Center for Ethics and Leadership

Monday, July 28, 2008

Is Human Embryonic Stem-Cell Research Really the Issue?

At the Life, Justice, and Family conference last weekend (see my previous post), discussion naturally turned to to the matter of human embryonic stem-cell research (hESCR). It is certainly an issue, but after a conversation at the conference about the matter of stem-cell research generally, I wonder if attention should be turned to what is already much more heavily underway. I am referring to the genetic and embryonic stem-cell research being done with non-human embryos.

I see three ethical issues: the purpose to which the research is directed, the safety of employees and society generally, and the beneficiaries of successful research. Regarding the first, will we be directing our research to the discovery of genetic manipulations that can cure human disease? Can we be sure that this science will not be used to create horrific diseases designed to be used in biological warfare? Who is monitoring this research? As far as employee safety, how strict are the OSHA regulations? Do they even apply? What if engineered viruses find their way out of the lab and into the world? And who will be able to afford these cures? However much we try, we continually return to the issue of health care allocation in the U.S., costs, and insurance.

Some have argued that if we allow federal funds for hESCR, we then can regulate it. We need not do so. This is for-profit interstate commerce. Congress can regulate it. Perhaps before we allow the great research corporations even to think about using human embryos, we ought to require satisfactory answer to the fundamental ethical questions: what purpose, how safely, and to whose benefit?

A relatively new but good source on the issues is The Center for Public Awareness in Bioethics (http://www.cpab.info/). Check it out.

2 Comments:

  • This is scary!! We need to wake up here and value our safety and our moral issues. We are blinded by what we are told, but most importantly what we are not being told.Help!!!!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At August 5, 2008 10:30 AM  

  • I feel scared also. I hope people in the right authority should think about this clearly. right?

    By Anonymous Jiel, At May 31, 2009 9:50 PM  

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