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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.

Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, says, "The reason we should be opposed is a moral reason. [Embryonic stem cell research] involves, at least for now, the destruction of innocent human life to obtain the cells."

George went on to compare embryonic stem cell research with harvesting organs from mentally retarded infants. Talk about apples and oranges! No one disputes that infants, mentally retarded or not, are human beings. Whether embryos are human beings is being widely debated, however, and linking scientists working with 3-5 days old embryos with baby killers is insulting, not to mention overly dramatic.

"An embryo must be regarded as a human being because the embryo is 'a distinct and complete human organism in its earliest stage of development,' George said." This is the same position taken by the Religious Right, the Pope, and George Bush. A great many people disagree, however, and offer various opinions on exactly when the embryo becomes a human being. Some base it on brain development, others to breath, still others to viability outside the womb, and so on.

The reality is that we're no closer to agreeing on the beginning of human life than we've ever been. For example, I still question why it's more moral to give preference to microscopic clusters of cells over living, breathing, suffering human beings. If anyone has a better reason than the ones I've been given so far, I'd really like to hear it.

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