos may be genetically abnormal, and the lack of a definitive test for proving that an embryo has no lingering potential for life.
What do you think? If you oppose embryonic stem-cell research, would growing the cells from dead embryos make the procedure more acceptable? And if you already support such research, do you think using dead embryos poses an unacceptable risk of abnormalities?

Read the whole article while you ponder those questions.

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