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Ethical Questions

1. You are the head of a company that does stem cell research. Your company has been receiving public funds to do its work, consisting of using adult stem cells for research in attempts to cure diseases.

Some of the recent work done by your company has received much publicity, providing name recognition for both you and your company. As a result, an offer was given for the company to research using embryonic stem cells rather than adult stem cells. Keeping in mind that the federal government has established that federal funding would be given only to the existing stem cell lines (around 60), you must decide what to do.

Do you give up the work on non-controversial adult stem cells—along with your government funding—in order to explore the possibilities of new findings from the more adaptable embryonic stem cells? Or do you decide to remain working on adult stem cells in an effort to further their use?

2. You are a senator of your state, and you believe in the possible benefits of therapeutic cloning for diseases and spinal defects. However, you represent a state that is very much opposed to such research. You believe this to be primarily due to a lack of knowledge on the topic by many constituents. However, an important bill is coming up for vote. If passed, the bill would outlaw all types of cloning—both reproductive and therapeutic—for the entire country.

How do you vote? What do you tell your constituents? In such a situation, which side wins out—a desire for reelection or this one issue that may alienate your supporters? How might you go about trying to win your constituents over to your side (education on the topic, etc.)?

3) You are a member of a country in the U.N. that has not taken a designated stance on the issue of cloning. In the 2003 vote deciding on whether or not to ban cloning, your country abstained from voting and has made no alliance to vote for either side. It is now 2005, and the issue has come up for vote once again.

Come time to vote, what should be done by your country? Should you vote for the ban if it is a) a total ban on all types of cloning, or b) a ban only on reproductive cloning?

Will you decide to abstain completely from voting, so as to avoid confrontation, keeping in mind that this will allow other countries to decide on a ruling that will affect people in your country as well?