Arguing About the Use of Stem Cells

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Science  01 Jul 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5731, pp. 51
DOI: 10.1126/science.309.5731.51c

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In his Editorial “Twilight for the Enlightenment?” (8 Apr., p. 165), Donald Kennedy makes an interesting ethical argument in defense of (presumably embryonic) stem cell research. By pointing out that beliefs regarding the beginning of a human life are not universal, the author implies that there is no basis for restricting research in the area. If one were to use this yardstick of universal objection to determine when research becomes unethical, it follows that even the infamous medical experiments of the Nazis might pass muster. Rather than being the exclusive domain of Christian fundamentalists, concern over the ethical implications of embryonic stem cell research is widespread and is an area of academic interest (1). I respectfully submit that the author could more effectively support his position by discussing the point of true contention: when human life begins. Certainly the author would not deny his adversaries the skepticism that he so strongly advocates?


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