Stem Cells & Ethics - Stem Cells Ethical and Policy...

Info icon This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: Stem Cells Ethical and Policy Considerations Sandra Woien PHI 294 – LC: Bioethics Fall 2005 1 Ethical Tensions The debate around the use of embryonic stem cells hinges on two ethical principles: one principle tells us we should alleviate suffering and help people who are suffering, and another principle tells us we should respect human life. 2 Ethical Tensions cont. To tell which principle outweighs the other, we must address two issues: What are the benefits of using embryonic stem cells for research purposes? What is the moral status of embryos, and is it morally permissible to destroy them? 3 Some Potential Benefits: Reduce stroke damage Study genetic diseases Regenerate heart muscle Somatic gene therapy for genetic disorders Generation of replacement tissues and organs for transplants Help with spinal cord injuries Help with bone disease and bone injuries 4 What are the Alternatives? Adult stem cells They have not been shown to be pluripotent only multipotent. They are difficult to isolate and to grow in the laboratory. They, however, avoid issues of immunological incompatibility. Wait until we can discover other types of therapies that may offer hope 5 What is the moral status of an embryo? Some suggestions as to the moral status of an embryo: Person Potential person Subjects of moral respect and of harm The beginning of human life Organic material with the same moral standing as other body parts 6 Moral status cont. Could ideas in developmental biology, as Robert discussed, show that there are relevant points of development that mark changes in an embryo’s moral status? Is there a morally significant dividing line in human development? 7 McGee and Caplan Let us assume that frozen human embryos are persons. This does not entail that the embryo has a right to gestation. The right to life is considered a negative right. Hence, if anything, an embryo has a negative right against unwarranted violence. 8 McGee and Caplan cont. For what reasons might an embryo ethically be destroyed? For the good of the community: as many as 128 million Americans suffer from diseases that might respond to pluripotent stem cell therapies 9 McGee and Caplan cont. What does it mean to destroy an embryo? None of the embryo’s identity is tied up to its memory, personality, habits, choices, etc. The only thing unique about an embryo is its DNA. Hence, the sacrifice of an early embryo, whether it involves a human person or not, is not the same as the sacrifice of an adult because the identity of a 100-cell embryo is contained in its DNA. 10 National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC) The commission takes a moderate position on stem cells. It believes that embryos deserve respect as forms of human life, but have no right to life. Embryos have symbolic status. Under the proper conditions, they have the potential to become persons, and so they are not like other types of human tissue. 11 NBAC Recommendations Federal funding for the use of stem cells should be limited to two sources: cadaveric fetal tissue and embryos remaining after infertility treatments. Also maintains that: Embryos should not be bought or sold Embryos should be voluntarily donated 12 Bush’s Policy On August 9, 2001, President Bush announces his policy on stem cells, which overrides the Clinton Administration’s policy (NBAC). This halted federal spending on research for stem cells on new lines. Federal funds could be used only on existing stem cell lines. 13 Bush’s Policy cont. At the time, approximately 78 stem cells lines were eligible, but out of the 78 lines approximately 22 lines were adequate for distribution to researchers. Prior to Bush’s decision, scientists could only grow stem cells by using mouse feeder cells. Hence, all of the available lines are contaminated with mouse feeder cells. 14 Bush’s Position Bush’s ban reflects the idea that embryos deserve full protection because of their moral status. He assumes they have the same moral status as persons. The NBAC thinks that such a ban conflicts with the ethical goals of medicine that advocate the principle of beneficence. 15 Discussion Questions Will we fall behind the international race to develop stem cell therapies if the current policy is maintained? Does it matter? Would it be morally permissible for people opposed to embryonic stem cell research to later use the therapies developed from this research even if it is done elsewhere? Should we engage in therapeutic cloning? 16 References Brainard, Jeffrey. “Stem-Cell Research Moves Forward.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 1, 2004: A22-A24. Commonwealth of Australia, Department of the Parliamentary Library, Information and Research Services, "Key Ethical Issues in Embryonic Stem Cell Research," Current Issues Brief No. 5 2002-03, 2002, < ; (7 October 2004). McGee, Glenn and Arthur L. Caplan. “The Ethics and Politics of Small Sacrifices in Stem Cell Research. ” In Contemporary Issues in Bioethics, 6th ed., edited by T. Beauchamp and L. Walters. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2003. Maienschein, Jane. “What’s in a Name: Embryos, Clones, and Stem Cells.” American Journal of Bioethics 2, no. 1 (2002): 12-19. National Bioethics Advisory Commission. “Ethical Issues in Human Stem Cell Research.” In Contemporary Issues in Bioethics, 6th ed., edited by T. Beauchamp and L. Walters. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2003. Weiss, Rick. “The Power to Divide.” National Geographic, July 2005: 3-27. 17 ...
View Full Document

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern