The Means and the Ends of Embryonic Stem Cell Research
14 May, 2007 12:43 pm
Not quite a month ago, there was a heated discussion on the BlogHer site concerning stem cell research. I read the arguments and counter-arguments with great interest. Not because I thought any of them would change my mind, but because despite their passion, I didn?t expect any of them to change ANYONE?S mind.
When I say ďfactsĒ, Iím not referring to whether or not human embryonic stem cell research is moral and ethical. I discuss what stem cells are, why they are used for research, and why embryonic stem cells are preferable to adult stem cells. In the column, I also quote from the legislation - both the bill that was passed in 2001 and signed into law by President Bush, as well as the bill that was passed in 2005 and vetoed by President Bush.
While I didnít explore this point further in the column, Iíd like to bring it up here: The 2001 criteria pertain to the date/time that cells were derived from the embryos in question, as well as under what circumstances the embryos were created. The 2005 criteria differ only from the 2001 criteria - as far as I can tell - in terms of lifting the restriction on when the cells were derived from the embryos. That is, cells can be used for federally-funded research whether they were derived before the date/time of the 2001 bill, or after.
Interesting differentiation. Why is it acceptable to use federal funding for research only on cells that were derived prior to signing that bill? Because the destruction of those embryos was a fait accompli? If thereís a moral and ethical objection to the destruction of embryos, why approve federal funding for research on any embryonic stem cells, regardless of when they were derived? I expect that it was intended to be a compromise, but to me it looks like inconsistency.
It all boils down to weighing the means - derivation of cells from embryos that will, by consequence, be destroyed - and the ends - research with the goal of gaining the ability to reproduce healthy cells and tissues for use in treating life-threatening diseases. Disagreement is inevitable because personal priorities and beliefs differ greatly. Not everyone will reach the same conclusions, nor should we expect to easily convince those who hold views opposite ours.
Where do your priorities lie in this debate - the means or the ends - and why?
Originally posted on Mothergoosemouse