Carol Platt Liebau: Stem Cell Ethics

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Stem Cell Ethics

In the Washington Post, Professor Robert George and Eric Cohen write about three proposed bioethics laws. One would allow federal funding for embryos left over in fertility clinics. The authors quite rightly point out that there are serious ethical problems with it -- including federal funding for the destruction of embryos, and the fact that even those little embryos aren't really what the scientists are seeking.

But other legislation sounds great -- one to prohibit the morally repugnant practice of fetal farming, the other to fund alternative methods of finding the kind of stem cells that can be obtained from cloning, just absent the embryo destruction.

It's important to have ethicists like Robbie George and Eric Cohen reason through these matters in a public forum like the Post. Otherwise, it's too easy for the claims of "science" and "progress" to supersede moral and ethical issues that are equally important, if not more so. In particular, they offer one warning that's worth remembering:

Over and over again, scientists and ethicists say: Here and no farther. And then they seek to go farther, in the name of "progress."


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