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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.

 
Denver Post, 12/02/2007 -- U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado made news this past week by endorsing Sen. Hillary Clinton for president. She'll be back in the spotlight in coming weeks as she continues her fight for federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research in light of a promising new study that ordinary skin cells can be transformed into embryonic stem cells.

POST: What do you think about last week's developments?

DeGETTE: To take adult stem cells and make them essential to other kinds of cells is a big breakthrough. But I would also sound a cautionary note that this research is really still in its nascent stages, and it is not — certainly at this point — a substitute for other kinds of research, like embryonic stem-cell research.

The religious right and the White House, every time there's some other breakthrough, they want to say that's a substitute for embryonic stem-cell research. In fact, we don't know which of these types of research will end up being the research that will end up curing all these diseases.

What we do know is embryonic stem-cell research is almost 10 years ahead of this new type of discovery, and so there are a lot of advances coming, particularly out of Great Britain and some other countries, on skin regeneration on macular degeneration.

I expect you'll see some big announcement in the next few months about embryonic stem cell research or somatic cell nuclear transfer or some other technique. What this all points out to me is that Congress needs to stop playing God, Congress and the White House need to stop telling researchers what types of cell research they should be doing.

POST: Do you foresee yourself running another embryonic stem-cell bill?

DeGETTE: I certainly do intend to reintroduce the bill, but we may want to look at other ways to move the issue.

We are so close on the research with so many of these diseases. One of my colleagues, Jim Langevin of Rhode Island, he's been in a wheelchair since he had a gun accident. You know they're close to nerve regeneration, they're close with the islet cell regeneration with diabetics. What it's going to take is some serious attention and resources through the NIH to all of this research.

I'm not going to say it's embryonic stem-cell research or it's adult stem-cell research or it's somatic cell nuclear transfer. Everybody was really happy to see that research announced last week, but ... we've got to think really hard about the ethics of what we're doing.

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